Purim provides an opportunity to analyze parenting from a different perspective. In this instance at least, you have permission to read your children’s mail…!
I know many of you have become worried that your parents have been learning too much about parenting. They’ve been reading weekly letters, perhaps articles and books, and some have even gone to parenting classes. Yikes! Since all you kids have a side of you that wants to make trouble, having parents who know how to keep you in line and even inspire you to behave properly at all times, poses quite a threat to being little Mr. or Miss Troublemaker.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Some of you have nothing to worry about. After all, your parents are moody, inconsistent and never follow through on their threats. All you need to do (and you already do it quite well) is learn to read their moods – know when to make a mess, be annoying or uncooperative and nothing will happen to you. You also know how to keep whining for what you want and know full well they can’t stand up to you for long. If you’re fortunate enough to have parents who set a bad example, like talking in shul, always coming late, not keeping their word or not offering to help people obviously in need – then you’re in great shape! Trouble will be your middle name, without even trying! I don’t need to give you any advice.
I’m speaking instead, to those of you who for the most part have fair and consistent expectations placed on you, reliable follow up and a nice relationship with your parents. How are you kids going to be able to make TROUBLE like your lucky friends??
Let’s say you want to annoy your little sister by hiding her favorite doll or your older sister by listening in on her conversations. Your parents will get involved right away, stay calm, listen to all sides, empathize with everyone’s feelings and then give you, in a fair and reasonable manner, what you got coming for such inappropriate behavior. Annoying sisters just lost most of its attraction. Let’s say you just don’t want to stop playing when your mother calls you for supper, so you ignore her. I’ll bet you think you can sneak inside in a little while and she just won’t notice, or she’ll throw her hands up and do nothing about it. Guess what – your Mom is probably going to let you know she’s aware of what you did and she’ll remember tomorrow to not let you go outside before supper. Sorry. Perhaps you were fooling around and accidentally knocked over an expensive lamp. No way you’re going to admit it. You make up some story about what happened. You know you don’t stand a chance when you see your mother is more upset about your not telling the truth than she is about her favorite lamp.
I’m afraid I have to admit I have no advice for you guys with those effective parents. You’ll never make it to the Troublemakers Hall of Fame. You’ll never even get close. So kids, my message to you is enjoy being your parents’ children – because as time goes on they’ll only improve their attitude even more and master additional techniques in how to raise you properly. And watch out – before you know it– you’ll be an Aba or Ima yourself, IY’H. And with such good role models you’ll probably do a great job yourself!
Purim Sameach – enjoy your wonderful parents!!
Rabbi Kalman Baumann