| Words Unspoken |

Dear Mentor…

Yes, this is a child with issues. Yes, she ran away from home. Does that make it okay for you to cut us out of her life?


ear Mentor,

My daughter is off the derech.

Off the derech. You know what that means, right?

A whole lot of pain all around. Sleepless nights. A challenging time, explaining her behavior to the rest of the family, wishing I could explain it to the rest of the world. Being talked about, judged, given no end of unsolicited advice.

None of this is your fault, of course. I appreciate you stepping in and doing what you believe is best for my child. And to whatever degree you’re keeping her away from harm, well, only Hashem can reward you.

I don’t want to sound ungrateful. But if your concern is genuine and your motives are pure, I’m sure you would want what’s best for my daughter. And honestly? I’m not convinced that a lot of what you’re doing is really in her best interest.

In his outstanding book With Cords of Love, based on Rabbi Mattisyahu Salomon’s teachings, Rabbi Ezriel Tauber discusses how important it is to take the perspective of a struggling teen’s parents seriously.

You haven’t bothered asking for mine.

Not even once.

And when I give you my input, you’re quick to dismiss it. Why do you think you know better than the two people who raised her and love her?

But I get that parents in a situation like this are the easy, obvious target. We were too strict, or not strict enough. Too religious, or too permissive. Never gave her enough attention, or were helicopter parents. Clearly, if she’s in this situation now, her parents messed up. Never mind that she has both older and younger siblings who are perfectly fine. If she’s here now, her parents must be part of the problem.

Whatever happened to the Divine assistance granted to parents? How can you strip parents of their privilege and responsibility to be involved in their child’s life?

Yes, this is a child with issues. Yes, she ran away from home. Does that make it okay for you to cut us out of her life?

Your relationship with my daughter will last for a few years. Maybe. My relationship with her, for better or for worse, is forever. And yet you insist on driving the wedge between me and my daughter deeper than ever.

I realize many people reading this will say there must be something wrong if this is where my kid is holding now. And that’s okay. Being judged by the world is part of what I’m going through, and I accept it b’ahavah.

But I take issue with the way you’re making a difficult situation much, much worse. I’m trying to find it within me to see the good and to forgive you. I know you mean well, but you don’t realize the extent of the damage you’re doing. You persist in keeping me out of the loop, making moves behind my back, and trying to force my hand in a way that I’m not comfortable with. You’re so sure you have all the answers, and that I’m completely clueless.

May Hashem look upon you favorably and forgive you not just for the pain, but for the real damage your misguided chesed is causing. Because I know you mean no harm.

May we reach a point where all pain is healed, and we have real answers. Until then, I’ll work on being able to forgive you. But as long as you continue making light of my input into my child’s life, forgiveness is getting increasingly harder.

Wishing you and all of Klal Yisrael complete forgiveness from the only One Who really matters,

A Parent in Pain

(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 660)

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Tagged: Words Unspoken