Ponevez rosh yeshiva Rav Gershon Edelstein was recorded answering questions about how to deal with “off the derech” children.
“I’m strolling on Shabbos night with my son; it gives him a very good feeling. In the middle of the stroll, I see he takes out a cigarette to smoke,” a questioner asked. “Can I ignore it, because he won’t listen to rebuke? Or am I obligated to protest to the chillul Shabbos?”
“No, no, you can’t protest,” Rav Gershon replied.
The sefer Ma’aseh Ish about the Chazon Ish (vol. 1 page 72) relates that a son who had left the derech once asked his father to buy him a car. When the father agreed on condition that he promise not to use it on Shabbos, the son refused to make the commitment. The Chazon Ish heard of the matter and advised the father to give him the car with no preconditions, for in this way his influence over him would increase.
Asked by educators what was best to emphasize at the thirteenth meeting of the annual Chinuch Conference, Rav Gershon said: “Tell the mechanchim to strengthen the talmidim in the severe prohibition of lashon hora and the obligation to fulfill kibud av vo’eim and bein odam lechaveiro, and that they should not be angry at each other.”
Regarding oral tests, which might encourage good learners but discourage the less talented, he said: “One should make a very easy test. The purpose of tests is to encourage talmidim.”
In regard to whether anything justifies publicly humiliating a talmid, he said: “It’s forbidden.”
As to whether to invest in a talmid who’s beginning to deteriorate at the expense of other talmidim, he answered:
“Why should others suffer? One can do both.”
He also discouraged sending an average bochur to a high-grade yeshiva, saying, “He’ll suffer because of that.”
Rav Elazar Menachem Man Shach used to tell parents, “In our generation, parents have only one function: to shower their child with love… The house must radiate warmth, for if not, he is likely to search it elsewhere” (Lulei Sorascha, page 65).