Our Beit Midrash is hosting a panel discussion tonight on "On, Off and After the Derech: When Religion and Family Collide", with a local synagogue rabbi and a child-and-adolescent psychiatrist who is also an ordained rabbi.
[Update: The audio is now available here; the video should be available soon here.]
What are your thoughts on the following scenarios:
1. A couple after twenty years of marriage decide to become observant fairly rapidly. They have three children, a son age 17, a daughter age 15 and a son age 10. They put their children into observant Orthodox private schools, with tutors to help them catch up.
The 10-year-old takes to the change easily.
The 15-year-old has some bumps, but after effort seems to acclimate well.
The oldest, 17, is unwilling to switch schools, friends or change his lifestyle. He is somewhat willing to live within the home in an Orthodox lifestyle, but in his personal life, school and life goals he is not interested and occasionally defiant.
How should the parents help their 17-year-old, in terms of his own situation and his impact on the family?
2. An observant family has a child with learning issues, which influence personality and socialization. It is difficult for her to appropriately conform to the policies of Orthodox schools, from style of clothing to social activities. The child’s learning issues are not being addressing to the extent needed by the Orthodox school system, but are available in the public system. Further, the challenge of handling the school's policies is affecting the child’s self-image and self-respect, and she appears to be drifting away from observance.
What should the parents do to give their child an education and keep her on the path of Torah observance?
3. A family with several children finds that one of them, age 15, does not want to keep an observant lifestyle. The parents cannot determine the cause. The parents respond angrily, the siblings often fight with him, the child is becoming more sullen and distant. What can be done?
4. After 15 years of marriage, a couple with a ten-year old daughter divorces and one of the two becomes Torah-observant. Custody is shared, and the observant parent wishes to raise the chld in an observant setting, while the other parent does not agree. The child experiences drastically different lifestyles, messages, ethics and basic rules of conduct with the different parents. Leaving aside matters of family law, the observant parent is concerned that the child’s mixed messages will actually cause her to drift further away from Torah. What should be done?