Time is Money
This is a must-see video clip. The Rabbi who insisted that I view it (Rabbi Ezriel Munk, of TorahLinks in New Jersey) said that his phone was ringing off the hook afterwards; students of his, people learning more about Judaism for the first time, were anxious to understand how we, the Torah community, prevent and/or address this problem.
The biggest answer we have, in his words: Shabbos. This is very true, at least in my eyes, but your opinions are welcomed in the comments.
Shabbos is a potential answer, but not in the imaginary scenario presented in this excellent video. If you’ll allow me to extrapolate…
Since it’s clearly a frum family portrayed in the video they already have Shabbos and yet the boy is still not getting enough of his father’s time. The father, working himself ragged during the week, is exhausted by the time Shabbos rolls around. They have a perfunctory Shabbos dinner where he might even ask the kid to say over his canned d’var torah from school. Then the father collapses on the couch and makes his way up to bed somewhere around 2:00 am. In the morning the father goes to shul. They have a family over for lunch. The adults talk about “adult” things while the kids run off and play. After lunch the father takes a long Shabbos nap, wakes up for Mincha and daf yomi. Moments after havdalah he’s on the computer dealing with the coming week’s business deals.
The video is about priorities. If you’re priorities aren’t straight then Shabbos isn’t going to be much help.
Godol Hador & Jameel beat you by a couple weeks on this. 🙂 But yes, excellent/important video.
The video definitely has a strong and powerfull point. However the lesson it teaches
is not a problem of today’s day and age. If anything the problem today is that
there is too much attention given to the children and that so much is run around the child,
parents are so afraid of what g-d forbid they might do etc, that the kid himself feels
he has a power over his parents. A little dose of ‘days gone by’ where parents acted
and therefore were perceived as being a parent in the relationship as opposed to an ‘equal’
would help todays’ generation.
It’s also possible that parents spoil their children because they want the few minutes they do get to spend with them to be enjoyable to the child. I suspect you’ll find a lot less spoiling in families where the kid gets more parents time.
True. I also think that it’s the quality of the time. ie in the video – the father is short tempered with his son and pretty much hangs up the phone on him. If he would speak kindly and patiently to him (as he did realizing his mistake after the spilled cup) the child would feel he has his father’s attention if not so much of his time.
True. It’s a matter of both quantity and quality. Of course, speaking kindly and patiently to children takes longer. It also encourages them to speak to you more, which again means more of a time commitment.
Having kids is a big responsibility. My boss knows that what I do in the office is just a paid hobby. My real job is the three year old and the eight month old. She accepts that. If she didn’t, eventually I’d find another job, and she’d have to do without my services.
I really agree with Menachem Lipkin’s scenario of what goes on in so many homes, which is obviously the problem that this is trying to address. The answer isn’t “Shabbos” as in, we have Shabbos so we don’t have this problem that the secular world does. The real answer is, make sure you’re actually keeping Shabbos, not just the technicalities but the real meaning of the day. And that includes not always having so many guests that your kids don’t get to feel a part of the Shabbos day. I have been a guest many times in homes where lunch was the exact scene he describes – the kids wander away from the table, the adults are talking for way too long, then nap time and Aba disappears to shul. In one case it was the rabbi of the shul we used to attend, and at least one of his children is no longer involved in frum life.
Perhaps this is an issue of priorities. As we have seen so often in our community, the influence of
of outside culture has penetrated and even pervaded our’s. The lifestyle of keeping up with the
Jones’s mandates that many men work themselves ragged. Perhaps if our priorities were straight
and the father realized that fathering is a priority he might be able to spend more time with hi
his son. Planning for this can go back to the carreer planning stage when someone decides how
they will do their hishtadlus for parnossoh they should take into account the work schedule that
is normal for certain professions.
of course those who made the video do not address the massive economic lachatz that most orthodox jews are under–between the tens of thousand in tuition, and the 1000’s of tzedaka demands/ meshulachim, there is an infinite need for $$$$— and even those who live a tora-only lifestyle [ ie learning not working], it is often overworked suckers like this one that are asked to foot the bill……
Maybe it would be better to spend less on Meshulachim, have less full time scholars, and have less economic pressure on the rest of the Orthodox.
Some problems have been around a long time and are not unique to Charedim. A similar problem was described in this Golden Oldie,
by W. Livingston Larned
Originally published in 1927 in The People’s Home Journal, as condensed in Reader’s Digest:
Listen, son: I am saying this as you lie asleep, one little paw crumpled under your cheek and blond curls stickily wet on your damp forehead. I have stolen into your room alone. Just a few minutes ago, as I sat reading my paper in the library, a stifling wave of remorse swept over me. Guiltily I came to your bedside.
