The Cultural Imbalances Between Parents and Children “Cutting Off” Parents

54

By Rabbi Yitschak Rudomin MA

Director: Jewish Professionals Institute www.jpi.org/
Email: rudomin@jpi.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…

In this series:
1) Modern Shalom Bayis Crises for Parents and Married Children http://matzav.com/modern-shalom-bayis-crises-for-parents-and-married-children/
2) Torah Origins of Honoring Parents to Establish Shalom Bayis http://matzav.com/torah-origins-of-honoring-parents-to-establish-shalom-bayis/
3) “Cutting Off Parents” is Contrary to Honoring Parents for Shalom Bayis http://matzav.com/cutting-off-parents-is-contrary-to-honoring-parents-for-shalom-bayis/

 

{Matzav.com}

54 COMMENTS

  1. A natural and sincere love for ones parents should transcend all cultural
    divides. However parents also have an obligation not to be unreasonable
    and demanding of their children

  2. so the commenters have been pretty even? You have been taking a beating Mr. R., the comments are basically all destroying you and your silly stance. Btw, did you talk to a rov about writing this article to see where daas torah stands on this issue before you cowboyd and hacked your way into an issue that you are clueless about?

    • About which part am I clueless? Personal attacks is not an “argument” feel free to write your own version about this growing problem. I am more than happy to have been a catalyst for this public discussion. Which Daas Torah supports cutting parents off by grown children?

      • all of them

        its not black and white and based on the circumstances they will all support distancing from ones parents. The amount of distance would depend on the amount of damage that these parents can potentially cause.

        I am surprised that Matzav allows these (non professional) opinion pieces. Without trying to be rude, you seem like a victim that is venting and not someone who is just a writer or teacher offering a random opinion.

        How about being a bit more transparent so that most here who are a bit baffled by you and your opinion piece can better understand where you are coming from so that this can be viewed in a more rationale perspective? Right now this is just an odd rant that won’t stop.

        • All my children are married. They are all in touch with me and/or my wife.

          I was very troubled by an opinion piece in a major Jewish magazine a few weeks ago that advocated adult kids cutting off their parents.

          I have deliberately written my articles in a controversial “devil’s advocate” way to stir more open debate that the original magazine shut out but that MATZAV.com has been willing to open up in this type of forum.

          • You keep referring to this article in another publication but you have yet to say who wrote the article and where it was published. Its hard to get what was so troubling without context.

  3. Why is this fellow’s writings still being posted? If this was such a hot topic you would think most of us would know at least one family in such a “matzav”. I do not know of such a family. So writing on a subject which may be true but in the high minority when there is truly much more higher priority subjects in strange.

    Plus he is making things up. When was this written? Thirty years ago which he made some minor edits? He writes “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.” What?? He is also put children born in the 40’s and 70’s in one category?? He writes “The parents of today’s young married couples were mostly born in the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. ”

    His thought process is all over the place and is certainly NOT Daas Torah.

  4. Factual errors combined with assumptions that are extraordinarily biased and far from the mainstream lead to conclusions that are wildly off base.
    As much as I appreciate Matzav’s disseminating news and opinions from differing viewpoints, allowing someone who’s loudly opinionated but unsupported by any rov or mental health professional to spout forth in such a potentially damaging way is irresponsible.

    I am very deliberately being as “pareve” as possible with my condemnation of these articles because the author has the title of Rabbi and also because of the proximity of the Yomim Nora’im, but for anyone who unfortunately has the type of family conflict he describes, taking him seriously has the potential of causing real harm.

