Sunday, March 08, 2009

The Price of Dogmatic and Intolerant Parenting

One of the most poignant responses to the post by Yossi Ginzberg was from a woman who is a living example of a malaise in the Torah world. (I hate that word malaise – but unfortunately it’s appropriate). Not because her experiences or her husband’s are the norm. They are probably not. But neither are they indicative of a particularly dysfunctional family either.

There are parents that seem to have an almost inbred intolerance to even slight variation from the strict dogma they have learned from the bad Chinuch they have themselves received. They seem to be encouraged to be even more rigid in those views than were those responsible for inculcating these values in them.

They are far less tolerant of even the slightest variance in the values they teach their children. They seem to have a fire and brimstone parenting approach when it comes to matters of Hashkafa. I believe the writer and her husband’s experiences are far more common than people believe. The results of this kind of hard core parenting can derail one’s Judaism.

Although there is a certain amount of dysfunction in the Torah world in some families that is responsible for many of those raised in it for rejecting of Judaism - I don’t think it is arguable that dysfunction is the sole source of this problem. Nor should we ignore questions of faith and doubt that one may the have by encountering information that seems to contradict the religious dogma they were taught. Both dysfunction and serious questions of faith are major contributors to those leaving it.

But one cannot ignore what this writer has written from the depths of her heart. She demonstrates that when the good intentions are combined with bad parenting - which is the result of their own learned intolerance – it can lead a child astray. This is an intolerance that has been taught by many Yeshiva Rebbeim. Thankfully, not all Rabbinic figures have been so indoctrinated. They either resisted it, or had better, more tolerant, less fire and brimstone Chinuch. Thank God for the understanding Rabbis and Rebbitzins who helped this couple through their struggles. What follows is her comment in its entirety.

It's about time someone wrote this.

My husband is the kindest person I know. He has a great personality, is smart, has wonderful morals, and is a terrific father. I could never have asked for a better spouse. Both he and I still struggle with our religious obligations due to years of horrific influence of parents that were just as you described in your article.

They constantly used the word of G-d to "teach" us the ways of the Torah, when in reality all they succeeding in doing make Judaism look so unappealing that we eventually went off the derech for a couple of years. Only with the help of kind Rabbi's and Rebbetzin's in Israel were we able to find the beauty in a Torah way of life. His father would be so careful never to miss minyan but treats his family like their worthless. He had figuratively shoved Torah down his son's throat.

My parents would oversee that I was davening "the right way" and here and there would stomp up and down on my non-jewish music in front of me and my sibling yelling, "Pritzus, Pristzus, Pritzus!"

This is just two sentences of the horrifying religious upbringing that we sadly experienced. When we both went to Israel, our Rabbi's were amazed that we even wanted to be religious at all. His siblings and in laws constantly judge us that we are not "frum" enough.Some of the things that these people so are disgusting, whether it is in their personal or professional lives. These are the people judge us that my husband doesn't go to minyan and he doesn't wear a black hat?It doesn't make sense to me.

It's one thing to have troubles with religious observance, it's another thing entirely to make excuses to do illegal things "based" on halachic loopholes.(like to be fully supported, have an incredibly furnished apartment, wear diamonds and Shevy wigs, and then go about crying poor to collect Wic checks and food stamps.).

We want our children to grow up with a love for Torah and G-d, but where is the beauty of Judaism? It has been all but stomped out of the Jewish community by the molesters, thieves, abusers, and scammers that dare call themselves yidden. In today's community, where is the attractive draw to yiddishkeit?

Thank you for your informative post. I hope your article is a huge wake up call, and brings some change.It is people like you that make us dare hope that real Judaism isn't as corrupted or lost as we thought.