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Family First Inbox: Issue 783

"Whether it’s a hobby, a volunteer activity, or a new job, we need to keep growing. Which will minimize inappropriately turning to our adult children to have our needs met"

Not a Hero — a Wife [Lifetakes / Issue 782]

I read your Lifetakes about the writer who met a woman caring for her husband with dementia, and how she admired her.

I have never been called a hero for taking care of my husband a”h who had dementia. We were married many years and have many grandchildren and great-grandchildren with whom he was zocheh to share the smachot as best he could.

We did have a caregiver for the last two and a half years of his life, but the entire responsibility was still mine. Dementia steals a person’s, life little by little, and all one can do is hope that Hashem will be meracheim. And He was.

When you live with someone who davened every day, who put on tefillin every day, who checked times for Shabbat and Yom Tov although he was unable to walk or go to shul, it is overwhelmingly sad to adjust to a new reality. Walking away or putting him in a facility was never even a fleeting thought.

Yes, maybe we are heroes to some. But to me, I was a wife who shared a life with a man who was my zivug. I miss him more than I can express, but I am grateful for the years we had together and for our progeny, many of whom live in Israel as we do.



Mothering Our Adult Children [Let Them Grow and Let Them Go / Issue 781]

The three wise columnists in your article excellently portrayed how to mother our married children.

The pieces were based in hashkafah and also grounded in reality. Theory combined with practical pointers… what a winning combination.

The article also extended the conversation to parenting our unmarried adult children. These children need our support no less — and probably even more, what with not having an established home or the support of a marriage partner.

Lastly, the columnists encouraged us empty nesters to have a strong plan to fill our days. Whether it’s a hobby, a volunteer activity, or a new job, we need to keep growing. Which will minimize inappropriately turning to our adult children to have our needs met, along with many other benefits.

Sara Brejt,



Why Don’t the Kids Want to Come? [Let Them Grow and Let Them Go / Issue 781]

Thank you for the beautiful article about parenting married children. I have another point to ponder regarding the mother who asked why couldn’t her kids inconvenience themselves to come to make her happy,

Do mothers want their children to inconvenience themselves to make them happy? Or is their deep desire for their children to actively want to come home and seek their company? What is it that when things aren’t so convenient (or even when they are), the children aren’t coming?

Am I going to get upset at my self-centered children? Or will I look inward, to see how I can make my home and my presence a very safe haven where my children and grandchildren want to hang out?

Name Withheld


Reevaluating [I’m Stuck / Issue 780]

I was happy to read the advice given to a nursing student who decided to reevaluate her YouTube usage. I am pleased the magazine is not afraid to address or stigmatize these real life struggles our people are encountering today. It is also very personalized depending on your values (not everyone will agree on the same definition of “pareve” content) and how much down time is appropriate for you to spend in this sort of outlet.

I commend the letter writer for introspecting and realizing that she wants something different. It’s so easy to get into a habit, without ever evaluating if it’s what you really want for yourself.

I have another tidbit of advice for anyone in a similar situation. I found it very helpful to remove YouTube from my phone. I only access YouTube on the computer, which has numerous benefits. It avoids the extremely time wasting and dubious content of the new “shorts” section, which can be very tempting. This also ensures that videos aren’t there at the tip of your fingers — you can only view them with intent, when you go over to the computer. There are also apps for mobile and Chrome extensions to block or limit how much time you can spend on a website, which can keep you from wasting time and forces you to prioritize.

Another woman reevaluating her time online


Family Ties That Bind [Inbox / Issue 779]

Thank you for the article on difficult family members. I appreciated the focus on forging relationships despite difficulties. Family ties are a tremendous value in our frum society; your article highlights a less explored angle of that value system.

In reading the article and the ensuing feedback I wondered if there was a measure of nuance and detail missing from the original article.

The article did not discuss many angles that may have helped your readership.

How much contact is still considered contact? Does a “simchah and major life event only” connection count as effort? Who determines what counts? What are some examples of relationships with boundaries that are currently working?

If the difficult family members themselves are unhappy with the level of contact, is the effort and connection still relevant?

What about the spouse of the adult child being discussed? In many of the stories and articles, spouses are described as staunchly supportive of their traumatized partners. But statistically, an abused child is more likely to become attracted to, and marry, an abusive spouse. And where are the voices of adult children without the strength of a spouse behind them?

What of the variations in contact between adult siblings and the parent in question? Each child being raised in a household has a unique experience. Their biological makeup, their place in the family order, the way their parent views them and interacts with them, and their resiliency factors all differ. This means that some adult children can have relatively strong relationships with their parents while others are unable to. Alternatively, some adult children may be taken by the “family narrative,” while others went for help.

As a community of thinking people, let’s continue this discussion.




Kavanah Boosters [Spirit & Sparks / Issue 779]

I read Rebbetzin Esther Reisman’s article on distraction during tefillah. I too have struggled with kavanah during davening for years. For over a dozen years, I’ve gone to an excellent shiur by Rabbi Avraham Garfinkel every two weeks, where we focus on the meaning behind all the words. It helps for the next day or two and then I’m slowly back to my mind wandering.

I’ve asked a few askanim for advice and nothing helped, till I received some wonderful help from Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis, a”h. She advised that I keep my finger running under every word or line as I’m saying it. It keeps me focused so I don’t suddenly realize that I forgot where I’m up to on the page — and it works wonders.

Chevy Shimanowitz


Home of Helping [Pitch for Pitching In / Issue 778]

Rivki Silver’s article about how to get your kids to help out more was very cute and relatable. This is a constant goal of mine.

Here are different points I’ve learned along the way: “Positivize” even the tiniest task a kid helped with, even if it’s so trivial. Notice, compliment, pump it up.

Remember what your true goal is: not that the task should get done, not to solve your own problems, but to instill the values of helping others and contributing to the household, as well as instilling a strong work ethic and building good habits. So when the job is not done perfectly, keep your goal in mind and keep your mouth shut. (Not adhering to this rule will result in constant failure. Most kids won’t do the tasks as well as Mom, so if you’re looking for perfection, you’ll find the child fails every time.)

Money can get super sticky super-fast. The kids will only want to do jobs for money, and they’ll also continue to demand more and more, as they learn to gain leverage and “raise their prices.” This can be an endless, unhealthy cycle where a parent’s authority dissolves into a power struggle, and a money-hungry child becomes manipulative and miserable. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. Our rule has become, first you have to do your regular job(s), and only then can you do extra jobs where you earn money.

When they whine “but it’s hard,” I tell my kids, “The same way we do fun things together, we do hard things together.” I validate the pain (who doesn’t hate dishes?), acknowledge it’s hard but not unfair, and also remind them that our main goal is teamwork. But for this response to be effective, it’s important to actually have those fun times, and so we make sure to have outings, trips, games, and even just Shabbos parties or birthday celebrations to create that “achdus” feeling.

Thanks, Rivki — it’s good to know my kids aren’t the only ones out there who complain about having to help.

Leba Friedman


My Favorite Cream of Chicken Soup [Family Table / Issue 767]

One nice day on a frigid morn’

An idea to cook your soup was born.

Boy,  did it go a very long way,

At warming some hearts on a cold winter day.

The marrieds ran over when they heard somethings cookin’

They lifted the lids and did some lookin’

And before I knew it, planned or not

I soon saw the bottom of my pot.

It keeps getting such rave reviews

Hands down, that’s the dinner they choose.

Truly delightful and delicious

Pure, wholesome, and nutritious.

Please keep such recipes coming to my door

Can’t wait to try some more!

Chana R. Greenfeld


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 783)

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