Entries by Rabbi Elazar Bloom, LMFT

When the Servant Becomes the Master

I know a young girl that talks and talks. She started talking early and has not stopped. It’s almost like she is using language to make sure she is real, that others are there and she is connected to them. And this got me thinking…
Words are powerful and so helpful in managing the ongoing overwhelm of being human.
When experience is too much, the mind kicks in with all types categorizations, labels, judgments, predictions, analyses, rationalizations, etc., etc.
And what is the cost of all those words?
They can control and package experience prematurely. This provides an illusion of control that may serve us in the moment but can build up as a “film” between us and others, between ourselves and what we encounter.
A possible helpful takeaway from all this is:
While words are helpful in managing our experience, the ideal order is to remain open (to the best of one’s ability) to more fully feel and allow what is, and only then to use more fully utilize language to communicate (to oneself and maybe others) what is now a more direct take on the experience.
Otherwise the tool becomes the master.

Not That Place…

It’s fascinating (and somewhat frustrating) that the vulnerable place within myself that I protect (and subsequently reject) is the most fertile ground for deep connection with my spouse.
Our rejection of this common (human) ground makes us strangers to one another.
Our embrace of this common (human) ground creates a bond of acceptance and safety that sustains us for a lifetime.

Injury Becomes Identity

A child is angrily scolded into submission. Out of fear, he complies, he corrects his behavior, the authority figure is satisfied.
And there is a cost.
“Injury Becomes Identity”
The initial cost is the unseen wound of rejection wrought by the trusted elder’s anger (children inherently initially trust adults). And that cost festers. It festers into the child’s self perception that he is “bad”, unloveable, problematic, defective. it becomes “who he is”.
Suggestion: After you shout or express anger at a child, pick up the pieces, take responsibility for not communicating your feelings and expectations in a more respectful way.
Learn more about the deeper source of the anger (hurt, pain, etc.) so you don’t unnecessarily burden the child with feelings that are yours to own.
The issue (which triggered the anger) can still be addressed, but without a cost that can linger for a lifetime.
We owe this to ourselves and our children.

Anything But Loneliness

I often have parents come in sharing about how disturbing their child has become:
“He constantly teases his sister”
“She talks to me like I am a nothing”
“He fights me on every decision”
“She wears things that make her look like a…”
And I remind them what I am constantly reminding myself with our own children:
“Strife is better than loneliness”
Creating noise in all of its variations is an act of protest, of hope even, that someone will maybe, just maybe, tune in to the human being that waits anxiously for connection and to finally be seen.

What I am going to Do..

“What I am going to do, not what YOU are going to do.”
For me this is one of the clearest, most succinct expressions of healthy BOUNDARY setting. In boundary setting my commitment to myself and my own well being comes first.
If I am trying to get YOU to do something different as a reaction to what you are doing to ME, I am actually then violating YOUR boundaries. Yes, it just keeps on getting messier from here…
Example: Your husband is pressuring you to have his sister over for dinner. You don’t want to have his sister over. As he continues to try and influence you, you holler: “Stop putting pressure on me!”
You are now trying to control him. You do not have real power to determine how he acts and therefore this is not clear, effective boundary setting.
What it might look like instead…
“I am not comfortable with you pressuring me. If you continue, I will leave. Being around while your sister is over is difficult for me (you can explain why if you think that it will be helpful) If she comes over, I will be at my friend Sheila’s house and be back when your sister has left. If you will, please text me when she is gone.”

Acting Out?

Focus on a child’s BEHAVIOR and soon find yourself in a punish/reward feedback loop that while initially efficient, ultimately leaves the child insecure, emotionally unsafe and disconnected.
Focus on the child’s NEEDS that give rise to the behavior and find yourself tuned in his emotions and his world, creating a safe haven, fertile ground for healthy sustained growth and development.
Ask –
What is he “acting out”?
What need is he trying to tell me about?

Can My Child Be My Friend?

Can My Child Be My Friend?
There are often 2 schools of thought on this:
Authority – No, a child needs a parent, not a friend.
Connection – Yes, being friends with your child creates a close relationship which is a good thing!
Truth – Your child should NOT be your friend. That is an unhealthy burden placed on his shoulders. Your need for friendship should be met elsewhere.
But,
YOU should be your child’s friend.
With this you hold the bulk of the relational load and serve his needs for closeness and support. That is a parent’s job.

Still (and always) a Child

My recent experience of the beautiful picture below brought this home in a real way. Witnessing my parents pre-yom kippur blessing and embrace, the joy was indescribable. Here I am a 45 year old, with a family of my own still deeply impacted by the safety and connection of my parents.

More than ever, I am convinced that the greatest gift parents can give their children is the health and security of their own relationship.

 

Good Morning!

Walking to synagogue this past Shabbat with my 5 year old daughter Shevy.

Me to a man riding a bike:”Good Morning”

No response.

“Good Morning!” (louder).

No response.

“GOOD MORNING”!

Still nothing.

Sensing my frustration, Shevy says: “It’s ok tatty, he is probably listening to music and can’t hear you”.

“Yeah, you’re right..” (slightly smiling now and feeling a bit better)

“Who taught you that?” I asked

“You did”

I’m not sure how or when I taught her this but was really happy to know that already she can allow someone else’s inability to see or hear to remain on their side of the street. I hope she will be able to do this for me as well.