Observant Child in Non-Observant Family

August 18, 2011

2 min read


I’m 15 years old and have really gotten into Judaism. The problem is that my parents (who are both Jewish) think that religion is bad. I started wearing a kippah and they freaked out. Keeping Shabbat is nearly impossible at my house, with the TV blaring and the pressure to drive with them to the beach on Saturday.

This is starting to cause fights. I’m ready to either give up or move out. What do you suggest?

The Aish Rabbi Replies

Your position at the moment is definitely not a comfortable one and you do need to find ways to make it better. Unfortunately, your options are somewhat limited. It is not in your best interest to pick fights with your parents and whatever you can do to be discreet should be done. For instance, could you wear a cap instead of a kippah?

In addition to the mitzvahs you are obligated to perform – Shabbat, kashrut, etc. – don’t forget the mitzvah of honoring your parents, which means being respectful at all times, and showing lots of gratitude and appreciation for every little thing! This will certainly make them less resentful of your observance.

Another important thing: Give your parents a chance to see how your observance directly increases the quality of your relationship. For example, write them a note and buy flowers – for no special occasion. Once they see the correlation, and how your Jewish involvement is "good for them" – in a practical, everyday sense – then they are bound to be more encouraging and interested.

Also, it would be a big help if you could find a place outside your home that would provide a "comfort zone," where you can freely express your Judaism. If you let us know where you live we can recommend someone in your city who can help.

Finally, I would add that through experience I have seen that in 95% of the cases, parents who are initially resistant to their child becoming religious, eventually come to accept it, appreciate it, and often embrace it for themselves as well. It may take a few years, but I believe it will happen. So hang in there.

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