Raising a teenager is difficult; your Jewish values can help make it easier.
Relationships with teenage children can be maddening and frustrating. They undergo the most peculiar transition from children you think you know into mysterious adolescent strangers you often wish you didn’t.
Drawing upon the teachings, insights, and wisdom that have sustained the Jewish people throughout the generations, this groundbreaking and invaluable guidebook will help you navigate the tumultuous journey of parenting a Jewish child into adulthood while asking—and answering—important questions, including: How is my Jewish teen’s life different from my life when I was a teen? How do I cope with the pain of separation as my child enters the teenage years? What are the causes of the conflict between me and my teen, and how can I help our family move through our most difficult moments? How must my own behavior change as my teen grows older? Is it possible to live with differences in Jewish belief and observance within the same family during my child’s teenage years? What are the unique challenges of parenting Jewish teens in special situations, such as an interfaith home; a special-needs teen; an adopted teen; or a teen who is engaged in risky or self-destructive behaviors?
A good word for the disorientation many parents feel during their children's teenage years is "perplexed." In a twist on the title of Maimonides's 12th-century philosophical tome The Guide for the Perplexed, Doades offers a compassionate parenting manual that aims Judaism's messages at the "tumultuous, challenging and chaotic" teen years. "Parenting Jewish teens today is about finding something to hang onto (Judaism works) as you try to hang onto your kids (don't give up, no matter what they look, smell or act like)," she writes. Contemporary society, plagued by a decline in communal connectedness, compounds the hormonal upheaval by providing few consequences for behavior and popularizing a culture that denigrates authority, she says. Judaism's enduring values will not only serve them in good stead, providing tools to evaluate their choices, but will comfort and direct parents in maintaining dignity, sanity and family relationships. In a sympathetic parent-to-parent tone, Doades explores issues of separation, culture, conflict, family relationships, changing parental roles, interfaith dilemmas and special-needs situations, with examples from the Bible and Jewish literature. She urges parents to start Jewish teen parenting groups, and concludes that despite the normal teenage need for separation, parents must echo the Bible's message, Hineini, "Here I am."