Dr. David Pelcovitz – Three Keys to Raising Your Children

On Moetzaei Shabbos, December 25th, Dr. David Pelcovitz, one of the foremost child psychologist gave a lecture to over 500 men and women at the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills. You can download the shiur here.

Dr. Pelcovitz is the son of the former long time Rabbi of the White Shul in Far Rockaway, Rabbi Raphael Pelcovitz and his lectures are filled with relevant Divrei Torah, psychological insights and amazing stories that drive home his message.

The lecture was sponsored by P’TACH, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide the best possible Jewish and secular education to children who have been disenfranchised because of learning differences.

Find the Right Balance between Love and Limits.

Chazal say the key to good parenting is the left hand pushes away while the right hand brings closer. The left hand represents limits and the right hand represents love.

In our times, our general society is relaxing limits and we are affected by those changes. As an example Dr. Pelcovitz points out that the majority of teenagers surveyed in certain Orthodox communities feel that their parents should put more filters and controls on their Internet usage.

On the love side, Dr. Pelcovitz points out that the overwhelming majority of parents want to be better parents. As he put it, “A mother can only be as happy as her unhappiest child”.

One area in which we can improve is giving our children our undivided attention. He speaks about email voice, which is the tone you detect when the person on the other side of a phone call is dealing with their email. We all have many distractions but we need to try to communicate with undivided attention with our children on a regular basis.

Keeping Perspective

The secular research on “mentsch making” says the number one predictor is how we talk about others with whom we disagree. We need to teach by modeling how we respect those we disagree with.

We have to realize that children are constantly absorbing lessons from our actions. And these lessons go very deep. Keeping perspective is a key component on good parenting.

Appreciating Your Child’s Uniqueness

Dr. Pelcovitz points out that families have bumper stickers such as “Lakewood or Bust”, “Ivy League Forever” or “Chesed or Else”. However, we often have children who don’t exactly fit into our vision. It’s very important that we see our children as they are and bless them for who they are.

Taking that a step further we not only have to recognize them for who they are but we have to be grateful for who they are.

There are just some of the keys to raising your children and we want to strongly encourage that you download and listen to the wisdom that Dr. Pelcovitz is teaching.

Originally Published on Dec 27, 2010

10 comments on “Dr. David Pelcovitz – Three Keys to Raising Your Children

  1. Hard is not impossible, so those in these situations need pertinent, helpful advice. Someone qualified to be in kollel or in Jewish education, for example, ought to remain there as long as feasible; such activity is a positive good for our people.

  2. Intuitively, I say it’s really hard to maintain the traditional Jewish family life when no parent is at home 9-5

    Bob, while this may be true, uncomfortable realities intrude. How does one square this truth with the need for huge sums to pay tuition and the tendency for many healthy young men to abstain from work in favor of low-paying Torah study?

  3. Bob,
    You may want to look into the ‘Work and Family’ area of Sociology and see if you can find any Jews or Orthodox Jews doing research into your question. Here is one such researcher and article:
    It focuses on Jewish economic success. Women in the workforce is also an area of interest amoung some scholars; perhaps you can find one interested in the orthodox/religious Jewish cohort.
    One forthcoming publication that may look at the question in the opposite way is referenced in the Burstein work: “Religious Affiliation and Participation as Determinants of Women’s
    Educational Attainment and Wages.” In Religion, Families, and Health in the United States,
    edited by C. Ellison and R. Hummer. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

  4. Intuitively, I say it’s really hard to maintain the traditional Jewish family life when no parent is at home 9-5 (or longer if they commute). Jewish experts in child-rearing should be ready to advise on the best approaches under such circumstances. “Happy talk” on blogs is not enough.

  5. If you’ll allow me to contribute my two shekels to this discussion….

    To Bob Miller #5: You might be able to get better statistics as to the percentage of Orthodox Jewish families where there are two spouses and both work from an organization like Agudath Israel, which uses that and similar statistics for evaluating the needs of the Orthodox Jewish community. Also, Agudath Israel might be able to better inform you as to how this number is trending over the past fifty years or so. As to the impact on child-rearing however, that would be really difficult to quantify. Even in a scientifically set up, double blind control group study over decades, with impeccable methodology, I doubt if you could get replicable results. There are just too many variables involved in child-rearing, not the least of which is the impact of the Internet and the outside culture, plus any strains in the marriage between the father and mother, plus the change in the dynamic if there is a special needs child in the family.

  6. 1) Bob, I thought the vignette was relevant because you wanted Orthodox stats and it highlighted the fact that different people have different definitions of Orthodox. Obviously your mileage varied.

    2) I would advise you to listen to the tape, even though you have grown children because you are concerned with the problems facing the Jewish community. Dr. Pelcovitz did not specifically mention changes to family dynamics resulting from reliance on day care.

  7. 1. The vignette is irrelevant to my question.

    2. Did Dr. P address or allude to any changes in Jewish family dynamics resulting from reliance on day care? Any ways to deal specifically with such challenges?

  8. Bob, we don’t even have an accurate count of how many American Orthodox families there are, because it depends on your definition of Orthodox, a topic we’ve visited many times before.

    In the lecture, Dr Pelcovitz told a story of when he was invited to a Satmar Shabbos for chasidim who were raising severely developmentally disabled children. He joked that the organizers referred to him as one of the Chasidei Umos haOlam (Righteous Among the Nations).

    I only mentioned that vignette, because it is in the shiur and somewhat relevant to Bob’s question. Dr Pelcovitz and the mostly RWMO-LWUO Queens crowd got a big kick out of it.

    Let’s really try to learn and grow from the unbelievably valuable advice Dr. Pelcovitz gave and discuss some of the points he’s making.

  9. Do we know the percentage of American Orthodox families in which both spouses work all day outside the home? What is the trend, and what is the impact on child-rearing?

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