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TEEN ISSUES-----public school?

Lost Posted - 25 July 2000 12:56

I'm 16 going into my junior year. Im going to my third yeshiva in three years. Nothing seems to work out.

When I was younger I wanted to learn but ever since 8th grade I haven’t enjoyed it. The yeshiva Im going to this year knows about my situation and the principle told me that if I don’t learn to his satisfaction (Ill be in his shiur so he'll know) he’s going to kick me out.

The next option is public school which I wouldn’t mind doing but I know I will regret it. Friends have told me that if you just learn you'll eventually come to enjoy it but it hasn’t happened. At the yeshiva Ill be going to this year Ill have another problem. Most of the guys (and girls) aren’t that frum. I have a hard time with peer pressure. Im afraid that Ill be pressured into doing things I want to do now but I know Ill regret later.

I can’t ask anyone for help because most people don’t realize the situation Im in, not even my parents, and I don’t want the word to get out. I know the only reason why Im having these troubles is because Im a teenager because I was totally different until I turned 14.

Im sure that if I weren’t a teenager I wouldn’t have most of my problems. Will I be ok once I get older if I regret what I’ve done or will the things I do now like hanging out with girls and not learning have a lasting effect on me?

MODERATOR Posted - 25 July 2000 17:01

Your situation is difficult, but survivable. You need,

(a) Someone to talk to, an adult preferably, maybe someone in your new school who you can confide in. Preferable someone who you can call 24/7 when you are in trouble, or just need chizuk. This is vital.

(b) A circle of friends, if possible, outside of your school. An “after school life”, so to speak, of more desirable quality. Perhaps in the Shul you daven in? Perhaps neighbors? Perhaps old friends from your past?

(c) To know your boundaries. You may not be able to always resist temptation, but you should put all your strength into making sure you do not do something that has a permanent effect on you. In other words, do not change your lifestyle, your self-image, or the type of people you identify with.

There is a difference between you being you, just doing things that you normally would not, versus you changing into someone who is comfortable with those things. If you want to survive, you will want to avoid as much as possible those things that will “change” you.

Hanging out with girls is one thing, but actually “going out” is another. That can change you. Stay away.

Behaviors that can change your reputation should be avoided at all costs. If people look at you differently, you may look at yourself differently (The Kotzker Rebbe said, regarding the posuk about the Meraglim, “They looked at us like grasshoppers, and so it seemed to us”, that because others looked “down” on them, they came to look down at themselves).

(d) To know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. You will not be in school forever. High school will pass quicker than it you think. When that happens, you can return to the lifestyle that you crave. DO NOT GO TO PUBLIC SCHOOL. It would be better for you to get a job and a correspondence diploma, or perhaps even a GED, than to go to Public School. Depending on what state you live in, you will probably be past the age of compulsory education next year (or maybe even this year).

You may want to forget your last year of high school and go to Eretz Yisroel. But all of this will only happen if you stand as firm as you can in the meantime, so that by the time you have the option of returning to where you want to be, both you and whatever Yeshiva you would like to go to are comfortable with it.

As far as being a teenager goes, it is true that young boys and girls have a bigger than average Yetzer Horah (so says Rashi and the Rambam), and that they are not children anymore, but not quite adults either (so says the Gemora), which makes life complicated. Some teens go through adolescence easier, and some more difficult, which is natural (so says Rav Shach shlita). So you could be right. Nobody knows you as well as you (so says Rav Chaim Volozhen).

One more thing. If you do slip up, don’t worry. That’s life. Get back up, shake your head, and start again. One of the first things they teach fighters is how to fall properly. You’re a fighter now. The main thing about falling properly is to know that you can get up and fight again. In the spiritual “ring”, you never lose – you can only give up.

You can survive this but you have to be strong. If you need anything, just holler.

