May 28, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Turn the Radio Off and Listen to Yourselves

Everyone is in agreement, unless one is a political junkie, that it has become almost impossible to escape the torrent of information coming through various media options. Even as some of us might be anxious to hear what’s going on between Cleveland and Chicago in the World Series it becomes a challenge to get directly to the station or channel without passing through a curt, disgusting message from one of the candidates about the other. The unpleasantness of this election and the ad campaigns is not only evident in the presidential camps. Local New Jersey politicians have made their fair share of comments about each other to the extent that they should be ashamed.

How can we protect our children from hearing the banter going on at Shabbos tables, shul meetings and social events about this scourge of commentary? We are looking forward to Nov. 8, in that we are hoping that a majority of these diatribes will be over.

Then again, is it only during an election campaign that we should be concerned about what our children hear? Obviously it is impossible to control what goes on around us. What happens in the street, on the bus, in the subway we have no control over. However, we are able to control something most people do not give too much thought to. We are speaking specifically of the way that we as couples address each other and talk to each other in front of our children.

We have been in homes when to the utmost dismay of other adults present in the room, husbands and wives have insulted each other and made fun of each other. They have used derogatory words to each other without considering the little minds that are listening to and absorbing what is going on between their parents. They criticize and insult each other without giving it a thought.

We remember being present at a Nefesh conference (Nefesh is the worldwide organization of Orthodox mental health professionals, of which Mordechai was the president for many years) when Rabbi Dr. Avraham Twerski said in one of his presentations: “I don’t understand. Frum couples hesitate to show any fondness or physical contact with each other in front of their children but they do not hesitate to scream at each other in front of their children.”

It is true that we are all concerned about what our children hear in the world outside of their homes. The question is how many of us are concentrating on what they hear inside of their homes? For a husband to call his wife “crazy” and a wife to tell her husband that he is “so lazy” cannot have a positive effect on their children. To remind a husband or wife of their weight gain and publicly deride a spouse in front of children can have many repercussions in their children’s future relationships. It is not funny when one calls a spouse “an idiot” even in jest. We are speaking from the experience of having been with friends when this type of conversation has taken place. We would have loved to fall through the floor while it was occurring. Another friend took great pleasure in deriding his wife because she is a woman and “what do women know?” None of these actions are positive and certainly we should be more concerned about them than what our children are hearing on the radio for the next week leading up to the election. We need to look into ourselves carefully. Do we want our sons and daughters to grow into relationships where they will consider it the norm to make fun of a partner shortly after the bliss of dating, engagement and a wedding take place? We need to carefully think about the examples that we are teaching them. They will remember and absorb for their entire life the communication skills of their parents. The respect and love that one shows to the other is what we pray they will emulate. Yes, many of us tend to turn off the station, but the most important program that our children are listening to is the program they are tuned into each day. The announcers, actors and players are us—their parents and family. Let it be that our concerns for what goes on in our homes in front of our children precludes what is being said on the radio and TV. It is easier to turn off the radio and, with the remote, click off the TV. It is more difficult to work on ourselves, but it needs to be done.

By Rabbi Mordechai and Nina Glick

 

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