By Chasha C.
Before you pass this article off as another cliché rant by some irate stranger, hear me out. Not because I have more life experience than you do, or because I’ve acquired more knowledge. Hear me out because I am talking from my current reality.
I am 17 years old learning in a prominent Lubavitch girls high school. I have friends in every established Lubavitch girls’ high school across North America and let me tell you something: The rules that Mechanchos believe are most vital for their students’ safety (b’gashmius and b’ruchnius) are being broken. Constantly.
Perhaps hearing the perspective of a teenager can provide some food for thought.
Micro-managing. Ever heard of the word? It’s defined as the act of excessively handling in a negative manner. Many school authorities are micro-managing their students’ lives in a desperate attempt at ensuring that their students’ ‘stay frum’, ‘out of trouble’, or otherwise, ‘chassidish’. (Please comment to let me know if this applies to the boys’ Yeshivos, as well).
Micro-managing isn’t doing any good and it follows a simple logic: We do something questionable (we are teenagers- we test authority. It’s our job). You create a rule to prevent that from happening again. We come up with a way to get around your rule. You come up with a new rule to prevent the breaking of this last rule. We come up with a way to break it. This vicious cycle leads to no good. It’s completely against what many noted educators believe in. Why is it still going on?
Mechanchos, don’t forget who is sitting behind a desk for about 9 hours a day without any concerns of raising children, financial crisis or marriage issues. Yes, we teenagers are stressed out, but we still do have plenty of time and developing mind-space to come up with countless methods of breaking rules.
An added problem is that we see these guidelines given to us as ‘rules’ and not helpful advice to keep us safe. More often than not, we cannot see your logic behind the rules. This would be okay if we were children. But we are teenagers who need answers. We cannot be told, “Don’t cross the street because Mommy said so.”
We need to be aware that looking both ways before crossing a street is to keep us alive.
Make us want to keep the rules because they are for our good. Get us on your side, so we don’t want to rebel. Make us feel like we have a say, we have control; that students and mechanchos are on the same page. Make us feel like there is a responsible adult in our lives on whom we can rely.
It seems so obvious that incorporating more positive reinforcement can do so much good. Is it that hard to show you care? Everyone needs positive emotional support. Parents cheer on their babies at every new word and step their child takes. Teenagers, in the rough and tumble of those crazy years, need that emotional support the most and are getting it least.
I’m not saying we need candy and hugs. We just need to be validated, to know that we’re okay, and to know that we can always count on someone to really care about us and take us as seriously as any other adult. Don’t rely on our parents – an enormous amount of teenagers do not get adequate attention at home.
Dearest Mechanchos, one day, the teenagers you are molding will be the future parents, future shluchos, and future Klal Yisrael. Please reconsider how you treat us.