How to Raise Kids When Neglect is “Normal”

In response to my recent post about neglectful parents, Rachel writes:

I just moved to Israel and I’m shocked that what I consider neglect and benign abuse is considered normal. And not doing it puts you in the category of “freier” [sucker] (which I consider a compliment because it is the type of behavior I want). So my question is how to raise a family when all the values that you consider important go against the norm? I want my children to have better supervision. I want them to eat healthy and not eat Bisli all day long. I want them to have manners, respect people, not cut through lines, etc.
It is easy to say to simply do it at home and they will imitate you, but kids spend so many hours in school and with friends. The environment has a huge influence on kids and as much as you want them to have your values it seems that you are the minority in this country.
So, my question again, how do you raise kids to have your values and not society’s values?

Rachel, before I let my readers reply in the comments section, I suggest printing out your question and looking at it again in another ten years.

My response.

Check out the 2016 fashions at Hydrochic modest swimwear.

Comments

  1. Rachel, here’s a few things I’m doing:
    1) It’s important to me to live in a place where I like the schooling options. I don’t really believe there is a monolithic “Israeli culture”. I think there are prevalent attitudes, for sure, but I think there are many places, from gan on up, where the gannanot and teachers are looking to create a different classroom culture, encourage healthy eating (for example, the mishpachton I found for my very little ones served only homemade food that emphasized a lot of vegetables and whole grains. No candy or junk was ever served at the gan). That really is your first line of defense.
    If you don’t like the way the school or teacher is handling general behavior issues in the classroom and they’re not open to discussing things with you, it might be time to look into another school.
    2) Friends- My older daughter is only in trom chova, but I’m already paying attention to who she’s friends with and I’m looking to cultivate those friendships with children that seem to come from families with similar values (ie: not obsessed with stuff and shopping, etc.)
    I don’t think you’re in the minority if you want these things. I’ve lived in both a very Israeli neighborhood in J-m and I’m living in a more Anglo community now in Raanana. In both places, the majority of parents I’ve encountered, both Israeli and American, want the same things you want. So I don’t think it’s impossible to find these things, you just might have to look a little harder for them. And if you can’t find them in the community where you’re living, it might not be the place for you.

  2. Don’t mix up morals, safety and nutrition.
    Funny, I thought you’d be writing about what I found most shocking when our kids were little. People didn’t always use babysitters. They’d live little kids alone “for just a few minutes.” Maybe things have changed. In those days nobody locked their doors.
    And please don’t forget that plenty of Jews in chutz l’aretz feed junk food and take-out to their kids instead of old fashioned homemade meals.

  3. Rachel, in my opinion, it all starts with the “herd” mentality. If you are willing and able to go against the mainstream, there are many negatives which can be blocked. This route comes with an initially high price tag: social limitations, more involvement on your part in what goes on, more work to keep the kids secure.

  4. good point baila.
    I’ve also become much more relaxed about food after my second child. Otherwise, the chocolate sandwiches they sometimes get in gan would send me over the edge!
    Despite the junk food here, I think kids on the whole here tend to get more exercise. I feel there is more of a park culture here, and hiking and walking is more the norm here- very different then the suburban- everyone in their own backyard/ drive to the supermarket to get a quart of milk culture back in the states.

  5. I don’t think neglect is any more prevalent in Israel, it’s just that here you actually see it. I knew plenty of kids in the states who would go home to an empty house at a ridiculously young age and spend the afternoon in front of the TV eating whatever was available. Here in Israel, many of them would be wandering around outside instead, making them more noticable.
    I agree with Abbi that it’s important to pick a school and a surrounding that shares your approach. I haven’t seen any kids who look younger than 8 or 9 wandering my neighborhood without adult supervision, and even the 8 and 9 year olds only go out w/o adults if they are in a group and very close to home.
    I have seen neighborhoods where parents were more lax, and I found it disturbing. I think that’s a result of the American mentality (not a bad thing, IMO): we are used to the idea of kidnappings and child molesters, so when we see a child alone we imagine all kinds of possible horrible things that could happen. Israel has had far fewer attacks such as those, but there have been enough that people are getting more aware. Still, a lot of parents honestly don’t even think that their child could be kidnapped or attacked by a stranger. Kind of like America 40-odd years ago, at least according to my parents.

  6. Great post idea, there’s so much to say on this subject! I agree with Abbi, it’s not “all or nothing” here- our school has been on a campaign against violence and bullying for a few years now and the teachers have always been very helpful. And kids aren’t allowed to bring junk food other than on Rosh Chodesh. Otherwise they’re supposed to bring a sandwich and a fruit or veg. My son brought bubble gum to school the other day and was sharing with his friends when the teacher saw and said sorry, no gum allowed!
    Also, not all Israelis raise their kids to be “wild”- again, as Abbi suggested, encourage your kids to be friendly with kids who have parents you see eye to eye with. My kids are davka close with several kids whose ISRAELI mothers make sure they behave well, aren’t rude, etc. Many times I’ve seen Israeli kids behave better than some Anglo Olim kids.
    I teach my kids to have manners and all those other “Anglo” behaviors. Hopefully they’ll stick! I think what the kids learn at home IS important- I remember when my oldest was little and said something polite to one of our Israeli friends- please or thank you or excuse me, I can’t remember. They commented on how cute it was.
    Things aren’t as safe here as they used to be, unfortunately. Here in our supposedly safe town a young boy was raped last year and another boy managed to get away. I don’t think the degenerate was ever caught, though there haven’t been any more reports of boys being attacked. There have also been reports lately of a man exposing himself to young girls in town. This is not the Israel of the olden days.

