A Mother’s Dilemma // Being Honest With Our Children

Parenting With Slovie Jungreis Wolff

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Dear Ami Magazine:

I have a dilemma involving chinuch, and I was wondering if you could present it to the public or deal with it some way in your magazine.
I am the mother of two adorable boys, ages seven and five. They are very close, and I don’t differentiate between them when it comes to going out or bringing them to simchahs. They either both come or no one does. However, with simchahs recently cutting down on the number of invitations, especially for children, I find myself in a situation where I don’t know what to do.
My seven-year-old was invited to a close relative’s simchah (he’s the same age as the baal hasimchah’s son), but my five-year-old wasn’t. Should I tell the five-year-old that only the seven-year-old was invited? Or should I pretend to put them both to bed and then let the seven-year-old go out with us after his younger brother is sleeping? I don’t like “tricking” my boys. I am very honest with them, and we enjoy a trusting, loving relationship, baruch Hashem. But in my opinion, a five-year-old cannot understand that not being invited has nothing to do with him and isn’t his fault. I don’t want him to feel bad. Perhaps it’s better not to take either of them along.
I would greatly appreciate if one of your experts could address this situation. I’m sure there are many others with the same question.
Looking forward to hearing your response.

Mrs Klein

Dear Mrs. Klein,

The joy you feel in parenting your two boys comes through in your words. They are not only close in age, but close with one another as well. What nachas!
You ask what to do when your older son has been invited to a simchah but his brother wasn’t. You are really posing two separate questions. Should you pretend and sneak your older son out after his brother falls asleep, or should you tell your younger son that only his older brother was invited? Or should you simply leave both boys home and not take either of them?
Is this a question of chinuch? Absolutely.
Let’s think about the first scenario. You pretend to put both boys to bed and then allow the seven-year-old to join you. What are both boys coming away with chinuch-wise? Your older son is learning that it’s okay to trick his brother and be untruthful. You are giving a “hechsher” to sheker. There may be a good rationalization, because you are protecting hurt feelings. The trouble is that this type of behavior will now be acceptable in his mind, not just with regard to his younger brother but in life. Contemplate various situations down the road. When you will ask your son why he wasn’t honest about his actions, he’ll be able to say, “But I didn’t want to hurt you, Mommy. I didn’t want to disappoint you, Tatty.” It was much easier for him to just keep quiet and not tell you.

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