  5. I’d like to share some observations that I have noticed over the years when seeing different kinds of relationships between parents and adult children. When comparing my and my siblings relationship with our parents to the relationship that some of my sisters and brothers-in-law had with their parents (all of the Holocaust survivor generation) and then comparing again the different kinds of relationships that my different in-law children have with their parents, (of the baby boom generation), I have seen a very clear divide, regardless of the generation. Parents who view themselves as a source of strength FOR their children, providing love, emotional and spiritual support. At times lovingly providing material support WITHIN their means with an ayin tova, generally have children whose greatest pleasure is to do whatever they can for their parents. This love did not need to be expressed in the overtly gushy manner that love is sometimes expressed today. My parents were products of their generation. They were strict. They never once said the words ‘I love you’. But we knew very, very clearly that they were always there for us, and whatever they did was for our benefit, even when we didn’t like it. We, (all of my siblings) would do anything for them. I see this too with the children of those of my machotonim who have this kind of relationship with their children and in-law children.
    On the other hand, I’ve witnessed a different kind of parenting paradigm, when parents view their offspring as possessions, with constant demands, and expectations, and sharp criticism when they fall short of their requirements. In those cases, at best there is a dutiful, resentful fulfilling of the mitzvah, and at worst, when this becomes tinted with personality disorders as well, a total cut off, fully sanctioned, even encouraged by Rabbanim. Again this holds true across both generations.
    Deracheha darchei noam. The mitzvoth are not meant to be used as a stick to force others, even our offspring, to do what is painful and possibly harmful to themselves. If a parent has to resort to that, they would do well to examine if they have fulfilled their role as parent. They need to act as the adult in the room.
    Are there times when a therapist will turn a child against a parent? Yes, undoubtedly, but from my limited observations, it is usually much simpler than that. Often it is the parents who are not acting with adult sechel and reaping what they have sowed.
    With best wishes for a year of peace for all, Veheishiv lev avoth al bonim velev bonim al avosom.

  6. Dear Rabbi Rudomin,

    It seems to me that you honestly don’t believe that words alone can be painful and damaging enough to warrant filial separation from parents, based on your explicit exclusion of physically abusive parents from those who you feel are being wronged by their children’s separation. There is a short poem that most of us learned as children to that effect: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”. If only that were true. Facebook bullying is a nationwide problem, with kids sometimes ending their own lives to escape torment. Verbal abuse is very real and very painful, whether it’s parental, from a classmate or anyone else.

    What level of insult or hurtful comment rises to the level of abuse? Obviously there’s no clear demarcating black-and-white line, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. If someone chooses a career in politics (or as an editorialist on a controversial topic) they’ll need to grow a thick hide, but that’s their choice. A child doesn’t have that choice and painful words cause hurt and in some cases real and permanent damage, including a lifetime of insecurity, anxiety and self-loathing.

    Here are two final questions which I’d appreciate frank yes/no answer to:
    1) Do you believe there is such a thing as verbal abuse?
    2) Do you believe verbal abuse can cause real damage?

    Yours truly,
    A Parent

    • Thank you for a thoughtful response.

      The answer to both your last questions is yes of course. Verbal abuse is real, just look how much of it I get from some people who refuse to give rational responses.

      What I am saying in this essay is that for older generations nobody cared about verbal abuse and it did not even have a name for them. But for the younger generation it is more real and defined and it has its own name.

  7. I would strongly advise the editorial staff at matzav to cease publishing such offensive drivel. Children who have been verbally abused by parents suffering from mental illness are not simply the victims of cultural divide. Once again the author of this article has proven he has no personal experience with this issue and no expertise on it. Frankly, for those who have personal experience with this issue, the article is outright insulting.

      • Real life examples, fair enough. How about being raised by a parent with a severe anxiety disorder that has never properly been treated. This isn’t simply a generational divide, it’s a mental health issue. If previous generations did not have these terms defined, we now do and need not be subject to them.

          • You just can not write such things to people who you do not even know. Do you know the pain that you can cause him by saying that he dumped his parents in the garbage. Maybe he just can’t cope with being around a parent who is irrational? Maybe it frightens him? Maybe he has emotionally scarring from his youth which had a profound effect on him and he is working through personal issues? Maybe he would like to have more contact but is not emotionally able to do so. Maybe he spoke with a Daas Torah? How can you be so sure that he is in the wrong?

          • “Fine, have your way. Feel better now that you have dumped your parents in the garbage can?”
            That is truly one of the cruelest responses I’ve ever seen. It’s also a graceless concession to someone who’s exposed a painful personal situation in a futile effort to show Rabbi Rudomin that he personally has experienced what he’s described.
            Comments like that one deserve nothing but revulsion.

          • Not sure what you are “revulsed” by? Let’s frame it differently, if your parents were diagnosed with a serious illness such as cancer would you cut them off or would you try to show your love by doing everything to help them?

          • Your flip, snide comment equating a difficult and painful decision undertaken after years of hurt to “Throwing your parents in the garbage can” is sickening and disgusting. I don’t expect to convince you since refuse to believe anyone, including those who have actually have gone through it, but this is just for other readers. Your childish preface “Fine, have your way. Feel better now” says a lot about you.

            Since you like allegories so much, here’s a more fitting one: If a family member, let’s say a parent, contracts a deadly contagious disease and must be isolated to prevent him or her from infecting others, would you then say to the family members “Feel better now that you have dumped your parents in the garbage can?” That is exactly what you’ve just done.

