I was recently sent this very brief video, which depicts the often ugly and irreversible ramifications of children not getting adequate attention from their parents. I have personally witnessed too many such cases in both the Jewish and non-Jewish world, and I therefore feel a strong obligation to share this video and its critically important message.
Some people might have the impression that since Jewish religious life centers heavily on family, kids will pretty much automatically receive the attention they need. This is of course not true, as without concerted effort, children very easily fall between the cracks.
The Shabbos table is among the best illustrations of this principle. Although family meals are definitely one of the best ways to bond, our Shabbos tables often become busier than Grand Central Station, with multiple conversations occurring simultaneously, people struggling to get in a word, and guests whose interests readily become the primary focus of discussion, to the exclusion of anything else. (This is a whole topic on its own, but I must emphasize that aside from the fact that parents should prioritize their children’s need for attention above that of guests (absent unusual circumstances), guests should respect the needs of a family’s children to communicate with their parents. I have witnessed guests at Shabbos meals interrupt children, monopolize conversations so that children and parents cannot speak, and even stop children in the middle of answering questions from their parsha (weekly Torah portion) sheets, as these guests took over and interjected with their own “kashes and teirutzim” (questions and answers)!) Guests should we welcomed, but it is critical to maintain a proper and healthy balance with family dynamics.
We must be extremely proactive and vigilant in ensuring that our children remain our primary focus. The results of failure in this regard are tragic, and they impact both children and parents forever.