You Let Your Kids Do WHAT?

You Let Your Kids Do WHAT?

20/20 featured a shocking episode this past Friday called “You Let Your Kids Do WHAT?” This show includes a Las Vegas Billionaire who bribes her teenage daughter to bring home straight A’s with trips to Morocco and $20,000 shopping sprees. A couple that is raising their sons on a Florida nudist colony. And a couple who bought their 7-year-old son a $50,000 monster truck that he rides as the youngest participant on the hyper-dangerous monster truck circuit.

The weird thing is that when these parents discuss their problematic parenting decisions they almost sound reasonable. The Las Vegas billionaire says that her daughter is very well-behaved and is an excellent student, so what’s the problem with using a wildly expensive carrot if it brings in such great results? The nudist parents say that they are instilling positive values, and insist, “As far as body image, the kids are seeing all different kinds of people, and they’re seeing that people can be different. There is less judgment.” The monster-truck purchasing parents insist, “Not to say that there’s not going to be some [dangerous] incident at some time, but there are incidents in sports all the time…It’s more likely that he’s going to hurt himself on a little scooter than on this [truck] any day.”

So what was I thinking when I watched the interviews with these well-intentioned parents who are making such profoundly irresponsible parenting decisions?

I was reminded of what my husband always responds when I inform him about some new crazy trend or phenomenon in the world. He always says, “WWW,” which is Weisberg shorthand for “World Without Wisdom.”

I’ll be the first to admit that we observant JewishMOMs aren’t perfect. We make a lot of mistakes, just like all parents do all over the world. But what keeps us on track is that we, unlike most people today, have access to WISDOM, an approach to life that has proven successful over the course of thousands of years. And it is this momentum of rabbinic wisdom and tradition and time-proven common sense that keeps us on track no matter what crazy new ideas pop into our heads from time to time…

Million-Dollar Bat Mitzvah Mom
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Nudist Camp Family (FOR WOMEN ONLY)
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Monster-Truck-Driving Child
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  1. I really like that you added a piece at the topic with a full treatment of your perspective on the videos. The blog was missing your personal touch lately. Thank you.

  2. I’m very confused with the choices to click on for video clips. How does it help me watch anything? What do I do?

  3. Alex isn’t doing so well.

    Bud is doing much better.

    Not just saying this because Bud chooses not to be a nudist.

    Alex seems not up to nine-year-old level in the way he talks, moves, expresses himself.

    Just curious… what does it take to thrill these people?

  4. ה’ ישמור! But aren’t we all conditioning our children in a way or another? (just think of טבלאות עיצוב התנהגות in school etc.) I believe our real work as Jewish parents is to grow our beloved kids as aware of their choices and their responsability to their deeds, regardless of what they will receive in return. to serve ה’ just for the purpose of it – may we all be זוכים.

  5. This was a very thought provoking post. You wrote at the end:

    “But what keeps us on track is that we, unlike most people today, have access to WISDOM, an approach to life that has proven successful over the course of thousands of years. And it is this momentum of rabbinic wisdom and tradition and time-proven common sense…”

    I would like to add here that it is not mere wisdom or common sense, but TORAH you are talking about. This is Divine wisdom, another being entirely. Our teachings, as passed down, yes, from Sinai by our sages to our revered Rabbis and that have become our “common” Jewish sense, come from G-d himself. IF Torah were not Divine, we would not have any more “wisdom” than those parents other than the subjective “it’s not for me, thanks!”.

    One more thing, even when not “proven successful”, that does not make Torah any less Divine, or any less true (as we see today when confronted with “frum” criminals etc….)

  6. For me the nudists were the most disturbing for safety and mental health. Knowing the rampant child porn and child sexual abuse that goes on world wide, the potential for people to exploit and use these children sexually is astronomical. You don’t know who is looking at your child in an improper way while your child is totally exposed and at everyone’s mercy.
    I felt heartbroken for all of them and reminds me of the great necessity to actively be a light to the nations.

  7. I also feel bad for the child who gets the gifts. The love seems so conditional. A mother should be an “A” mother to all children. What would happen if a child were to be disabled? Do they deserve a disabled upbringing?

    The Little People video was very inspiring, though!

  8. Rishe – Alex is clearly developmentally delayed, possibly on the spectrum. Notice his difficulty with eye contact, the non-typical gait. Nothing to do with living in the nudist colony. Also the way he rips his clothes off when he gets back from the library trip is indicative of a child with sensory issues.

    • Leah–maybe that was a factor in choosing their lifestyle. Odd byt true–when we decided to become observant I had SERIOUS qualms about how it would work. My daughter has severe SPD (sensory processing disorder) and wear as little clothing as she can get away with b/c of how painful it feels to her. I finally found a group of friends within a community which not only supported us, but also is very understanding. On Shabbos when everyone else is in their Shabbos best and my daughter is wearing a dirty ripped skirt, people are nice about it 🙂

  9. The parents with the kid on the bull (and the monster truck), all seem to be missing the concept that they CAN say no to their kids. It reflects the sad state of parenting today.

  10. Hadassah

    The mother with the million dollar bas mitzvah is motivating her child but is not teaching her anything about sharing, the value of money, and being of use to others. Even if a person has great wealth there are ways of life that are not ostentatious and in your face rich. No wonder she needs a body guard, with that kind of money flying around she could be kidnapped just for the ransom!

  11. ה’ ‘רחם! These poor children!

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