FFB Children of BTs: The Inside Scoop

FFB Children of BTs: The Inside Scoop
When I noticed that Family First’s Shavuot issue featured an article about BT parents and their FFB kids, of course I tore off the plastic right away to read it. Cause, well, welcome to my life!
Some of the quotations in the article by Rivki Silver from the adult children of baalei teshuva rang a bell from my kids.
The kids (like mine) had some positive things to say:
“I think there’s a real, raw beauty of coming from a place where you don’t know the Torah, you don’t know about Hashem, you don’t know about Judaism, and you choose it. My mother was all in, and she showed us.”
“Having baalei teshuva as parents made me much more accepting. I’m a firm believer in the ladder theory of spiritual growth. Everyone is on their own rung of the ladder, and their own growth story. You can’t judge someone for where they are at that point on their ladder.”
“Because of my parents’ interesting background, I was more of a free spirit.”
There were also some cons to having parents who were relative newcomers to the Orthodox world, which also sounded very familiar from my family:
“A lot of baalei teshuva are still finding their way hashkafically as they’re raising their family, which can get complicated…It’s a hodgepodge, and sometimes that’s a little confusing for a kid.”
Others respondents said it was hard growing up with only a few cousins, or none at all.
This reminded me how my daughter used to tell me, with a mixture of awe and bemusement, how a classmate would be spending Pesach with “all the cousins.” But of course, they couldn’t fit in a single house, so they were renting a hall. At the time my daughter only had three cousins (the number has since expanded to 5) all much younger than her and across the ocean.
Other children of baalei teshuva talked about the challenges of having parents who don’t get all of the social nuances of frum society, how to dress for example I cringed remembering how I sent my oldest daughter to 1st grade every day in long, flowery dresses, until I visited her school towards the end of the year and realized all the other girls were wearing 3-4 length shirts and skirts. I cringed again remembering the not overly tactful 8th-grade teacher who asked me during our parent teacher conference, “I’m sorry, but where do you buy her clothing?! Sometimes I can’t believe the things she wears to school.”
This article reminded me how complicated it is to be the child of baalei teshuva. You don’t exactly fit in. Your parents don’t fully get it. You are straddling worlds, and the space between those worlds can feel longer than your legs.
But over the days since I read the article, I’ve received an extra dose of chizuk from its title. About the uncommon experience of growing up as the child of parents who chose this path you were born into.
The article’s title (thank you Rivki Silver and editor Bassi Gruen!) was: “On the Shoulders of Giants.”

5 comments

  1. As the BT parent of FFB children, this was thought provoking and nice to read about, thank you :).

  2. Thank you for your amazing posts, as always.
    I would love to read this article, but I’m not subscribed to the magazine. Is there anything I can do to read it?

  3. Funny, I’m 40 and I’m the child of BTs as is my husband. I think we are quirky too in a sense and we are not full FFBs. I’m not sure how far down the line the children actually start to really fit in. My children are still a bit different than everyone..

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