“Parents need to know what normal teenage behavior is and when it crosses the line and requires intervention,” says Frank Buchweitz, national director of Community Services and Special Projects at the Orthodox Union (OU). Buchweitz has been bringing “Positive Jewish Parenting” workshops to the Jewish public since 2000, providing insights and advice to parents from leading Orthodox mental health professionals.
“Families face a myriad of distressing issues today,” says Stephen J. Savitsky, OU president. “The OU acknowledged the need for educational programs that could provide parents with the tools to address these challenges.”
The first such workshop, held at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun in Manhattan in January 2000, featured keynote speaker Rabbi Dr. Abraham J. Twerski, an expert on drug and alcohol rehabilitation and Jewish Action columnist, and met with immediate success. Seven hundred and fifty participants heard from an array of prominent mental health professionals addressing a variety of topics, such as the impact of technology on children, raising one’s child’s self-esteem and the behavioral development of teenagers. “The purpose [of the workshop] was to address issues that parents face on a daily basis,” says Buchweitz.
Encouraged by the initial response, Buchweitz designed educational workshops to deal with practical parenting issues that affect families. Several of the programs were presented in conjunction with other community service organizations such as FEGS Health and Human Services System, the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services and the Board of Jewish Education of Greater New York.
Positive Jewish Parenting soon went national and workshops were hosted in communities such as Miami, Kansas City, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles and Toronto. “The programs are planned in conjunction with the communities” and are tailored to each community’s needs, says Buchweitz. “The bottom line is: by helping to educate ourselves, we’re helping our kids.”
“It’s critical that we educate ourselves so that we can perform well in one of the most important jobs we will ever have—being a parent,” says Emanuel J. Adler, chairman of the OU’s Community & Synagogue Services.
For information on how to arrange a Positive Jewish Parenting program in your community, call 212-613-8188.