          • Sorry to hear you are so allergic to parents.

            We are going around in circles now. I see that I will not convince you since you are determined to shut down a serious Mitzva straight from the Torah.

            Have a good Shabbos.

          • “Sorry to hear you are so allergic to parents.”
            Sorry to see that you’re a filthy liar who stoops to false personal insults (in addition to the other faults you’ve revealed here). Is that your standard response when you lose an argument? How dare you?

            “I see that I will not convince you since you are determined to shut down a serious Mitzva straight from the Torah.”
            Yet another lie. Great way to get ready for Rosh HaShona.

          • Anonymous I have no clue who you are yet you call me a “filthy liar” while I do not ever stoop that low. You have your views that you are entitled to but you do not have the right to curse me out.

            I hear you whereas you just want to keep on fighting, so enjoy hitting your head against a brick wall.

            I am trying to be nice to you. Just want to wish you a Good Shabbos as I am ready to move on to another topic yet somewhat related.

            Be well and cool it, this is not real life just an online chat.

          • There you have it, folks. A nice, orderly procession going from:
            1) the crackpot idea that verbally abusive parents either don’t exist or don’t cause any harm
            2) cruelly and dismissively mocking someone who has personally experienced it – “Fine, have your way. Feel better now that you have dumped your parents in the garbage can?”
            3) denying the cruel mockery – “Not sure what you are “revulsed” by?”
            4) making disgusting false accusations against someone who pointed out exactly what was cruel about the remark – “Sorry to hear you are so allergic to parents. I see that I will not convince you since you are determined to shut down a serious Mitzva straight from the Torah.”
            5) falsely claiming he was “cursed out”, ludicrously claiming he’s “trying to be nice” (is appending “Good Shabbos” to a filthy lie being nice? How about “When will you stop beating your wife and kids? Good Shabbos”.) and that those who disagree with him “just want to keep on fighting”.

    • The problem here is very common. Many well meaning people, who have no experience in this area, say things which under normal conditions would make a lot of sense. Unfortunately, without extensive experience, either professional or personal, these comments can cause a lot of hurt and damage. Even if you were to give one or two real case examples, it would not come close to begin to educate as to the reality of abuse and the damage which it causes. As you can see from the myriads of responses which were very pained and offended by this article, many people understand and share your feeling of insult, even if it was unintended.

        • When you put quotation marks around the words emotional abuse you are essentially saying that it does not exist. People who have suffered this type of abuse often find it hard to defend themselves, precisely because they are told that what they are feeling is not real. Your article had the potential to create חיזוק for the mitzvoh of Kibus Av V”Em but the fact that it does not recognize that at lease some of the cases are legitimate and that some of the children are acting according to daas torah causes people “hurt and damage”.

        • I implore you to speak with someone experienced in this area. See if they tell you that it is easy to cut off a parent. Usually, it will take some one who has been abused a tremendous effort to built up the confidence to defend themselves. Abuse parents usually create an aura of greatness about them and make the victim feel as if they can not survive without the abuser. In most cases which I have dealt with, most victim have difficulty even recognizing that the were abused.

          There may exist a problem of people who are looking for an excuse to cut parents off, I haven’t seen it, but that does not mean that i does not exist. BUT for the many of people who went through real abuse, as you can see from the responses which you received, it is not the least bit easy. Again, until you speak with someone who has real experience in this area, who can begin to guide you in the inner workings of abuse, you will have no idea how damaging your comments can be.

          • Okay, good idea, but how about READING what I have written and responding to those points instead of yelling at me as if I was the “village fool”?

            One thing I do see in these discussions is that THE ARMY OF PSYCHOTHERAPISTS has come out in full force to defend themselves and NOT letting anyone else get a word in edgewise.

            But what else can we expect in these times of tyrannical POLITICALLY CORRECT days ruled by spouters of psycho-babble?

            Take it easy buddy, there are more ways than one to skin a cat!

  8. Would you agree that Parents that fight harshly with each other in front of their children, WILL HAVE A NEGATIVE EFFECT ON THEM FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES?! There are certain cases, mine being one of them, where separating a distance from them (I live in a different State) is the recommended eitza? We communicate by phone. My children talk to them all the time. We don’t travel to visit them but they are always welcome to come to us, and they do, for Yomim Tovim. When they are in our house, they tend to behave much better and really limit the arguing. We are open and Frank with them. They DO realize that THEY have a Shalom Bayis problem, which is not going to go away after all these years and even they realize that it’s not good for the ainiklach to be exposed to it. They should live and be well till 140. Some of my other siblings have cut off completely from them, and it’s very painful for me to see, but NO ONE can judge yenims pain and hurt! They are very real. I followed Daas Torah and I am besimcha and have no guilt B”H.

