Why Your Son Doesn’t Talk to You
A couple approached me to speak about their 14 year old son.
“I try so hard but my son just won’t talk to me,” the father said. “It’s not like he sits there talking with my wife all day but to me, he is a total zombie. I even offered to take him to a basketball game with his favorite team, best seats in the house. The entire time he just sat texting on his phone. Not a word between us except when he wanted to get a Coke. I can’t understand it.”
I told this father that I don’t mean to be hurtful or blaming but I just have one question: “All these years when you would drive your son to soccer or baseball, when he would ask you to play with him or read a book, even while you were out catching a bite together, were you checking your phone? If that’s the behavior he saw, he is simply doing what you did with him. He thinks it’s perfectly normal.”
The parents looked at each other and from their faces I saw that there was nothing left to say. Regret is a most painful emotion for us to carry.
And how are these sons and daughters going to relate to their own children and spouses? What does the future hold for families down the road?
Most people have become attached to their phones. I know men and women who sleep with their phones on all night, at their bedsides. Teens do the same. We go out to eat and believe we are spending quality time but our phones are on the table. We cannot miss a ping.
Family life requires focus. We need to hear, to see and to listen. Children need to feel cherished. Spouses need to feel as if they are not invisible. After a while, we stop believing that we are relevant. If you cannot seem to look at me while I am speaking what does that tell me about my words? Do I even matter to you?
Parents have also been made to feel as if they don’t count in their children’s lives. Perhaps this has always been a parenting issue but it is now way too easy to disconnect from the ones who wish to love us and to feel love most.
A mother told me that she traveled with her daughter to check out colleges for next year. After the long visit they got into the car for the 3-hour drive home. She was looking forward to sharing thoughts with her daughter, exchanging conversation and laughter. As they put on their seatbelts, her daughter placed her headphones over her ears, making it very clear that she was not interested in talking. Her mother felt terribly hurt but didn’t want to have the trip end on a sour note.
We use our phones and laptops as an escape. We are here but not present, and delude ourselves in thinking that we are together.
Bored with Being
How often do we find it difficult to be engaged with one activity at a time? What about our children? Homework, supper time, lounging with friends is constantly disrupted with checking out Instagram, Facebook and texting. We quickly get bored no matter what we are doing if we don’t have our phones to distract us.
One young mom confided to me that she finds being a mother boring. Meal time with her kids is just the dullest time of all. “Would it be so bad if I would sit at the table and play candy crush on my phone?”
Imagine how these children are growing up. Their mother finds a game more stimulating than real life give-and-take with her children. What about seeing the joy in a child’s eyes when we read a book, the giggles we share, the bright hopes and dreams that they dare voice to us when we least expect it? We miss opportunities for hugs and kisses because we cannot seem to shake this feeling of being stuck and want to check our phones instead.
Wedge that Divides Us
Deteriorating family life is the price we are paying for the new digital world we live in. Our children squeal as they run in the grass while we are checking our phones and only look up between texts. They call out to us to watch them but know that in a minute we will be looking down again. Husbands and wives crave a kind word, a warm smile, a gesture that shows that we care. Yes, we nod, we are listening but each of us knows the truth. As soon as we can, we turn back to our devices. There is this wedge that divides us, that doesn’t allow us to give all that we have to give. Relationships suffer; we feel lonely and some may look elsewhere for love.
You can make a decision right now to better your relationships and reconnect with your loved ones. Keep your phone off at mealtimes. Engage your sons and daughters. Look into your spouse’s eyes while speaking. Talk to your families while driving in the car. Create sacred time where it is only you and those around you. You will discover the beauty of family. You will teach your children that love means being present with both body and soul. You will nurture a listening heart that will touch generations to come.
Blessed Or Blasted- Musings Of A Groom
Rivki D. Rosenwald Esq., CLC, SDS
"He's got a big heart but a bigger mouth!"
