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Section:  Avodah   Category: Chanoch L'Naar
Michanech V'Sheretz BiYado - The Difference Between Chinuch And Chicken Pox
"No" is one of the hardest words a parent must tell their child, especially since kids can be pretty stubborn and don't give up so fast.  There are two schools of thought on how to deal with keeping your kids away from things they should not have.  The old school says to tell them no and, bring what it may, too bad.  However nowadays some people claim that it is better in the long run to give them what they want in small doses to curb their fire, and then wean them later as they mature.  This is like vaccinations, where you inject into a child a low dose of the disease that the body can easily combat, and then when the disease strikes for real, in full force, the child's immunity system already knows how to deal with.

This argument sounds to me (I am not a professional Michanech although I have consulted with them) like a 21st century Bubba Meisa borne out of an unwillingness to stand up to the challenges that our children present us with.  Chazal teach us the concept of "Tovel V'Sheretz BiYado", going to the mikva does not purify you if the tumah is in your hand all the while.  Why don't we ask ourselves, "Michanech V'Sheretz BiYodo?", how can we be Michanech children against things that we ourselves have already placed in their hands?

Rav Chaim Kanievsky was once asked how we can answer the criticism of the Satan who boasts that our enemies are willing to strap on bombs and blow themselves to bits and pieces for their ideals, while we are not?  He answered that the Yetzer Hara is the one driving them, while we are driven by the Yetzer Tov. In our case the latter is no match for the prior.

When you inject a child with a small dose of disease, the body rejects it and goes into high gear to rid itself of the disease.  When you give a child something that is not good for them that they themselves desire, their system accepts it gladly and it fuels a demand for even more.  Even in the medical world a vaccination can go wrong and cause the very disease it is meant to prevent.  Surely in our frail spiritual world the small dose of a bad thing given to the child will almost be guaranteed to lead to the full blown disease.

When it comes to introducing children to things that have the danger to stay with them for a lifetime, every day counts.  The younger the child is when introduced, the harder it will be to break the habit.  Even if you will not ultimately win the battle, as outside influences will introduce things to your children, nevertheless every day counts.  It is worth battling day in and day out until the day you lose.  It will make a huge difference later in life when the child finally comes around and wants to cut away from his past habits.  The more ingrained from an earlier age, the harder it is to detach even with the strongest desire and motivation.  There are many versions of a story in which the punch line is that the great Rosh Yeshiva Rav Chaim Pinchos Sheinberg Shlit"a who didn't stop learning for a second since his late teenage years, boasted in his mid 90's that he finally got over his favorite baseball team.  How many decades did he work tirelessly to erase this part of his past from his heart until the job was finally complete?

One last point to consider.  We do not control the destiny of our children.  Each person that is created has their own bechira and no parent is a master over it.  We are obligated to raise our children in the best way possible and teach them right from wrong as the Torah dictates.  That is our job period.  If we do it BeEmuna and set a good personal example we will be amply rewarded regardless of the results.  

On the day that we stand before our Creator and He asks us why our children do something inappropriate, would you rather be blamed that he acquired it elsewhere because you were too overzealous in saying no, or do you want to try to explaining that you yourself gave it to him thinking that this would be the best way for him to grow out of it?
RELATED ARTICLES:chinuch  Rav Chaim Kanievsky  Rav Chaim Pinchos Sheinberg  vaccine

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