  7. We go against the stream in a lot of ways. It’s often difficult, but I can’t imagine doing what everyone else does either.
    I actively brainwash my kids. I explain the why’s of things to them, so that they’ll understand why we make the choices we make. Why do I give them nutritious foods? Why do I insist they do their own schoolwork? I also run interference for them sometimes. If a child I’m giving a ride to asks why my child (who could be a couple of years older than them) still sits in a booster, I explain exactly why. I recognize that it’s embarassing for my kids to still be in boosters at a late age, so I take the explanation on myself.
    I have seen some evidence that my kids are beginning to buy at least some of it. I believe that parents need to take very seriously their influence, and not let the kids be overly influenced by peers. Peers are fun to play with, and they can teach important social mores, but their judgement is generally not as good as an adult’s. Kids need to learn how to be an adult (and make good decisions) from good adult role models.

  8. We go against the stream in a lot of ways. It’s often difficult, but I can’t imagine doing what everyone else does either.
    I actively brainwash my kids. I explain the why’s of things to them, so that they’ll understand why we make the choices we make. Why do I give them nutritious foods? Why do I insist they do their own schoolwork? I also run interference for them sometimes. If a child I’m giving a ride to asks why my child (who could be a couple of years older than them) still sits in a booster, I explain exactly why. I recognize that it’s embarassing for my kids to still be in boosters at a late age, so I take the explanation on myself.
    I have seen some evidence that my kids are beginning to buy at least some of it. I believe that parents need to take very seriously their influence, and not let the kids be overly influenced by peers. Peers are fun to play with, and they can teach important social mores, but their judgement is generally not as good as an adult’s. Kids need to learn how to be an adult (and make good decisions) from good adult role models.

  9. Where to begin?
    I am also a newbie, and some things are very upsetting to me as well. My daughter goes to ulpan three mornings a week. She is in and out of the regular classroom. When she comes back to class someone is usually in her seat and she has to go sit somewhere else. (Not anymore because I called the teacher to complain). Why did the teacher allow this until I stepped in? If my daughter leaves something on her desk she will find it ripped or scribbled. Nice. And the kids constantly want sips of her water bottle and she knows that we don’t share water bottles or hair brushes, but they pressure her. What else? At the ulpana where my older daughter attends, certain things seem to be optional. For example, they had an overnight seminarion in J-m the other week. The kids were told it was obligatory, but if they had a good reason they would still have to go to school. Out of 60 kids about ten didn’t go. They came to school and were then rewarded by being told they could go home. At the seminarion itself many kids cut the shiurim, without any consequences. Where are the adults, the educators? I know you’ll probably tell me I should consider switching schools, but being a new olah my daughter’s choices are limited. She is extremely frustrated by it. As far as this stuff happenning in the states, it didn’t.
    I wish I felt better by venting, but I don’t.
    I do like it that Israeli kids seem to be more independant, they seem to take more responsibilty around the house. We are definitely more physically active than we were. But…
    Anyway, Rachel, is that you from ulpan?

  10. Abbi,
    And that’s the truth. You get what you pay for. But, most of the time I remember why we are here and that Israeli education, and culture really, are oranges to American apples. It’s not fair to compare. And my kids, believe it or not, are doing okay in spite of all the nonsense. We just have alot to get used to.
    As MII said, I’ll look at this in ten years (and hopefully sooner) differently. I just hope my grandchildren don’t take the new olim’s seat away.

  11. I asked a friend of mine who’s oldest is already in hesder how the schools here compare to yeshiva day schools in the states. She said “Look, you can’t compare what you get for $15,0000 of tuition to what you get for $1000 or nothing.”
    Baila, I’m sorry your daughters are having a tough time. I’m sure it’s not easy to have to grow a thicker “Israeli” skin in such a short time.

  12. “I just hope my grandchildren don’t take the new olim’s seat away.”
    Well, when they do, you’ll know they won’t be new olim anymore!
    I agree, you can’t really compare israeli and american education, because there’s the whole culture that goes with each ie: the really strong youth movement culture here, which barely exists in the States.
    I really wish your girls lots of hatzlacha and fortitude. I’m sure next year will be a lot easier!

  13. I believe that parents can instill their own values in their children. But it is difficult to always be swimming against the current. Anyway, it is important to distinguish between really major things like endangering a child through neglect and more minor infractions like a snack of junk food. And, as Mom in Israel implied, there is a bit of change in perspective over time. When I had just 2 or 3 little ones, they did not get candy type sanacks. But when they got older, saw more of what was available, and the baby sister also wanted it. And so it goes. I do buy them snack bags, but I also keep fresh fruit and vegetables they like to eat on hand. And the older ones do read nutrition labels to choose the snack with less fat.

Trackbacks

  1. […] them the confidence to withstand negative social pressure. More posts on acclimating to aliyah: Raising Kids Where Neglect Is “Normal“ Share this:FacebookStumbleUponEmailSharePrintHello there! If you are new here, you might […]

%d bloggers like this: