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Two sons…and two different attitudes

Perhaps it was the coincidence of the timing of these two pieces about adult sons and their communication with their families that caught our attention. The notes—one hand written, the other digital—show the spectrum of attitudes toward parents.  One is grateful and loving, the other…well you decide.

A Son Thanks His Parents

A week ago Sunday, a young Orthodox couple were on their way to seek medical attention for the pregnant wife when their livery cab was struck broadside. Raizy and Nathan Glauber, both 21, were killed and the next day their baby boy delivered right after the crash also died.

Shortly after the deaths, a letter written on the eve of his wedding by Mr. Glauber to his parents began circulating among the Orthodox community.  The feelings expressed will warm the heart of every parent.   In a translation from Yiddish published by The New York Times yesterday, the letter expresses sentiments that many adult children feel but too rarely express:

I feel an obligation to thank you for everything you did for me since I was a small child. You did not spare time, energy and money, whether it was when I needed a private tutor to learn or an eye doctor or general encouragement. Also, later on, you helped me to attain spiritual heights through my Torah study, you sent me to yeshiva to learn your values, religious and worldly, until I reached to this current lucky moment.

Even though I’m leaving your home (actually I’m not leaving, I’m bringing in an additional family member) I want to tell you that all the education and values you taught me I’ll – with God’s help — take along with me in my new home, and continue to plant the same education in my home and kids that God will grant me.

But since kids do not grasp what parents are, and how much they do for them, and only when he matures and – with God’s help — have their own kids, they could realize it. And unfortunately I may have caused you a lot of pain; I am asking you to please forgive me.

In the letter’s last paragraph, he asks his parents to pray for him and his bride.  Surely they are doing so but for reasons none ever expected.

A Son Teaches His Father a Lesson

For a 180-degree turn in attitude we go to the Times bits technology blog where writer Nick Bilton blasts the ineptitude of what he considers the technologically lazy, including  his father. In a post, he dismisses people who text “thank you,” who ask directions instead of using Google maps, even readers who (horrors) ask where they can buy his book.

Apparently among the worst offenders in the brave new world of tech etiquette are people who not only dare to both leave a voice mail message but then add to the lack of civility by emailing to say  they’ve left a message.  Who has committed this technological blunder?  No less than his father!

My father learned this lesson last year after leaving me a dozen voice mail messages, none of which I listened to. Exasperated, he called my sister to complain that I never returned his calls. “Why are you leaving him voice mails?” my sister asked. “No one listens to voice mail anymore. Just text him.”

My mother realized this long ago. Now we communicate mostly through Twitter.

Lovely, isn’t it?

Mothers Talk to Your Sons

Here’s one conversation mothers should think about having with sons, just not on Twitter. Princeton professor Anne Marie Slaughter struck a national nerve last year with her Atlantic piece that “Women Still Can’t Have It All.”  Ms Slaughter has carried her message far and wide and last week spoke at the South by Southwest conference in Austin.  According to news reports, her speech was standing room only, mostly women.

Part of Ms. Slaughter message is that nothing is going to change for working moms until dads truly share child care.  “If guys are willing to get together with women and insist on the ability to be breadwinners and caregivers together, then I think we can really get there,” she said, reported Gigaom.

Yet while her speech was standing-room-only, the audience was mostly young women. Still undeterred, she told the few guys under age 30 in the audience, “The future of work and family, and male/female equality, it depends on you,”

For the sake of our daughters and other young women, perhaps moms need to think about discussing with our sons the reality of trying to balance work and family. It might not make a difference, especially when women themselves are often conflicted over their myriad roles, but it’s worth broaching especially with sons who aren’t at that stage  in life. Too many never consider the conflict until there’s a crying baby and a stressed-out wife.  Of course, that’s where grandparents can help too.

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