Friday, April 29, 2011

A Word from the Director: 4/29/2011

It’s great to be home and getting back into my normal life routine again after Pesach break. The texting on my phone had been non-stop throughout Chol HaMoed and as soon as Yom Tov ended, with all the boys eagerly waiting to return to Aish Tamid and our programming activities. I do a lot of preaching for people to work, or be in a school program, or go to the gym, or get up for davening on a consistent basis. A strong sense of self-esteem is critical in taking the initial step. I feel the first way to deal with someone’s self-esteem is to make them feel productive, giving them a reason to get up in the morning. Once they are in a productive mode, then we can initiate the process. As they proceed, we can then show them their accomplishments along the way, which continues to boost their self-confidence.

This week we have unfortunately been dealing with someone who is incarcerated, and of course the trauma that the family has been dealing with. We have been dealing with available resources, including Rabbi Landau, Howard Winkler, the Alef Institute and Carrie Newman. We appreciate all of their help and efforts. We should never have to experience that with any of our children, but it does happen. The question is always “do we run to bail them out or are we enabling them by doing so?” We have to teach them a sense of responsibility to some degree. Every situation is different, of course, and we obviously do not want to see any of our kids, Chas Veshalom, spending time behind bars.

Enabling is a very interesting concept, something that we as parents do very well. We do it out of love for our children, but at times we do more harm than good with it. I have copied a definition and a few examples from Internet of the Mind:

In the true sense of the word, to enable is to supply with the means, knowledge, or opportunity to be or do something -- to make feasible or possible.
Here are some examples...

• Repeatedly bailing them out - of jail, financial problems, other "tight spots" they get themselves into
• Giving them "one more chance" - ...then another...and another
• Ignoring the problem - because they get defensive when you bring it up or your hope that it will magically go away
• Joining them in the behavior when you know they have a problem with it - Drinking, gambling, etc.
• Joining them in blaming others - for their own feelings, problems, and misfortunes
• Accepting their justifications, excuses and rationalizations - "I'm destroying myself with alcohol because I'm depressed"
• Avoiding problems - keeping the peace, believing a lack of conflict will help
• Doing for them what they should be able to do for themselves
• Softening or removing the natural consequences of the problem behavior
• Trying to "fix" them or their problem
• Repeatedly coming to the "Rescue"
• Trying to control them or their problem

One personal story about enabling: I take pride in the fact that I do not enable by giving out money if I have any suspicions of substance abuse or addiction. Having said that, I will sometimes pay for food or gas, though this can also be enabling. A few weeks ago on Shabbos afternoon during my nap, my kids woke me up to tell me that somebody broke into my car and walked out with a bag. The trunk was not locked and I didn’t think I had anything to steal and, nu, what can I do. After Shabbos, I checked the car and there was nothing missing. The following Tuesday, a certain individual came over to to me to tell me that he had a very nice Shabbos. I asked, “Where were you?”, and he told me that he had been sleeping in my car. He had nowhere else to sleep. Although this was very sad, I was enabling him by leaving my car unlocked. Needless to say, even I enable as well!

We have a special visitor from New York, Rabbi Mitnick, who was one of the founders of “Our Place”, one of the first drop-in centers and at risk programs in New York. He is also a Rebbe at Kamenitz and was a Rebbe at TAB for many years. If you would like to meet with him, please call the office and we can arrange a meeting.

A few of our older working teens have joined together to help pay for an in-ground basketball hoop in the parking lot. The boys are very excited. It will be a half court and we will hopefully have it painted. We will keep you posted.

We want to thank Selma Fisch for sending over boxes of snacks and soda for the boys to enjoy. We have many kids in the building during the day, either for the gym, the GED class, or to just hang out. We appreciate this generosity and it will definitely go to good use.

Lastly, I have had numerous requests from students regarding yeshiva placement for their year abroad in Eretz Yisroel. Additionally, there are many yeshivot in the East Coast for high school students, which I inquired about over Pesach. At some point, I may take a yeshiva road trip to the East Coast in order to be better educated on how to direct you all. If you have a son that needs a yeshiva, please feel free to contact us at the office.

We should all have an easy adjustment back into our normal life routines.

Good Shabbos!

Rabbi Gavriel Hershoff

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