    • If you know anything about couple’s therapy you would know that sometimes couples are connected with each other through their arguing together. Chavrusas fight with each other all the time and that just makes them better friends.

      It sounds like you have NOT cut off with your parents, Yasher Koach to you for finding an Eitzah that works for you.

  9. R. Rudomin,

    It has been asked if you run articles like these and your ideas by daas torah before you publish them. Though you may not see it since your children are all in contact with you but many here have strong feelings and opinions on this matter while you are either doing this as your sport or you have a much deeper motive that you are not divulging. Either way, I think that it would be a good idea to run this by daas torah if there is to be another one of these features.

    And I am not exactly sure if you are anti daas torah and therefore are a bit upset about daas torah possibly recommending that children keep a safe distance from their unhealthy parents to which you disagree with, or you just believe that your writings in regards to sensitive issues that cause extensive pain to many people who you do not know or even care about, is ok. Perhaps you are an ordained rabbi and believe that you yourself are daas torah and therefore do not need to seek advice from your equals?

    Don’t know. Please share.

    • You are going too deep. Can you specifically name at least ten genuine recognized Gedolim who represent giving TRUE Daas Torah who are willing to openly and publicly say they support married kids cutting off with their parents?

      In addition if MATZAV.com feels my articles are too extreme and offensive I have no problem with them taking down what I wrote so far. Thanks.

      • can you name 10 who would openly and publicly say that they do not support married children distancing themselves from their parents under any circumstances?

        Of course you can’t. That’s the point. If you know anything about how the process of dealing with Daas Torah works, you would not be asking such questions.

        It looks like you are trying to push an agenda without playing by the same rules that you are questioning.

        • Kibbud Av Va’Em is “my” agenda? I am not the one promoting any changes. All I am saying is to keep and practice Kibbud Av Va’Em the way it has been done since HKB”H gave us the Aseres Hadibros over 3,300 years ago and as it is spelled out in the Torah and Shulchan Oruch.

          It is for those moderns who want to give us a “new” Torah based on therapists to prove that Daas Torah is on their side because they are the ones proposing and pomoting change, and not me.

          Thanks for listening.

    • Not that much of a debate. It was more like a sadly played out intervention for you but I am not sure that you picked up on that.

      You are obviously struggling and lacking the strength and character to see things in different colors. Free yourself from this misery and self pity and live life again! It’s never too late to learn how to live a healthy life and to have one of those (yikes) professionals help you see that its not all about you.

      Respect your own strengths and believe that you can beat this with courage, prayer, teshuvah and professional care. You can be happy again! Believe it! Be Free again Rabbi Rudomin there is a wonderful world out there waiting for you. Pride is a terrible thing to carry into the next world.

      Good Luck and Kol Tuv!

  10. I get the impression that the author is justifying his own problems. Until he breaks free from his denial, he won’t listen to anyone else.

    • Supporting Kibbud Av Ve’Em to the hilt is now a “problem”? Just goes to show what a topsy-turvy world — Oilam Hafuch — we now live in. How about you read the actual article/s I wrote and respond to the subject matter? instead of joining the politically correct lynch-mob that can only hear it’s own anti-parents mantra and nothing else.

      Shabbat Shalom and Shalom Al Yisrael!!

    • Without reading his mind we can’t know what his motivation(s) is/are, but if c”v anyone in such a terrible family situation takes his off-the-wall ideas seriously they can experience real catastrophic damage. Unlike arguing with a flat-earther, which is just a waste of time because their beliefs are harmless, arguing with an anti-vaxxer is often necessary, lest somebody accept their dangerous advice and cause harm to their child.

      Fortunately, the more Rudomin talks and argues, the more you can see what lunacy he’s espousing and how unhinged his philosophy is. He will never give in; he initially asked for the name of a single rov who believes that verbal abuse can be bad enough that it warrants cutting off communication, but now that he’s been give several he’s upped the demand to ten rabbonim. To paraphrase something I heard elsewhere, the great thing about free speech is that it allows you to easily see who the lunatics are.

      If he would like to argue that the moon is made of green cheese I (and IMO, most of us) won’t waste our time refuting him, but if he wants to keep pushing this twisted agenda it would be irresponsible not to continue exposing his damaging and unhealthy ideas for the schlock that they are.

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