The 5 Towns Jewish Times

Yid Parenting: Resenting Shabbos

By Rabbi Yitzie Ross

Question: We have what I like to consider a normal Jewish home. However, my kids really resent Shabbos, and it has become a depressing day. My kids (ages 7 through 14) want to “dress down” and hang out with friends. My oldest son is the worst of them all; I’m actually really worried about him. He hates the meals and everything Shabbos-related. Is there anything I can do?

Anonymous
Cedarhurst

Answer: Ouch. Just reading your question hurt me. The short answer is, yes, there are things you can do. However, it’s not a quick solution.

If you look at Shabbos from a kid’s perspective, it can be overwhelming. They watch their parents using their phones and other devices day and night, and can’t understand why everything has to be turned off. It also means sitting with their siblings for a long meal (possibly with guests), a much longer davening, and no electronics.

One of the hardest parts about your question was the fact that your oldest son seems to be having a negative influence on the younger ones. That can be frustrating. As one mother put it: “I love my oldest son with all of my heart, but sometimes I just want to . . .” The good news is, you can do things to make Shabbos more exciting.

I heard from my rav that Shabbos is a mirror of your soul — it reflects back what you invest in it. Do you and your husband enjoy Shabbos? It’ll be pretty hard for you to get your kids to love Shabbos if you aren’t excited about it yourself. So, what’s amazing about Shabbos?

Incidentally, these are the very things that many children dislike about Shabbos. As they grow older, get married, and begin working, they will appreciate Shabbos a whole lot more. Since you mentioned that your oldest child is 14, I’m guessing that getting him married now is not an option. Let’s look at some things that might show him how awesome and special Shabbos really is.

Please understand that every family is different. What works well with you might not work with your friend, and vice versa. I wouldn’t follow all the items listed below in one week; it’s trial and error.

Remember that Shabbos is not supposed to be a battle. Basically, it’s all about making Shabbos great again. With love, a big smile, and loads of patience, you will iy’H begin to see results.

Hatzlachah — and have a great Shabbos!

Rabbi Yitzie Ross is a well-known rebbe and parenting adviser. To sign up for the weekly emails and read the comments, visit YidParenting.com.