Lost Posted - 26 July 2000 0:12

One of the reasons why I want to go to public school is that I get into arguments with my parents and I never win. I feel that if I get kicked out of yeshiva and go to public school I will have won or at least it will show my parents that they cant make me do whatever they want me to and get me upset all the time and expect me to come out frum.

MODERATOR Posted - 26 July 2000 0:54

Don’t go to public school. You will not win; and your parents will not realize they have lost. They will probably blame it on you anyway.

This is a very common “Parenting Trap”, where an adversarial relationship is set up between the parent and the child, the parents’ position is, You will be frum, and the child is forced into the position of, No, I won’t. What happens is that if the child straightens out his life, he “loses”, but if he messes up his life, he “wins”. Nobody wants to be a loser, so the child gets the great big motivation not to straighten out his life.

There are so many kids who will not become frum because their parents will “take the credit anyway”, and, the child feels, will always hang above him, reminding him that his parents WERE RIGHT and he WAS WRONG.

Rav Yonason Eyebushitz ZTL once asked why is it that when someone calls a rabbi with a question about a slaughtered cow, and the rabbi rules the cow is not Kosher, he is willing to throw away the cow with pleasure. But when that same cow owner is in a din Torah with someone, and the rabbi rules against him, he gets angry at the rabbi, even though the cow cost him as much money as he lost in the court case.

His answer is that the person is not upset because he spent the money. Rather, he is upset because, in the fin Torah, he is the “loser” and his friend is the “winner”. When he discards the cow, he is the “frum” one – he does not “lose”.

Nobody wants to be a loser. And kids will actually ruin their lives in order not to lose “the game” of their upbringing.

This is THE most deadly mistake parents can make; creating an adversarial situation with their children such that if they succeed in life, they “lose”.

The rule of parental influence is, it’s not so much what you say, or even how you say it, but WHO is doing the saying.

If you were a Yankee fan and your team was criticized by a Mets fan, you would be defensive; but if the same critique came from a fellow Yankees fan, you would accept it. It’s the same with parents. If they and their children are “on the same team”, the children will listen; but if they are on “opposing teas”, the child will resist.

Football players will accept an enormous amount of abusive rhetoric from their coaches (“You morons! You couldn’t play ball to save your life!!! ---- Typical “half-time” speech), because they know that he and they are on the same team. If he wins, they do; if they lose, so is he. If you and the person criticizing you are on the “same team”, you are so much more receptive to what they say, no matter what thy say.

I would suggest ordering tape #7 (“Win/Win Parenting”) from the following tape library:

In order to understand more about this idea, and why you want to go to public school.

What I suggest instead, is for someone to talk to your parents and help them to handle the situation. If you want I can arrange that. Send me a post with the words “Private for Moderator” on the top, and I will consider it private email, making sure it will not get posted. We can do this.

Lost Posted - 02 August 2000 15:04

I know that public school isn’t good but Im afraid that if I don’t get out my anger at my parents now that Ill do it when Im 20 and not be frum when I grow up and marry a non-Jew (I know plenty of non-Jewish girls my age). If I get it out now by going to public school then I can realize I was wrong when Im 19 or 20 and go to Israel and get fixed. I know that’s a little bit backwards thinking but it’s probably true.

MODERATOR Posted - 02 August 2000 15:33


Public school is not the answer. Sometimes kids try that and it works, often it doesn't. The odds are against you that way. It's better, but takes more work, to work through the anger you have against your parents, and, at the very lest, not allow the Yetzer Horah to use it against your frumkeit.

Whenever we have 2 options, one takes more work but yields better results, and the other is easier but not as beneficial, it pays to put in the effort.

crackhead Posted - 11 August 2000 12:51

Yo lost listen im 17 Im not frum my parents are. Your worried bout being different if you go to public you’ll be the one there that everyone hates and I know this b/c non Jews most of the time befriend Jews and then backstab and use to the fullest.

I have been through more than you can handle, ask moderator he knows me for a long time and my family.

