On obligations

My husband and I have had the same discussion for the last two weeks as we got within a block or two of our house on shabbat morning as we were returning from services. It started as we were talking about a problem that we have here in Modi’in.

It is not unusual to hear teens in the parks, on the streets, talking loudly at 12, 1, 2, 3, and even 4 a.m. These same teens have burnt a wooden bridge in one of the parks several times, destroyed park benches, broken beer bottles, and torn up play equipment. The answer many if not most people have to the problem is more teen clubs, more sports halls open because the poor little children are bored and have nothing to do other than wreak havoc on our city leaving wailing babies they have woken in their wake.

To me it seems clear that the problem is not boredom (I don’t yell, scream, and destroy public property when I am bored). Neither is it the lack of places to congregate (as kids when we wanted to be with our friends, we usually would go to the house of one of the group where we coincidentally had chaperones, their parents). The problem, it seems to me, is that their parents have abdicated their responsibilities. Where do the parents think their children are night after night? These are children between the ages of 14 and 18. They have school in the morning. They need sleep so that they won’t be irritable and so that they are able to concentrate and learn.

Parents counter “everybody’s doing it.” Wrong answer. For a lot of reasons, we had to raise our children as different from the norm. And we did. We felt it was our job to give the children our values. We thought it was our job to keep our children safe. What we didn’t think was that other parents or kids on the neighborhood should have veto power over the decisions that we made to educate and protect our children.

We think that our commitment to standing for what we think is important came from the obligation we feel toward generations past and their values, wishes, and dreams for us. After all, we are standing on the shoulders of giants– people who lived difficult lives and sacrificed for their children’s well being, for their education… and we both have felt the obligation to raise our children and to live our lives in the way that would please those who came before us.

So we take responsibility for ourselves and our actions and for trying to educate and protect our children and grandchildren– and we hope that others will do the same.

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