How to absolutely guarantee your daughter will hate her high school
(Written by someone who has recently been in high school.)
So many parents struggle to understand where their teens are really coming from in 2018. To try and bridge that divide, we’ve asked teen writer Hadas Bat-El to try to tackle some of the key subjects where there’s often a miscommunication between teens and their parents.
In her first piece for Sasson, Hadas Bat-el tries to explain how parental attitudes towards their children’s school and teachers can often cause some profoundly challenging – and unexpected – consequences.
1. Always disagree with the school’s rules.
Tell your child that the rules are wrong, and the high school is definitely misguided / insane / or must have asked a different posek (if they even asked), and that you hold the halachos of tzniyus differently.
2. Never try talking to your child’s school about their rules.
Never ask the school administration to clarify what the school meant by a certain letter or rule. Never call a teacher if you daughter heard something disturbing in class, to clarify what the teacher actually meant. If you do talk to the teachers, always imply that they are wrong and you are not obligated to follow their rules.
3. Never ask the school to update their school rules to include more explanation of where they are coming from.
Don’t ask the school to explain which of their rules are *only* school rules, what is halacha, and what is hashakfa. This particularly applies to the rules of tzniyus, which should be made super-confusing and unclear in the pamphlet they give out and make you sign.
4. Openly diss the really strict teacher.
You know that one really strict teacher? The one who doesn’t understand today’s teens and likes to use questionable teaching methods to give over hashkafa? (The one who told your child that her skirt was the reason this generation hasn’t been zoche to rebuild the third Beis Hamikdash.) Yeah, her…she definitely represents the entire school administration and the whole spectrum of frum ideology of today. Make sure your daughter knows that.
5. Never talk to your child’s school.
(This is an extension of Rule #2).
Don’t talk to any of the people who teach in your kid’s school. Make sure you have no idea what values they are teaching, or how they are teaching it. If chas v’shalom you still happen to find out, don’t panic. Just make sure that you are teaching completely different values and that you disagree with the majority of their hashkafa.
6. Regularly encourage your child to go ahead and break the school rules.
There are a few ways you can do this, here are some of the most effective options.
A. This rule is only a formality, and nobody actually takes it seriously except the good girl in the class who buttons her shirt up to her neck.
B. Tell her the rule is wrong and that your posek said it’s OK. (Or vice-versa).
C. Tell her that not only is the rule itself wrong, the teacher and school are also wrong for trying to enforce it.
D. Come up with some ridiculous reason why it’s OK to break it, like: “We won’t meet anyone we know in Hawaii”.
If you say this often enough about a number of different rules, you’ll also get the bonus of completely confusing your daughter about which rules are actually important, which rules aren’t, and what the halacha actually is.
7. Speak negatively about the school.
Regularly Bad-mouth their hashkafa, the teachers, their ideas.
8. Make every molehill into a mountain.
If your child tells you that she heard or experienced something in school that you don’t feel is right, please don’t do any of the following things:
a) Validate her feelings, but without claiming that they are the objective reality.
Don’t tell her: “That must have been hurtful and hard, I bet you’re really angry”, or: “That must be confusing to hear. It seems like that sentence/hashkafa/concept doesn’t sit well with you”
b) Judge the teacher favorably.
Don’t tell her: “Perhaps the teacher made a mistake, perhaps she had a bad day, perhaps she has a certain mindset or hashkafa that doesn’t really work for you”.
Instead you can say: “Wow, that teacher is really crazy. She’s totally wrong”.
Also, try to make sure that your child loses all respect for their school and teachers.
c) Definitely don’t suggest the child talk it over with a Rabbi or teacher they respect to try to get some clarity, if you can’t help them yourself.
Your kid needs you to be on the same page as her school
You don’t have to agree with every single rule they give, but you have to agree with the majority of them, and respect the rest of them. There’s always going to be people you don’t agree with and things you don’t understand. Although it’s easier to just slam the school when your daughter is hurt, and transfer her pain onto them- that’s just an easy way out. Your daughter is hurt, she doesn’t want you to make it magically go away or just get it channeled onto someone, she wants you to acknowledge her pain and work with it.
It’s important to sit down with your daughter and sift through her thoughts and feelings, calmly, like the adult human being that you actually are. What your daughter wants is you to listen, care for, and nurture HER. Give her clarity.
If it’s not your approach or haskafah it’s not necessarily wrong. Different isn’t wrong and bad. High school is a great opportunity to teach your child to become more resilient and tolerant of other people and their opinions. It should teach her how to ask questions when she needs to, and how to get clarity on her own. It should teach her that different people, opinions, and hashkafos exist, and that interacting with them can be a beautiful experience.
Of course, parts of that experience can also be painful. Don’t minimize the pain, but don’t try to get rid of it by turning it into another feeling like anger or distress. Acknowledge it.
As a teen myself, I often hear many high school horror stories of things going wrong on both or either end. is what it’s like for a daughter when her parents and high school aren’t on the same page:
“I feel stuck between my school and my family. Both of them say the other is wrong, and that their hashkafos are chumros and unnecessary. I don’t know what to think. Someone must be lying or manipulating me because both can’t be right if they disagree so much. Who am I supposed to trust? On the other hand, I don’t understand all these rules, and ideas. No one is willing to explain. I can’t be angry at myself, I can’t think my parents are wrong, so I must be angry at the school. But some of the teachers are so nice, so then it must be society or Hashem that’s wrong.
“It’s safer to be angry at concepts I don’t understand. I don’t understand what the proper derech is when everyone says something different. How can it be things are muttar at home and assur in school or vice-versa? They think they explain but they don’t, they just tell me what to do and what to see, but no one bridges the gap between the two.
“Either I get told off at home or in school. I feel so bad about myself, I can never do anything ….”
I think one of the key aspects here is respect. Everyone deserves to be treated and looked at respectfully. This means the school, their rules, their teachers, administration, yourself, your spouse, and especially your daughter. Your daughter is a human being with so many feelings and thoughts, and those need to be acknowledged and dealt with through respect. Not through anger, pain, frustration, feelings of disconnection, or anything else.
Tolerance, respect, love, and boundaries, those are the main things a teen needs. The question is, how to retain the balance of all of those things. That’s what I’m hoping to share with you by addressing some of the main issues affecting teens today.