By Rabbi Yitschak Rudomin MA
Director: Jewish Professionals Institute www.jpi.org/
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 718 382 8058
Author: The Second World War and Jewish Education in America www.jpi.org/holocaust/
Part of a series on relationships between parents and children:
In three prior articles (see links below) on MATZAV.com, the new phenomenon of Orthodox adult Jewish children “cutting off” ties with their own parents has presented an opportunity for the wider Jewish public to share their views on this serious subject. Almost 150 readers’ comments have posted online about this subject so far in the three articles to date. Views have ranged from those defending adult children “cutting off” contact with their own parents to those opposed to any such moves by adult children who should know better. The views so far have been evenly expressed from both sides with few people being “neutral” on this hot potato subject.
One thing that emerges from the discussions and the very, very few articles that have been permitted to be published in the world on this subject reveals a clear divide between the world views of young modern adult married children and their parents.
The parents of today’s young married couples were mostly born in the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. They are part of what is known as the “baby boomers” generation meaning they are themselves the children of parents who lived through World War Two (1939-1945) one way or the other.
Thus most of the grandparents of today’s young Frum couples are likely to be either Holocaust survivors or had served in the armed forces of the Allies, such as in the American, Canadian, Russian and other Allied armies. In addition there has been a large number of Israelis and ex-Israelis who went through wars some of whom have moved overseas since 1948 and many of them are parents and grandparents of today’s young couples.
So what we have here on the one side is a generation of parents and grandparents who grew up or were highly influenced by war, even women who lived in the United States during World War Two had relatives and future husbands who were part of the over 500,000 Jews who served in the US armed forces. Likewise with Russian Jews over 500,000 served in the Russian army fighting and eventually defeating the Nazis Y”SH.
On the other side we have young married couples mostly born in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s who have experienced only peace, They were not conscripted into any armies and have absolutely no connection with wars and major conflicts and conflagrations of any kind whatsoever. Children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors have been told virtually nothing by their parents or grandparents who went through the Holocaust and the horrors of “The Final Solution” and its gruesome stories of human suffering in death and labor camps and on battlefronts and much else. And children of Americans who served in the US armed forces or lived in the USA during World War Two have been shielded from the war stories and experiences of their parents and grandparents who either went through or lived in the shadows of real war in Europe and the Pacific.
The younger generations have been raised in peace and quiet with all the luxuries and conveniences and privileges that their parents and certainly their grandparents never ever had. Good educations, the best Yeshivas and Bais Yaakovs, the funnest Jewish Summer vacations, resorts and camps, good food and the best clothing and comfy housing always, nice solid homes with fathers and mothers protecting, raising and caring them all the time and doting over them and wanting only the best for their peace-time children who have become today’s young couples who are supposed to bring only Yiddisha Naches to their self-sacrificing parents.
The younger generation born in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s also came into a world ruled neither by ex-soldiers nor by people who lived through a world war, but they have instead had the benefit of “armies” of therapists of all sorts hovering all around this modern world of ours. In fact many of the younger generation have become therapists and doctors and modern professionals of all kinds themselves.
So what we have here is a generational and cultural divide between an older war-influenced generation and a younger peace-time loving generation.
Right now the younger generation has the edge because it has become “politically incorrect” to show any form of aggression in our genteel societies and modern peace-time cultures. For the younger generation war is something you read about in books and magazines and see in documentaries of past times. The wars in the Middle East seem so distant and disconnected from them. What happened on 9/11 in 2001 has been washed away by so many other “happier” events, so many Simchas B”H to make one forget what is really going on in the world.
Today’s young couples have been influenced by the rise of the age of “feel good” and “be happy” and “loving” psychology and its value system of noting “feelings” and watching out for “abuses” that are NOT physical in nature, something very alien to the older generation. Whereas the older generation raised in the shadows of World War Two heard about, saw, and even experienced a lot more conflict, fighting, shouting and literally battling for life itself that had influenced their now-outmoded patterns of behaviors, speech and actions.
What we have here at this time is an older generation that has a higher threshold for confrontation and human suffering that it sees as a “normal” part of the human condition versus a younger generation that has zero-tolerance for any kind of “conflict” not just of physical abuse of what it labels as “verbal & emotional abuses” as well.
The older generation was used to “taking orders” and accepting toughness of speech and behavior from their own war-survivor parents and have never heard of things like “therapy” and “talking cures”, while the younger generation has no experience with any level of confrontation and heavy-handedness but rather wants to be ONLY loved and coddled and actually takes it’s own “marching orders” from the world of the therapists’ point view and not from their parents usually tougher lives. The younger generation likes to have its egos stroked to tell them how “great” they are basically for going to school and behaving during recess and doing all their homework and other such light and of course “fun” activities.
It is therefore an uneven cultural playing field in favor of the younger couples that has left their parents often-times bewildered and lost as to why they are miscommunicating with their own children of the younger generations. While the couples from the younger generations can call upon their forces of therapists and counselors who tell them that of course they must not accept any “war-like” words or behaviors from the older generation that does even know that they are being tougher because that was how they were raised and the that in any case they gave their all to their children.
It is time to level this uneven playing field through KNOWLEDGE and EDUCATION and make the younger generation know who and what their parents went through that makes them so different to the younger generations. And in turn the older generations of parents must realize that the “old language” they experienced in their own parents’ homes in the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s is now gone and done with forever and they now face a completely different sort of cultural standard that is determined not by the more conservative values of World War Two-world experiences but by very, very modern psychologically motivated university-trained therapists that the younger generation often-times blindly follows who come from a very liberal and completely different “mental and emotional health-conscious” view of the world and how people are expected to fit into their modern world not knowing or not caring about what other older generations went through and experienced that shaped their older world view.
To be continued…