May 20, 2024
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The Power of the Words ‘You Can’t’

What happens when something is a forbidden fruit? You can’t have that delicious-looking piece of chocolate cake. You can’t have that dress you love because it is too expensive. We only want those things more, even more than if they were not forbidden.

Same is true for our children. You can’t have any candy. You can’t use an iPad. The more something is totally forbidden, the more they will want it.

In Bereishit, Hashem gave Adam and Chava in Gan Eden all the fruits from all the trees but one to eat from. There was a bounty from which to choose. It would seem that Hashem set Adam and Chava up to fail when there was just one tree to not eat from. Why would Hashem do such a thing? The answer is Hashem gave Adam and Chava the beautiful world of Gan Eden and all that came with it but he also needed to give them freedom of choice. Without freedom of will they would be mere puppets.

Chava had the choice to eat from anything in Gan Eden except from the Etz Hada’at. The nachash (snake) did not have to work too hard for Chava to eat from it and to tempt Adam to eat from this one forbidden, singled out tree. Why? Because it was forbidden.

As parents it is our role to help our children first identify that which is 100% forbidden. We call these non-negotiables. When someone has a severe allergy there is no room for negotiating. We cannot use the iPad on Shabbat. It is critical that items in this category can never be negotiated.

Secondly, we need to help our children learn to manage the concept of something that is forbidden at times. How do we, as parents, avoid setting the trap of the forbidden fruit? For starters the answer is as old as time…moderation. Setting limits or parameters on things in life that are better not to indulge in is usually a better route. For example, no candy during the week but one special candy on shabbat. Choosing only one less-healthy snack a day. iPad time can have limits put on it; for example, a 4-year-old can be set at 15 minutes a day four days a week. Using a timer is helpful in this situation.

Each of us has our own struggles with forbidden fruits that we continue to work through. As we think about helping our children, let’s try to remember to avoid saying no, which makes them forbidden and thereby more desirable and, rather, say how and when.

By Linda Stock

 Linda Stock has been an educator for over 35 years and in educational administration for the last 16 years. She has a private practice working with children: Linda Stock Learning Specialist, [email protected].

 

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