"He did really well at test 'taking', the teachers weren't happy about it but the kids were, he shared them with all his friends!"
Sometimes at an aufruf we hear the strangest things about a guy. Some of it is just light humor or reminiscing. Some, really hits hard. One father of the bride said at an Aufruf that I attended -"My wife usually hates to miss any event, but I'm glad she's home with my daughter this week, and not here at this Aufruf. If she heard how they are tearing apart this guy she'd probably call off the wedding!" But how'd this tradition start, and is it a good idea?
In the time of the temple there was a special entrance made for grooms. This way people knew to bless him. Today, in temple, grooms are called up for an Aliah and given blessings by the entire congregation. Entering into this new stage of life, one is wished blessings, especially to have a family. Furthermore, a groom is likened to a King. A King was supposed to write a Torah, and always have one with him. One reason was so that in this elevated status he did not get carried away with himself. This is an important time in a man’s life to be made aware of the Torah. It is their guide for a good marriage.
So why are people poking jokes at the King? Well it's sort of the same thing as having the inspiration with him. He needs perspective! It's important to keep this guy humble. Today, he's the star of the show. But in that union he's got to remember maybe he's the King, but he's marrying a Queen. He needs to know he's got flaws and shortcomings too. When someone gets stuck thinking "I'm the man"! He could possibly forget: I'm the hu- man!
His cohorts are just trying to let him know -sure you’re a great guy, but not too great.
I'm almost betting the bride’s parents put the friends up to this job time and again. Probably some secret ancient tradition passed down from: parents -of the -bride to parents-of the -bride.
Reminding him of his history also conveys a message - You've got to see yourself as a work in progress. Look at all the crazy stuff you did in the past, and the fact that you have grown, hopefully, since doing that. So, there's always room to grow!
He's got to be ready to take out the garbage, pick up his socks from his side of the bed, and tune in to the all that stuff that is not said, which, in her opinion, he should figure out anyway. Now that last job is not an easy one, and certainly not easy for someone who is too full of himself to be hearing the silences.
So the Aufruf makes him the center, but also takes him down a notch or two. Not necessarily the worst thing.
Strangely, usually at the same time there is a Shabbas Kallah going on. All the bride's friends come over and talk about what an amazing person she is. Only! Not a negative word is on the roster! Could the bride's parents be behind this tradition as well? Or does she just have a better PR person?!
Aufruf means "calling him up" but maybe what they really meant to be saying is, "calling him out". You know, not letting him get away with stuff. Whatever the reason is for this tradition of teasing, cajoling, poking fun at, or gently nudging the guy -I think the important thing is to remember it's all done in good faith. These are his best of friends doing it, not some random strangers. Maybe the real message they are there to convey is -"no matter what your flaws are, you are a lovable guy! So if sometimes you feel a little unattended to, underappreciated, or called out about something, remember, you are still a lovable guy. You're with your new best friend, and just like us, she can love you even when you're not perfect!!"Rivki Rosenwald is a certified relationship counselor, and career and life coach. She can be contacted at 917-705-2004 or email@example.com<mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
Why So Many Young Jewish Couples are Divorcing
He had a good point. Many speak about the ‘singles crisis’ and we also hear a lot about couples who are not making it to their second and third anniversary. If we could put our finger on what is contributing to the problem, perhaps we can find solutions that can transform this painful bind that many young people find themselves facing today.
I think there are four key factors we need to contemplate.
1. Disposable Society
Who fixes appliances anymore? Toaster ovens, microwaves, and alarm clocks get tossed while quickly outdated laptops, iPhones and cars get traded in for the latest model. After all, new is always better. Our kids lose their clothing knowing that we’ll just buy them more of the same next time. Somehow it has become no big deal to throw away or replace what we’ve lost.
This thinking has seeped into our attitudes towards the people in our lives. I’ve seen it in the conversations I’ve had with couples who are facing marital issues. One young woman said to me, “So what’s the big deal? I’ll get a divorce and find another one. There are lots of men out there. Look at all my friends.”