These are the things I was thinking, son: I had been cross to you. I scolded you as you were dressing for school because you gave your face merely a dab with a towel. I took you to task for not cleaning your shoes. I called out angrily when you threw some of your things on the floor.
At breakfast I found fault, too. You spilled things. You gulped down your food. You put your elbows on the table. You spread butter too thick on your bread. And as you started off to play and I made for my train, you turned and waved a hand and called, “Good-bye, Daddy!” and I frowned, and said in reply, “Hold your shoulders back!”
Then it began all over again in the late afternoon. As I came up the road I spied you, down on your knees, playing marbles. There were holes in your socks. I humiliated you before your friends by marching you ahead of me to the house. Socks were expensive, and if you had to buy them you would be more careful! Imagine that, son, from a father!
Do you remember, later, when I was reading in the library, how you came in, timidly, with a sort of hurt look in your eyes? When I glanced up over my paper, impatient at the interruption, you hesitated at the door. “What is it you want?” I snapped.
You said nothing, but ran across in one tempestuous plunge, and threw your arms around my neck and kissed me, and your small arms tightened with an affection that God had set blooming in your heart and which even neglect could not wither…and then you were gone, pattering up the stairs.
Well, son, it was shortly afterwards that my paper slipped from my hands and a terrible sickening fear came over me. What has habit been doing to me? The habit of finding fault, reprimanding–this was my reward to you for being a boy. It was not that I did not love you; it was that I expected too much of youth. It was measuring you by the yardstick of my own years.
And there was so much that was good and fine and true in your character. The little heart of yours was as big as the dawn itself over the wide hills. This was shown by your spontaneous impulse to rush in and kiss me goodnight. Nothing else matters tonight, son. I have come to your bedside in the darkness, and I have knelt here, ashamed!
It is a feeble atonement; I know you would not understand these things if I told them to you during your waking hours. But tomorrow I will be a real daddy. I will chum with you, suffer when you suffer, and laugh when you laugh. I will bite my tongue when impatient words come. I will keep saying as if it were a ritual, “He is nothing but a boy, a little boy!”
I am afraid I have visualized you as a man. Yet as I see you now, son, crumpled and weary in your bed, I see that you are still a little boy. Yesterday you were in your mother’s arms, your head on her shoulder. I have asked too much, too much.
The misleading part of the video is that it implies that it is davka the “working” father who has no time.There are way too many stories of fathers (and mothers) who are so involved in “tzorchei tzibbur” that their own family gets neglected. The proverbial shoemakers kids go barefooted
The Cat’s in the Cradle with a silver spoon, little boy grew into the man in the moon.
When you coming home dad? I don’t know when. But we’ll get together then son. You know we’ll have a good time then.
You never know what images, ideas, songs, stories or moments will have an impact on your kids. I generally can’t remember songs, but an old Harry Chapin song “cat’s in the cradle” stuck in my head since I was a kid. You gotta make time for your kids. My dad was always there for me. He was my coach. He was my mentor. He was my dad. I do my best to make time for my boys. I take my boys to the “Pizza Bais Midrash” and father son learning. When my son wants me to listen to him read over his Mishna or Psukim its so easy to just tell him to read it himself. But if you don’t make time and effort to treat his life as important now, how are you going to have any connection to him when he’s grown. The video is such a powerful reminder to treat his life as important.
I paid my son to watch the video.
Obviously, Shabbos can be a source for either reinforcing Torah etc or it can be pure hell, depending on how one uses one’s
time. If you use the Shabbos table properly ( like a an altar bringing karbanos with the proper intention0, then a meal that is
punctuated with Zmiros and Divrei Torah and in which parents spend quality time learning with their children and listening to
what they have to ask, etc in a sense of completely open communication, then Shabbos is the ultimate means of inculcating
Emunah and Hashkafa. OTOH, if Shabbos is primarily sleep punctuated by an appearance in shul with meals devoted to lashon hara,
etc, Shabbos will display all of an adult’s failings in front of an inquisitive child and possibly lead to a kid being turned’
off in the worst possible manner.
Kids need your quiet time, your patience, your calm time. Coincidentally, I was writing about that around the same time you were writing this. See http://mirty12.blogspot.com/2006/02/why-i-am-26-minutes-late-to-work.html.