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    In the May 31, 2022
    issue, Mishpacha
    Magazine posed the
    following question and
    invited me and others to

    My oldest son is a smart and energetic eight-
    year-old. He does well in school, and his rebbi

    says the boys in the class like him. But at

    home he acts very differently. He has a hair-
    trigger temper, often having meltdowns when

    things don’t go his way, and lashing out at me
    or his younger siblings. The intensity of his
    tantrums frighten me.
    I want to send him to therapy to help him
    learn healthier ways to respond when
    frustrated and to discover if there’s anything
    more worrisome at the root of all this anger.
    But my husband is completely unfazed by
    our son’s behavior. He tells me that many boys
    get angry easily, and he’s adamant that his son
    does not need therapy. When I point out
    examples of my son’s inappropriate reactions,
    he just shrugs and tells me he’ll grow out of it.
    I’m worried that without help, this will spiral
    into even more dysfunctional behavior as he
    gets older.

    Do I force the issue and have it become a
    conflict between my husband and me, or
    should I just hope his behavior will change as
    he gets older?
    My Answer:
    Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky once ran into a
    talmid and inquired about how he was doing.
    The young man gave a krechtz, explaining
    that his child had kept him up several nights in
    a row. “Tzaar gidul banim,” he sighed. The
    great gadol turned to his talmid and said,
    “That isn’t tzaar gidul banim, the pain of child
    rearing, it is just gidul banim, child rearing.”
    The essential question, the point of debate
    between the two of you is: When do behaviors,
    thought patterns, or phobias rise to the level of
    a clinical diagnoses, and when are they
    normative and regular? When do they need
    intervention and treatment, and when do we
    assume the person exhibiting them will grow
    out of them? When are they gidul banim, and
    when are they tzaar gidul banim?
    The line between outlier behavior that should
    be cause for concern and more standard
    behavior, where there’s nothing to be
    particularly worried about, is often very fine
    and difficult to see. But here’s the thing that I
    believe you must try to communicate to your
    husband: If you observed your child frequently

    losing his balance or experiencing dizziness,
    would you dismiss it as a growing pain,
    something he will grow out of? Or would you
    — at minimum — seek the opinion of a
    physician, asking a qualified and trained
    person to make that judgment?
    What is true for physical imbalance or spatial
    dizziness is equally true for mental imbalance
    and emotional dizziness. Though shalom
    bayis is a core value and you correctly should
    be committed to harmony with your husband,
    when it comes to your child’s physical,
    mental, and emotional health, there must be
    no shame, no stigma, and no hesitation in
    impressing upon him the importance of
    asking an expert and deferring to the
    guidance you receive.
    The Torah tells us (Shemos 21:19) “verapo
    yerapei — and shall cause him to be healed,”
    from which the Gemara (Berachos 60a)
    learns, “mi’kan she’nitein reshus l’rofei
    l’rapos — from here we learn that permission
    is granted to a doctor to heal.” In other
    words, the practice of medicine, seeking out
    the treatment of a doctor, is consistent with
    the will of Hashem. Why would we think it
    isn’t? Rashi (Bava Kama 85b) explains, “I
    might have thought that if someone is ill,
    physically or mentally, that is what Hashem
    wants, and we are obligated to accept it. So
    the Torah tells us no, Hashem has given
    doctors license and responsibility to heal.”
    The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Dei’ah 336:1),
    goes even further and writes, “The Torah has
    given permission to the doctor to heal. It is a
    mitzvah to do so and part of pikuach nefesh.
    If a doctor refuses to do so, he is guilty of
    bloodshed.” Many poskim, including the
    Tzitz Eliezer (12:18:8) and Rav Asher Weiss
    (Minchas Asher 2:134), apply the halachic
    principles and rules of physical health to
    mental health.
    So, in the case of your question — are these
    ordinary tantrums, incidents of adolescent
    impetuousness, or is there clinical anger and
    rage? — a competent doctor must make that
    determination. Even if it is awkward or
    outside your comfort zone, for your son’s

    well-being, you should get to the bottom of
    the behavior.
    How should you convince your husband?
    You should communicate in a non-adversarial
    way, engaging and positioning your husband
    as your partner, on the same side and part of
    one team, equally devoted to your son’s
    wellbeing. You should implore him to help.
    Follow your maternal instinct on this issue;
    though your husband may be right that this is
    something your son will grow out of, it is fair
    and reasonable for you to want a professional
    to endorse that. After all, if he’s right, there is
    no harm in having an expert say there is
    nothing more to do. But if he is wrong, your
    son will pay a price by his indifference and
    passiveness. You should calmly communicate
    that you’re asking him to partner and respect
    you on this, not only for the sake of your son,
    but also for the sake of you shalom bayis, to
    preserve the harmony that is good for you,
    your son, and the whole family.
    If or when he goes along, your husband must
    not let your son know he’s doing so
    begrudgingly or under protest. The ben sorer
    u’moreh, the rebellious child, is described by
    the Torah as einenu sho’meiah b’kol aviv
    u’v’kol imo, he doesn’t listen to the voice of
    his father and the voice of his mother. Why
    doesn’t the Torah simply say he doesn’t listen
    to the voice of his father and mother? Why
    does it repeat the word “voice” for each?
    Commentators explain that part of what
    contributes to a rebellious child is inconsistent
    messaging from his parents. When a child
    hears different voices from his father and
    mother, when he perceives daylight between
    them, he is often lost, confused, and becomes
    Confronting potential challenges with our
    children can push us apart or make us grow
    closer together. The choice of having parenting
    problems or compounding them with marital
    strife is up to us. If we are committed to speak
    with one voice, to respect each other’s
    opinions but defer to outside guidance when
    we don’t agree, we can not only do what is
    best for our children but develop a better
    marriage in the process.