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By: Tammy Sassoon, M.s.ed

Dear Struggling Mother of 5,

What you are describing is simply a manifestation of raising children in American culture. We MUST recognize that very much of American culture directly contradicts of our ancient Jewish values. Let me offer you a few examples. American media boasts a “sit back and relax” attitude as something to strive for. While there is definitely a time to “sit back and relax” to rejuvenate oneself, this is not our ultimate goal. As Jews, for thousands of years our ancestors have had an attitude of “work hard and be a giver.” It is no wonder that people were much happier when they were working hard. We live in a generation which is the first of its kind, where we can have almost anything done for us within seconds by touching a screen. It takes out the old fashioned joys of “working hard and being givers.” Human beings were created to actually feel more fulfilled when they give, not when they get. That will never change.

So what is happening to your children, as well as to so many others, is that they grow up thinking that easiness is good, and hard work is bad. By the time they are about 2 years old, they already have a terrible sense of entitlement. Therefore it is important for us to tell our children that NOBODY OWES THEM ANYTHING! Remember, in America you are “entitled” to many things. Freedom of speech (even if it’s hurtful), and the ability to return just about anything and everything to Amazon with no explanation at all are just a few “entitlements” in American culture. Our job is to teach our children that we came to this world to work and give. Working and giving are exciting! Working and giving are things that emotionally healthy people are able to do, and we should strive to do both!

A second reason why it’s so hard for children to be happy is because we live in a country where indulging children is encouraged. It is thought that “good parents” give their children a lot of things. This couldn’t be further from the truth. A parent’s job is to provide unconditional love, but not unlimited objects. Children simply have too many things today, so it is hard for them to be grateful. When we were growing up pizza was reserved for birthday parties. Now I’ve heard kids say, “Ugh” when they hear they are having pizza. Well, it is “ugh” in light of kids being indulged with sushi and all sorts of ready-made gourmet food so often. People in our country have so much, and yet are so poor. These two things: being a giver and being happy with small things are what can move our children towards true happiness. Practically speaking, I will offer you the following four tips:

Dear Tammy,

I have 5 children between the ages of 3 and 17, and I feel like every one of them complains very often. I am starting to feel like maybe I am doing something wrong because no matter what I give them or do for them, they find something to be unhappy about. Can you please guide me on this?


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If you are a frustrated mom or dad looking for answers to a specific problem at home, or want to
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editor@communitym.com.Tammy will suggest new and effective parenting strategies that actually work!

Show your children that you are passionate about working hard. Give of yourself, your time, and your money, and always with a smile. (If you feel you don’t have much to give, perhaps you have taken on too many responsibilities, and you should consider
cutting back.)

Talk to your children often about the dichotomy between the American value system and the Jewish one, which offers a truly
happy life.

Do not indulge your children. Encourage them to interact with the types of children and families who are satisfied with their lot in life.

Teach them that being happy is not something that happens to you, it’s a choice you make that comes from having a “hard worker” mentality, i.e. I will choose to be grateful for what
I have.