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October 24, 2014

Communication Part 2

by Rabbi Dovid Felt

Hoping you had an uplifting Yomim Noraim as well as a joyous Yom Tov. School is back in session with all major and most minor kinks worked out. Students, teachers & parents are ready to get into the thick of things and now the real work starts. For the teachers the newness of the school year has come and gone, for the students they have already caught up with their friends about what’s new and cool and for parents the most they are going to get out of their adolescent about school is the occasional grunt “school oh yes, its ok”. What does that mean? How do parents  fulfill their role as supporters of their children’s development with such a response.

This is where communication between parents and their children comes into play. How do we ensure there is a dialogue? In this weeks’ Parsha we see an unprecedented level of communication among the inhabitants of the entire world to the extent that Rashi tells us that all of humanity were in agreement (The UN wishes it could duplicate that level of unanimity). Rashi later on in the Parsha tells us that this level of Achdus was real. Rashi writes “that they conducted themselves with love and friendship” answering how it was that the flood generation was destroyed whereas the dispersion generation was spared even though their transgression was by far greater (their plan was to attack HKB”H).

So what was their secret? How were they able to achieve and maintain such a powerful level of Achdus. The answer lies in the words “The whole earth had one language” sharing the same language with others is how one connects and creates relationships. We see from the Torah how powerful communication is, it can traverse over socio-economic statuses, distance and time. For all of humanity to be in unison it must have meant that one’s financial situation, demographic and age were not an issue. Thus finding a common language with our children is how we communicate with them. A common language is not necessarily English, Hebrew or even Yiddish it is a language they relate to. For some children it is music, for some it is nature, for some it is a video game and for others it is a combination of Whatsapp, Xbox and singing Zemiros at the Shabbos table.

Knowing your child’s modes of communication is the key to his heart. Rashi attests to that as we saw earlier. So what went wrong? Why did this generation that had achieved the elusive “peace among nations” go so wrong? Once again Rashi helps us by telling us that they lacked Hakoras Hatov – they had just been rescued by HKB”H from a flood that had destroyed the majority of the world and here they were, ready to wage war against their savior. If the foundation of a relationship is based on gratitude it is a relationship that is guaranteed to be an everlasting one. This is one of the most important lessons we can teach our children (to be expounded on more in a later episode).

 

Felt Tip:

Catch your child being good

This may sound very simple or at least as simple as noticing every time you child doesn’t do what he is supposed to do. But the truth is, it’s much more difficult. When something is out of place we notice it – when it is where it belongs we pass over it without a second glance.

Therein lies the value of this Felt Tip – catching your child being good is an exercise for us as parents as well as being helpful in encouraging good behavior. Just like the early bird catches the worm, we need to rise early – mostly figuratively 🙂 and pay attention to what is happening in our child’s life and learn to appreciate them. Completing this exercise will also help us learn what our children’s modes of communication are (see above).

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