When we see relationships as disposable, whether they are friendships or marriage, the sacred bond becomes easily unglued. We’ve lost the ability to value what we have, including the people we’re supposed to cherish the most. All relationships have their ups and downs. The mindset that it never pays to fix things and that newer is better impacts our daily lives, lessening the sacrosanct value inherent in marriage.
We need to value the people and things we have in our lives. Work on appreciation and stop taking relationships for granted.
2. Instant Gratification
Whatsapp, texting and emails have brought us to expect an immediate response. Otherwise we wonder, “What is taking so long! Why didn’t they answer me?” Instead of waiting our turn to be helped in the store we just click and order most things online. We have next day delivery. I remember taking my film in to be developed when I was a little girl and anticipating the day it would be ready for pickup. Who can imagine not viewing your photo and sending it to others across the world instantly? We’ve lost the ability to be patient. We expect it all to be there for us right here, right now.
What does this have to do with relationships?
Serious dating and marriage takes work. You will not always see instant results. Love grows with time. The more we nourish a relationship the greater we feel invested in this partnership. If we don’t automatically feel madly in love or don’t always see the fruits of our labor, what then? Do we just give up and move on?
When couples look back through their years of being together they realize how much they have evolved. Sure there were great obstacles and dark moments. What would have happened if they decided then that it’s not what they thought it would be, so why go on together? (I am not speaking about abusive or intolerable situations). With time and much sweat, tears and self-work is born a love that is deeper than one could have ever imagined. Love is not instant. Marriage is built on a “mature love” that is carefully nurtured. Great patience is required.
Expecting instant gratification strips us of the opportunity to work through the difficult times and climb life’s tougher moments together. We give up too easily believing that there is no point if we don’t see what we want to see or feel what we want to feel right now. We end up selling ourselves and our relationships short.
3. FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)
You see parties posted online, other people’s vacations, even delicious sushi or steak dinners and think to yourself, what about me? This fear of missing out is not good for singles and married couples. Comparing lives, wondering if there is something better out there, and checking out Facebook posts feeds this frenzy.
People are too busy counting everyone else’s blessings to see their own. Commitment requires one to be happy with what we have. FOMO is the exact opposite. There comes a point where we must make peace with our lives. We need to make a decision to stop glancing over our shoulder. Dating with one eye on who else may be around becomes an impossible way to create a lasting relationship. And surely one can’t have a solid marriage thinking that others have it better.
Begin with making a conscious mental U-turn. Stop looking at others and work on being satisfied with all you’ve been given. Seek out the good in your days and the people in your life. Instead of imagining other people’s happiness, work on creating your own. You will become self-satisfied and content.
4. A Disconnected World
Technology has connected us but it has also brought us farther apart. We’ve become used to communicating through texts instead of speaking. Singles have told me that their dating hit a roadblock when they began texting instead of talking. Husbands and wives converse while staring at their screens. Eye contact brings deeper connection-now this is lacking. Couples listen with half an ear and see with half an eye. Of course our relationships are affected. We also get bored easily with those next to us; constantly checking our phones. Our loved ones begin to feel irrelevant.
The greatest gift we can give ourselves is to put down our devices and pay more attention to those around us.
Whether you are single or married, or raising children who will be in future relationships, contemplate how these four factors affect your relationships. A few simple changes can allow us to live better, and love better too.
The Way You Make Your Bed Is The Way You Sleep In It!
Rivki D. Rosenwald Esq., CLC, SDS
One of the best things in the world, when you're a kid, is a sleepover date. You'll sleep on the floor the rug, the carpet, you don't care. What's a mattress between friends? You'll get 3 hours of sleep - more than enough! A ratty blanket, no sheet, a hard pillow- whatever, it's all good. It's a sleepover.
