Wicked Children and Post Modern Parents

Wicked Children and Post Modern Parents

One thing I never understood in the Haggadah of Pesach. What's so wise about the Wise Son? He asks his parents, "What are all the laws that our G-d has commanded you?" He seems no better than the Wicked Son, who is criticized for excluding himself and asking "What is this Pesach service to you?" - to you and not to him. Does the Wise Son not also say "commanded you" and not him, thus excluding himself?


The Wise Son and the Wicked Son are not similar at all. They are opposites. The Wise Son asks a question. The Wicked Son isn't asking, he is mocking. He doesn't ask questions of his parents. He belittles them. It isn't his fault. He is a child of post-modern parents. Such parents don't ever tell their children what to do. Instead of giving their kids direction, they ask them questions.

"Do you want to go to bed now gorgeous?"

 "What would you like for lunch tomorrow princess?"

"Are you ready to stop poking your sister's eye out cutey-pie?"

Parents who constantly ask their children questions and give them choices are putting their children into a position of authority that they are not ready for, while undermining their own authority. More than anything else, children need boundaries. They need to be lovingly told what is right and what is wrong, what is allowed and what is forbidden. These ethical lines have to be clear and unequivocal, set down with sensitivity but without room for debate. But to give clear boundaries you have to be an authority figure, you have to carry moral weight in the eyes of your children. A parent who caves in to their kids' desires and cowers to their demands, who consults their childrens opinion on everything and always gives them options, will never command the respect needed to lay down the law for their children. Kids of such parents see themselves as the know-it-alls, and their parents as silly old people who haven't got a clue.

This is the wisdom of the Wise Child. He recognizes that his parents are the source of wisdom, not he, and so he needs to ask them questions, not the other way around. He looks to his parents for guidance, he seeks their input and their point of view, knowing that when it comes to life skills, his youthful energy and idealism are no match for the experience and mature insight of the older generation.

A wise child doesn't come from nowhere. He comes from wise parents. Ask your children too many questions and they will stop asking you any. Give your children clear direction, and they will become wise too.

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