Monday, April 16, 2007

To paraphrase: It's about the kids, stupid.

Aish sent out emails today with one of their recently posted articles, this one about a new book that has just come out, called "To Kindle a Soul: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Parents and Teachers" (Leviathan Press). I have not read the book, but I have added it to my "to read" list. What caught my eye was the first few paragraphs of the book review:

"If you were to glance over the list of mothering tasks that I perform over the course of an average day, you might think that I am totally replaceable. Bring in a conscientious babysitter, an average (or even below-average) short-order chef and maid, and a sympathetic nurse for emergencies, and my children would be no worse off.

For 50 years, the Israeli kibbutz movement tried to do just that. Kibbutz children ate healthy meals in a communal dining hall, were cared for after school by devoted and carefully-trained kibbutz members, and slept in a communal "children's house" equipped with a state-of-the-art intercom for children to alert the kibbutz member on duty if they had a bad dream in the middle of the night.

The results were tragic. Dozens of academic studies of kibbutz children have revealed that over half of them have grown up into adults who suffer from trauma and serious psychological disorders.

The diagnosis? Severe lack of love."

My generation, the "Generation Xers" was only about half raised in daycare. But many of the "Yers", the generation of my children, spend upwards of 18 hours a day in institutionalized care of some sort: daycare, school, organized activities, etc. This is the "columbine shooting" generation - a generation of kids raised essentially in the same way as the earlier Kibbutz kids were, by strangers.

How can people deny that the dysfunction of today's secular kids has its origin in women sacrificing their children on the altar of their careers - for selfish "self-fulfillment?" They buy their kids video games and all the latest electronic gadgets to convince themselves that what they're providing their kids with is really "opportunity" and not "deprivation." This is far beyond the "mommy wars," this is a society that has raised kids to enjoy killing (in cyberspace), to value hate and destruction (in cyberspace), to praise crime (in cyberspace), and to devalue women, mothers, and children as burdens (rap music, popular culture, and cyberspace). Where can this society go but down?

These kids have no idea how to love and nurture, because they've never experienced it. They were raised in herds by strangers that, however well trained and professional, could never love them like their real parents. Were the kids in the Kibbutz abused or neglected? No. They were cared for attentively by their caregivers.

But it wasn't enough. And it isn't enough now. Children need to be raised by their parents, especially their mothers, and not by strangers, class. Even the "capable wife" of Proverbs worked at home and set her own hours - she wasn't sold into servitude to some CEO's business that separated from her duties to her kids, her husband, her family, and her community. This is not the way God wants families to be.

It's probably too late for today's kids, especially secular women. They can't even imagine themselves as responsible married adults raising children. But in the frum world we still have, however buried, a recognition that this is God's way, and we need to bring it back to the forefront of our culture. It is men's job to go out and earn a living. It is women's responsibility to raise their own children - to give them the foundation they need for a functional life. What many kids are getting instead is dysfunctional psychological trauma, as the reviewer noted.

And then we wonder why they're "at risk" or "in crisis."

It's not rocket science.

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