Different can be good sometimes bout the fights with your parents don’t get back at them it never works I had the same thing talk it out and what is bothering you ok bout religion no one will change it but you. If you want to be religious you’ll become religious. But not if you’re in public school you’ll get worse and worse till you hit rock bottom and believe me I do understand you I was in 4 schools in 3 years and most of the schools kicked me out for no reason.

So talk it out wit your parents and see how it comes out sit them down when they are in a good mood may I add. So if u need any help just ask peace

Mr. sanders

MODERATOR Posted - 11 August 2000 15:28

Thank you Crackhead.

Posted - 26 August 2000 0:00

I’ve been trying to figure out with some guys are so into being frum and others like me aren’t. I noticed that all 3 guys in my yeshiva who have become very frum come from nonreligious families. None of their parents are shomer shabbos and none of their parents would keep kosher if not for their kids. I think it’s because they weren’t pressured to be frum before they were ready.

My parents are frum and expect me to do everything right and Im under a lot of pressure from my parents and others to be frum. I actually want to grow up to be a frum Jew but I have to do it at my own pace when I want to do it. That’s why I want to go to public school and college so I can be frum the way I want to and not the way the yeshiva wants me to be.

Punims Posted - 27 August 2000 17:18

asdfg, I found the same thing went on in my school, it's very interesting to see it. The ones who have rabbis as fathers and really frum families end up being the bummiest ones, the ones who are always sneaking off to meet guys... but then there are those girls that have non-religious families and they become really "into" learning and they are the most enthusiastic ones to go to Israel and become better. it's weird the way this works but if we realize it, maybe parents can do something about it, I’m not sure what though.

MODERATOR Posted - 27 August 2000 18:55

Punims, the problem is that the only non-frum-family kids that you are seeing are those who want to go to yeshiva. Among those, it's true, they will be the good ones, since the only way they are there is because they made a decision to be religious despite their environment. In other words, you only see the exceptions. As opposed to the kids from frum families, you see all of them -- those who want to be frum more, and those who want less - they all end up in Yeshiva.

As far as the "rabbi’s children" go, it depends on the particular rabbi. I know that often there is pressure on rabbis' children to be role models, automatically expectations are put on them, and they get tempted to compensate. It's difficult for rabbis sometimes to know the parenting skills needed to deal with this.


I implore you, do not go to Public School. No matter how dangerous Yeshiva is for you, public school is more dangerous. You will not have the pressure that you have in yeshiva, but you will have other pressures. Out of the frying pan and into the fire. If you're trying to make a statement to your parents, find a way to do it without hurting yourself in the process. Someone should speak to them.

tess Posted - 28 August 2000 14:10

I just wanted to say- im one of those rabbis daughters, plus I am the Rosh yeshivas niece. im so freaking sick of everyone judging us and expecting us to be superhuman teenagers. I needed to find the real me just like the rest of you ok??

The only difference is that every step I took that was a little out of the ordinary derech for a "bas yisrael" was scrutinized and judged by too many people. we are growing up in the same world and the same influences as you are! yes, maybe our backgrounds should be stronger because of our family.......but that only makes our yetzer haras that much greater.

MODERATOR Posted - 28 August 2000 17:34


I don't blame you. You are expressing exactly what I said in my previous post about being pressured to compensate. My wife was in the same position in school. It is indeed sickening. But please remember, that everyone has their particular nisyonos, and as ironic as it may sound, being the rabbi's daughter is sometimes one of them. And it's the one that Hashem has chosen for you. So take it as any other nisayon. It's frustrating, but something that Hashem has designed for you to be able to be rewarded for overcoming it.

tess Posted - 03 September 2000 15:44

Thank you. no ones ever made me look at it that way before.

reddiamond Posted - 03 July 2006 17:01

Hey mod, I love you. You talk straight to the heart and answers everything spot on. I wish I were as good as you! hatslocho!

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