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Commentary

Commentary by Dr. Ursula A. Falk

 

A Promise Forgotten

 

There is an old German Jewish saying  that a child promised his mother:  "Liebe Mama glaub es mir, wenn ich gross bin helf ich dir.  Dann kannst du im Sessel ruhen und ich wer die Arbeit tun." (Dear Mom, believe me when I grow up I will help you.  Then you can rest in the easy chair because I will do the work that is needed.) This is a very comforting promise that the uninitiated person believed and looked forward to with comfort.

Today's Jewish American parent looks forward for the “wonderful” Jewish child that she will produce.  It will be beautiful, brilliant, and loving.  It will adore his/her parent and will do all the suggestions that the Mom or Dad make.  They know all the answers and will feel convinced that the parent is “perfect.  The child as he grows will do what Mama or Papa suggest.

Reality begins at age two when the little darling has his/her mind and screams and opposes what is suggested.  As he enters school and grows to a teenager, he wants to wear the same clothes as other classmates.  He wants to imitate the guy or girl that stands out, either for good or bad.  Perhaps he (the he or she  is used for both genders) wants to go without socks or wear a piece of clothing that is “different” – perhaps torn at one of the legs, or for a girl, a blouse that exhibits her growing bosom or other parts of the human body, with interesting garments.  She might dye her black hair half blond or red to attract attention.  What Mama wants no longer counts.   She has a mind of her own and desires to “look” sexy or unique. Boys like to exhibit their muscles and wear shirts or other devices to call attention to themselves.

Both teenage male and females frequently want to imitate their classmates in order to fit into the group in which they live or admire.  Frequently those that are rejected will find garments that call attention to themselves, or hair that is very different from their peers, either in color, haircuts, or otherwise.

Instead of attempting to please their parents, they ignore what the parents have taught them or want.  They have forgotten the promise to help.  As teens, they attempt to fit into their peers' opinions or looks.  Obeying their parents is infantile and they want to show that they are no longer “infants.  What parents say or want means nothing to them; it is “old fashioned” and repugnant.

As they become older, they follow their “needs” as they see it.  Helping parents is out of the question.  If they do have some chores at home, they want to be paid.  The angry offspring insists that he did not ask to be born.  Often the Jewish child will marry out of his religion and becomes very hostile when his adoring mom or dad do not open their arms to a “goy” (gentile).  They will accuse their suffering parent of being prejudiced, old fashioned, and overbearing.  Unfortunately they have no feeling that they hurt  their parents and their responsibility as Jews. They believe that if their family cannot accept their deed, the parents are not worthy of their “wonderful” wife.  They frequently choose a wife who is of the Asian race. They are “right” and the parents do not deserve to be “parents,” nor will they accept any responsibility toward their parents who raised, supported, and loved them.  They take no responsibility for their actions.

As the beleaguered, sad, disappointed parents of the character disordered adult son or daughter, remember you did not created the problem that hurts you so much.  As the victim, please do not hold yourself responsible for the narcissistic individual thus described.  He will not help you or behave  as the Jewish being to whom  you gave your caring, adoration, and love.

 Lehitraot.

 Dr. Ursula A. Falk is a psychotherapist in private practice and the author of several books and articles.

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