Monday, July 2, 2012

What did I sign up for--Family values

Both Thing 1 and Thing 2 are in camp, and the house is too quiet.
Everyone says it's good for them to go to camp.  Believe me, I'm glad they're enjoying it.  I'm glad they're swimming and going on trips.  I'm glad they're doing arts and crafts.  I'm glad they like the kids in their bunks.
But I'm not glad about the follow-up statement everyone makes.  "When they're done, you'll want to send them back for the next month."  No I won't!  Four weeks is quite enough of a separation. 
And now, for what I don't understand. 
When I was still on the receiving end of all that kiruv, I heard about how family-oriented Judaism was.  How people valued their children.  (It helped that my rav in San Diego homeschooled his own kids through the eighth grade.)  However, I'm not seeing it.  Sure, my neighbors have large families.  They clearly love their babies.  But I don't see that as "valuing one's children."  What I've observed is that parents have a baby, ooh and aah over it for about two or three years, dress it up and show it off, and then shove it out the door into year-round institutional care before the child is out of diapers.  Then it's on to the next kid.
Now, I get the need for daycare, particularly for working families.  However, most of my neighbors are housewives.  Why put your kids in school, camp, Sunday program, B'nos group, Shabbos study sessions, and all the other activities that draw kids away from the home?  How much of this all-important "socialization" does a kid need?  What about time to just talk to your kids, teach them to "help Mommy," sing them nursery rhymes, and show them the world?  (And, by the world, I don't mean the inside of various department stores.  But I hate shopping.)  What about letting them be kids?  How much can we value families if families never spend any time together?
All this has a very negative impact.  When kids come home from yeshiva or seminary, they have no qualms telling Mommy and Totty that they're "not doing it right."  That the family's way of living is "not Jewish enough."  They should have qualms.  These are the people who raised them!  Who loved, fed, clothed, and sheltered them!  Who paid all that tuition so the kids could repay it by acting holier than the parents.  Quite frankly, I think any yeshiva or seminary education that does not emphasize respecting parents (you know, one of the "big Ten" etched in stone by the Hand of G-d) is a total waste.  And it undermines the very family that Judaism is supposed to value.

1 comment:

I'm not Monty Python. I hate SPAM.