On Sunday evening, April 18, Coach Menachem offered the 50th shiur with Rabbi Daniel Kalish, Menahel of the Mesivta of Waterbury, on proper chinuch for our children.
Rabbi Kalish began by commenting on how, when we were going through the pandemic, Coach Menachem organized this shiur and it exploded into hundreds of people learning about matters of yir’as Shamayim. “When we go through challenges, we don’t just survive, we thrive,” he stated. He shared that when we speak about chinuch, our children should be there, because there are no tricks with chinuch. He pointed out that his students were watching the shiur. “If it’s ideas and values, then people with whom we are zocheh to learn and grow should be there.”
He taught that when a person is in a state of bad midos, he cannot access his wisdom. We have to bring ourselves back to acting with good midos in order to attain wisdom and to act properly. For example, if a person is angry, he loses his wisdom. “Bad midos makes our wisdom inaccessible. When a person has good midos, he can access his wisdom.”
Rabbi Kalish shared that parents are gifted with a clear understanding of how to raise their children. “Nobody has ideas for your children like you do.” Each parent has a unique style. There is not one way in chinuch. When a parent names a child, this creates the personality of the child. A parent receives ruach ha’kodesh. The main ingredient is good midos. The Gemara teaches that if you have something in yourself that is unresolved, you will see bad in others. This simple rule is labeled projection. “We have answers. Let us work on good midos. Work on seeing others with a good eye. Work on having patience.” He emphasized, “We have to accept ourselves.”
The number one thing a father and husband can do is accept himself. If he can do this, he will be kind and positive to his children and spouse. In a place of self-acceptance, we are calmer and we will have more wisdom for chinuch.
The interactive shiur included live questions and questions that were sent in. A parent asked about a child who is just not into learning. Rabbi Kalish advised that it is important to know the real story. Do not go for the superficial narratives. We have to take time and have conversations. There is no simple answer. “Let us learn the real journey of our child.” He added, “When we are more attuned to the real story, we can be part of the solution.” Does your child need more confidence? Does he need skills to feel confident? He taught that often we are focused on the wrong place.
A parent asked what to do since he does not want to send his child to a yeshivah for students who are struggling. Rabbi Kalish responded that the y’sod of chinuch is to know your child. The goal has to be to find what this child needs. Every person is different. We need to do what the child needs.
Another parent asked what if a 17-year-old is always angry and will not talk with his parents? Rabbi Kalish said we need to validate and to try to understand his feelings. “When kids can articulate, they tell us amazing things.” He shared that today in our generation, youngsters are more open with their rebbeim and their parents than in previous generations. “Try to listen. See if you can locate the n’kudah. The goal is to understand. We don’t have to have answers.”
He shared how when Moshe Rabbeinu was able to empathize, then B’nei Yisrael were able to cry out to Hashem. When Rabbi Kalish began in chinuch, he thought his job was to cheer up a bachur who was sad. Twenty years later, he learned that it’s more important to empathize and understand and to let children express their feelings. “If a child is upset, let him express it.” He noted that we are living in a special time when people are craving connection. “We have the possibility for honest, engaging conversations with our children. Our ikar work is our children.”
Rabbi Kalish acknowledged that being a parent is real avodah. “Our greatness comes from our adjusting to our children. We need patience. It is tremendous work and it will help us grow the most. ”If a child is struggling, it doesn’t mean you are not a good parent. It just means that a child is struggling.”
Another question came about a girl not dressing in a tz’nius way in the house. Rabbi Kalish responded that people who are respected cover up. You need to really work on showing her respect, meaning find her “maalos” (best features) and celebrate them.