January 29, 2007 08:48 PM by Joe Reality
No matter what it is that’s tearing a family apart, Rabbi Shmuley
Boteach, renowned author, columnist, and star of radio and television,
is not afraid to tackle the most complex family relationships in order
to help families heal. In his new book, SHALOM IN THE HOME: Smart
Advice for a Peaceful Life, Rabbi Shmuley provides an in-depth,
behind-the-scenes look at his work with ten families featured on his
TLC television show of the same name, delving into problems such as
adultery, teenage sex, self esteem, toxic relationships, sexual
intimacy, divorce, cultural pressures, and the effects all these issues
have on the family.
Insightful and candid, Rabbi Shmuley does not hold back as he gets to the root of destructive relationships, household dynamics, and parenting, yet his style is also remarkably compassionate and understanding. Some of the lessons and “Shmuleyisms” he shares with readers are:
**Adultery destroys families, not just marriages.
**Don’t allow sexual intimacy and time together as a couple to be a casualty of a growing family.
**Even when a family has been pulled apart irreconcilably, parents must find common ground so that they can continue to parent together. After a divorce, no matter how painful, the right choice is always what’s best for the kids – even if that conflicts with what’s best for the adults.
**Rules are an essential part of parenting. Children do not benefit from a life without boundaries. Children do not belong in the marital bed!
**Teenage sexual activity doesn’t just expose children to pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease. It robs them of their precious childhoods.
**Married couples need to know how to fight – in a way that does as little damage as possible.
**Fighting in front of the children brings chaos, rather than peace, to their center.
In SHALOM IN THE HOME, Rabbi Shmuley re-examines his experiences with families from the show’s first season – recounting the process of interviewing and videotaping family situations and then the analysis and counseling that ensued. Each chapter offers insight and life lessons that all couples can identify with and use to create harmony in their own homes. “Shalom (peace in Hebrew) does not mean that there will never be problems or conflict,” he says. “It does mean that you and your family can deal as a team with whatever issues you may have, so that everyone learns from the experience and you all draw closer as a result.”
More often than not, parents call in Rabbi Shmuley to “fix a kid,” but he often finds himself focusing on the parents’ marriage instead, reaffirming his long-held belief that successful parenting stems from a strong, healthy relationship between the parents. For example, the Maxwells had asked for Rabbi Shmuley’s help with their three-year-old son Zachary’s bedtime. Without fail, the unpleasant ritual took several tear-filled hours every night, ending with Zachary in bed with Mom – and Dad on the couch. And though they may not have realized it, Zachary’s sovereign rule over the household was straining his parents’ relationship. Rabbi Shmuley is adamant that a healthy sexual relationship between husband and wife is key to a healthy family. “Children should solidify rather than obstruct the marital relationship – and that can’t happen if parents draw no boundaries with their kids,” says Rabbi Shmuley.
An orthodox rabbi, Rabbi Shmuley also has steadfast views on teenage dating and sex. He is strongly against it. The Romeros were a shattered family when the rabbi first met them, dealing with the repercussions of an extramarital affair and a subsequent divorce. The children were fighting viciously – both verbally and physically – despite the best efforts of their mother, and tensions escalated even further when both parents learned that their sixteen-year-old daughter was sexually involved with her boyfriend. Rabbi Shmuley says, “When a teenage girl doesn’t have a father around to tell her she’s beautiful and special, she usually finds a hormonal, pimply youth whose roving hands give her the worst kind of validation.” Ultimately, he helped the parents realize that even if they could not live together as husband and wife, they could still parent as a team and show their united disapproval of their daughter’s relationship.
“I have tried to help families rededicate themselves to building a peace-filled family life – not by humiliating them with their past mistakes but by alerting them to the glory of their future potential,” says Rabbi Shmuley. Packed with emotion and drama, SHALOM IN THE HOME shows readers how to bring joy into their marital relationships and parent/child relationships, thereby making home a place to escape to – not escape from.