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  JEWISH AND KOSHER UNITED STATES  הקהילה היהודית בארצות הברית       
 
 
  KD MAGAZINE!                      ב"ה     
 

RABBI SHLOME EHRLICH

When There’s No Role Model
By Rabbi Shlome Ehrlich



 

 As the father of a blended family, it’s especially fulfilling, when I can use an occurrence in my own life to bring out a strong and warm point. My 12 year old son lives with his mother overseas. One Lag B’Omer, when he was 10½ years old, I took him to a bonfire at a Yeshiva near my home. I was watching him as he started crying tears of joy - of belonging. It then occurred to me, that yes, even though I am his father one of my responsibilities is to be a role model.

Now that we’re approaching Chanukah, it’s an opportune time to find a role model for children who unfortunately have none at home. Yom Tov is family time and to children without a father at home, this is when they feel the void the most.

Children don’t like feeling different; a boy needs an adult to replace the on-site role modeling of an absent parent. A designated adult – a role model – is the perfect answer. A role model doesn’t replace a father; however, he will make it comfortable for your child to join in activities which a father does with his son. What I sometimes see are boys who end up with a different neighbor/different shul every week. That kind of set up can be confusing to a child and usually doesn’t work.

What is the exact function of a role model? What do we expect from them? How can we find one?

A role model is NOT a mentor or a private tutor. A mentor takes children/teens out and does activities with them. This can run into a big chunk of time and a considerable amount of money. A private tutor is for learning.

A role model will do the things that any father does for his sons, therefore he doesn’t need lots of extra time or money. He can just include your son in the activities he’s doing with his own children.

I know that it’s difficult to find a competent role model, but these guidelines can help make it easier.

How to find a competent role model:

*It’s best to have a Rov give a Haskamah on the person you are considering as a role model for your child and to answer questions that may come up.

*The person who you consider should be accessible. Be it a neighbor or someone from the family like a grandparent or an uncle or cousin.

*If you can’t think of someone on your own ask around. Ask your Rov, Rebbe, local Askan, neighbor, or family member.

*There are Kollel Yungerleit who have some extra time. Ask in the local Kollel.

* Give your son’s role model an official title (Moishe’s Role Model), because it defines his mission and spells out his responsibility to your child.

*Commitment is very important in our lives. Try to find someone who is committed and who will be there as he says he will.

* Spell out – on a paper – exactly what you want the role model to help you with. A list will show the potential role model that you’re not asking for a major commitment which will make it easier to find someone.

What a role model can do with your son:

*Learn with your son on Shabbos

*Take him to community events

*Pack boxes at Tomchei Shabbos

*Attend a Hachnosas Sefer Torah

*Invite a child to join the Shabbos Seudah in his home

*Take your child to watch the lighting of Chanukah Lecht by the Rebbe or Rosh Hayeshiva.

*He can take your son to shul for one Tefillah on Shabbos

*He can talk to your son in learning.

These things will forge a basic connection between your son and his role model.

Protect your child:

We’d like to hope that all people who offer to help children only have their best interests in mind. Needless to say this isn’t always so.  Not everyone models the behavior we want. Also, many times children from single parent families are more vulnerable to predators. Feel comfortable establishing guidelines for any interaction between the mentor and your own son. For example, all activities should be arranged in public place or in your own home, not in a private or secluded set up.  As strange as it may sound, a role model should be following the equivalent of Hilchos Yichud when they are with your son.

Keep your eyes and mind open so you can properly protect your child and if need be, you can blame your request for public learning on your Rov, Askan, organization or therapist.

Characteristics of a Role Model:

*Positive people can have a positive effect on the lives of others. A positive minded person who is loaded with enthusiasm can surely prove to be the best role model one can have in life! 

*Role models should always have a sense of integrity with strong values.

* Respect How a role model treats others speaks volumes about who they are. A good role model listens to others and also considers opposing points of view. He treats others how he would want to be treated and is considerate of others. When making mistakes, a role model does not place the blame on others; he owns up to his own shortcomings.

*Intelligence is something that cannot be measured merely by grades but how the person uses his intellect to succeed in life and help others in return.

*Good Middos help to make a person better in life. Your role model should be having exemplary Middos that should inspire your son to improve.

*Self-Esteem A role model is self-assured and happy with who he is. If a role model is confident, those who look up to him, will too. A role model displays a streak of independence showing he does not need to follow current trends.

*Handles Stress Positively Being human means having to constantly deal with stress and overcome obstacles. A role model sets a good example on how to handle pressure. And when they fail, they attempt to learn from their mistakes.

*Role Models Are Trustworthy A good role model also does what he says. A good role model delivers on his promises and can always be counted on even when he is overwhelmed.

*Perseverance is a key trait. Role models demonstrate that if they work hard to attain something, then others can, too.

I have a pamphlet that can be given to a role model to read. Please feel free to contact me for copies. 
--

Rabbi Shlome Ehrlich; has a degree in CBT/DBT, is founder /director Ohr Layesharim (teen enrichment services) and works privately with preteens and teens struggling with behavioral issues. He specializes in children that display BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) tendencies. Rabbi Ehrlich is the father of a blended family.  He can be reached at rabbisehrlich@gmail.com or 845-208-0445 


 
   
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