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Back to School - What's Today's Trend?

Has anything like this ever happened in your home?

Mom asks child to unload the dishwasher. Disgruntled child stomps over to the dishwasher, yanks out plates and slams them on the shelf. A plate breaks. Child turns to mom and says, “Don’t blame me! I’m just doing what you told me!”

Well, in a limited sense, yes, but actually, of course not. It turns out that what you do isn’t enough, it makes a difference how you do it.

Parshas Shoftim (Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9) introduces a commandment, (at certain times and under specific circumstances), to anoint a Jewish king over the people of Israel.

Strangely enough, a few hundred years later when the Jewish people approached the prophet Samuel and requested a king, he responded in anger, rebuking them for their inappropriate request.

What did they do wrong? Just as the child in our scenario, the Jewish people could retort to Samuel, “Don’t blame us! We’re doing what we were told to do!” The problem is that doing what one is told to do isn’t enough. It wasn’t the child’s unloading of the dishwasher that broke a plate, their angry attitude was responsible. Similarly, although the Jewish nation was supposed to request a king, their attitude fell far short of the one Moses had in mind in Deuteronomy. It isn’t enough to follow Nike and Just Do It, we also must make sure we are acting with the right intentions and attitudes.

The Ramban (Spanish Torah scholar in the 1200’s, also known as Nachmonides) teaches that the mistake the people made when requesting a king in the book of Samuel was with the words, “Like all other nations”. (Jewish tradition teaches that although Moses said similar words in Deuteronomy, they were a prophetic hint to what would happen instead of commanding what should happen.) The nation’s request for a king seems identical to what was commanded in Parshas Shoftim, but their attitude was fundamentally different. The Jewish people should have requested a king because it was the right time for them to fulfill their Torah obligation of anointing a king, not because other nations had kings.

As we head into a new school year, parents can be sure that our children will come home requesting the latest fad or accessory, (Fidget spinner? Beanie baby? Who knows?). While peer pressure is a real force, our children need to learn from us that doing anything just because others do it is not a recipe for success. Perhaps it really will be beneficial for our child to have today’s trending item. There can be many valid reasons why it is important for them. Our job is to make sure we are evaluating each decision from the standpoint of, “What is right for my child?” instead of “What does everyone else have or do?”

It can be very difficult for our children to assimilate this concept, and before we ask it of them, we must make sure we are modeling the right attitude. Do our children see us thinking carefully before making purchases? Do they see us making choices that reflect our values or are we obsessed with keeping up with the Joneses? This attitude can’t begin once our children are in school and susceptible to tremendous peer pressure. The strength to make decisions for the right reasons and with the right attitudes must be an integral part of our home and family before we expect our children to act accordingly.

Yes, Samuel was supposed to anoint a King over Israel, but not because everyone else had one, rather because it was the next right step at that point in history. As parents, the leaders of our families, we too must make sure we develop the habit of conscious decision making that reflects our goals and values, not just the latest trends.


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This course has already changed the way I parent and I'm only halfway through it! With four, young rambunctious boys I found myself sounding like a drill sergeant, not the warm, loving mother I'd hoped to be. This course has given me some easy to implement tools that have already helped me change my behaviors with my children which resulted in them listening the first time when I ask something. This is a course you will listen to over and over and get more out of it each time. This was an incredible investment in me as a parent and my children will reap the benefits. Do yourself a favor and listen now.

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