But replay that as an adult? Are you insane?! The mattress must be just so, exactly to your specs- hard, firm, bouncy whatever your preference is -it better be on that bed you sleep in. 3 pillows, 8 pillows, 10 pillows - whatever you are used to .... you just cannot entertain sleep without that number! And your prized pillow or pillowcase, that, you must schlep from home!
"The shades don't make the room dark enough!" " The AC's not cool enough!" "The heat’s not high enough!" " The bathrooms not close enough!" The litany of shortcomings is endless. If you could just dump your entire master bedroom in to your suitcase, then you'd be fine with a sleep over.
But short of that - the headache, backache, lost sleep, exhaustion and irritation, is just not worth the sacrifice.
What happened to that resilient, little floor sleeper of yesteryear? When did you become this inflexible kvetch?!
If the guest room you're put in is not the Taj Mahal, you want out of there! If the accommodations aren’t as good as home, you feel like crying like a baby.
In all honesty, sometimes you’re just homesick for the familiar, even if it's not that bad a place. Cause the truth is even if your bed is bumpy, lumpy or concave you are used to your bed. Your body has etched its form into a location and sleep is defined by your relationship with that spot.
So how can adults have sleep overs? Well first they must pack their collection of pills. Ambien, Tylenol PM, melatonin, whatever does the trick for them. Then the reason to leave home must be compelling enough to move them out of their complacency. Now, for a couple, this is a definite negotiating point. Your sister's kid's Bar Mitzvah, is different from his sister's kid's bar mitzvah. And vice versa. Your best friend's event is not his best friend's. And his best buddy’s first kid is not your best buddy’s first kid.
Beds have a way of being less horrible if your incentive to be there is greater. But with a couple there is often different levels of incentive. The more one has to be there, the more easily they can re-tap into their childhood resiliency. But! ...for the spouse who is not as motivated to be there, he or she is focused more on all the adult frustrations. Therefore, ----What must go up for one as the comfort goes down for the other, is one spouses level of appreciation that the other came. And then as the appreciation goes up the respondent better be able to gracefully say or imply -it's no big deal. I'm glad to do this with you! Despite the cold compress on their head, ice on their back or bags under their eyes, -good relationship skills are about being able to feel: what's comfortable enough for you, is comfortable enough for me. If you can see the flower through the thorns so can I!
The better side of wisdom often feels like -leave the spouse at home and grab your kid! They can sleep anywhere! To them it's an adventure. In fact, if they actually get a bed they're ecstatic! They don't wonder why the place they are staying doesn't have their brand of coffee, their diet sweetener, or the milk they like in it. Though, they may give you a run for your money if they don't find a breakfast cereal that they can eat. Still they will first sort through the collection and be open to trying a new one as long as it looks interesting to them. That spirit of adventure is still with them.
Maybe what we should do is ask some questions before our guests arrive, like we do in relation to food. You know like, “is there anything you don't eat?” Or, “does anyone have any food allergies?” Ok, I know, we food shop every week, we are not about to redecorate our guest room each time a new guests shows up!
I guess it would be smart to walk in to our guest room once in a while and lie down on the bed and think, could I actually sleep in here? Have I at least tried to make it the best accommodation that I can? I know I can't meet every adult's requirements, but can I step it up a bit. Add a variety of pillows. Buy newer, softer, fresher bedding. Make sure the blinds work -not every neighbor needs to know that my guest is getting dressed!
So even though it seems that sometime, and as a parent I'd speculate just around high school age, adults do start to appreciate the need for sleep more than kids do. And even though adult agendas do start to demand coherence a bit more than a kids. Maybe - just maybe, the only solution for a guest to get through a visit with a good attitude is to somehow remember there was once a time that the experience was certainly much greater than the comfort of the bed they were assigned to!!!
Rivki Rosenwald is a certified relationship counselor, and career and life coach. She can be contacted at 917-705-2004 or email@example.com<mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org