Thursday, August 31, 2006

Fade to black

Posted by Soccer Dad

I want to thank Ezzie for giving me an opportunity hold forth in his blog and for his kind words about me.

I want to apologize to him because I'm about to open a can of worms.

When I checked out his link about the bad attitudes of some FFB's, I read the Kallah magazine criticism of the answer. The case sounded familiar because my wife and I had discussed the question and answer a few days ago.

My wife who had previously read the item didn't find anything objectionable about it. Because of the controversy, I read the answer and didn't see it as offensive either.

The question is no doubt one that parents whether they are born frum (religious) or not deal with. In this case the mother of a teenager was upset that her daughter, despite guidance, had tastes that her parents - who were baalei teshuva - relatively newly observant - disapproved of.

So Mrs. Radcliffe answered by systematically bringing up the possible sources of the daughter's tastes. One paragraph in particular struck me
“In addition, baalei teshuva are often independent-minded individuals, strong enough to break away from their families, their friends, and their communities to make a new life in the frum world. The characteristics that allowed them to make such an enormous life transition also affect their parenting style. They may encourage exploration, experimentatiion, independent thinking, and other individualistic tendencies in their children. .. children who don’t ‘toe the line’ very well or who don’t fit in. In other words, the children may also be individualistic not necessarily willing to follow their parents’ example in Torah living!”

I hardly thought that this was in any way condescending. It was saying that the same qualities that the parents had were likely passed down to the children. In this case, though, the child's way of expressing herself would be to enjoy things that her parents rejected.

Basic message: Don't worry too much, though right now your daughter, due to influences or personality traits is doing things you may not approve of (I'm guessing that it's along the lines of listening to secular music.) but just as she's chosen this path right now, she may well choose to disregard these activities, likely even with the her parents' guidance.

I did not read the letter that KallahMagazine cited in the beginning, but I've heard of that attitude. I just don't see it in Mrs. Radcliffe's letter.

My wife, BTW, is a ba'alas teshuva.

Shoshanna please understand, I'm not trying to offend you. I just really feel that the answer was taken out of context.


  1. I'm glad to see someone taking the side of the advice giver here, even though I vehemently disagree with most of what she said.

    I'm wondering if Avraham Avinu was somehow deficient in his parenting skills, being raised by Terach and all.

  2. That's not the way I read the response. What I read was, here the extra challenges you are dealing with; not you are a deficient parent.

    Did you see the complete uncommented upon response? (I'm guessing that you did.)

  3. SD

    Yes, I did.

    I think that the writer may have been generalizing and may also have been unable to get her point across due to the inarticulate nature of her response.

    All in all, I think she created the perception that a BT could never be as good a parent as an FFB. Clearly, this is not going to be the case across the board. I also think that she makes a blanket point about the negative aspects of socializing with non-frum relatives. Again, this is always going to be an individual situation and often will have positive parenting potential (as Shoshana pointed out).

  4. I did not get that impression from the response that she was writing that a BT could not make as good a parent as an FFB. As I've written, she was limiting herself to BT's because that's what the question was about.