WWYD – Minyan

It’s summer time and the living is easy. Well, easier than getting the kids up and off to school every day. The pace is more relaxed – life is less stressful. That being said, we never forget that we are religious Jews, and our religious practice still dictates the same things that they do in school time.

I have two boys over barmitzvah, one 9 months away from “becoming a man”. The KoD goes to shul every morning, to daven (pray) with a minyan (a quorum of ten men over the age of 13). I expect the same of my oldest two – and there is a later minyan than the 7 am one the KoD goes too. There is one at 8 am throughout the summer.

How much do I push for them to go? Shouldn’t this be something that should be their choice, or should I expect it of them and do my darndest to drag their tired selves out of bed? They can daven at home, but it is so much better to daven with a minyan.

What do you do with your teenage boys in this regard? What worked for you as a teenage observant boy? What are your thoughts?

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  1. I heard R. Cherlow answer this question once. He said, more or less, that you can push/encourage minyan (and other religious practices) unless/until it turns into a battle. In other words, it’s important, but the child is an independent being and makes his own choices. Ensuring a positive relationship with the parent is paramount.

  2. batya from NJ says:

    i think that most teenage kids will not want to go on their own volition to minyan especially when they are on vacation from school & i speak from experience. my own 15 year old who is a very sweet child would much rather stay in bed late rather than be woken up early to go to minyan. that said, i try to take him to the latest minyan in town which begins at 8:50 daily when he has no school. i start the waking process at around 8am & often times he is still not ready to leave by 8:45 but i try to take him there as close as possible to the starting time so that he doesn’t arrive too late. the whole 40 minutes or so that i am trying to wake him is a frustrating process b/c sometimes he starts the waking process & if i don’t follow up constantly with him, he will fall back asleep so it is a challenge. at the end of July, it will be more of a challenge when he begins his summer job in a day camp every day & will need to be ready for an 8:15 bus that will take him to a non-local camp. he will need to go to a 7am minyan & i’m not sure how that will work out. it’s possible that he will just end of davening at home b/c realistically i don’t see it working for me to take him to shul to be there at 7 cuz that would mean waking him up earlier than i wake him during the school yr which L-rd knows is challenging enough for me & for him :(!

    in my opinion, when he is working this summer & may not be able to make it to minyan, i will be happy if he at least is sure to daven from home which is IMO preferable to not davening at all…

    regarding your boys, since they do not have to be at any jobs, it may pay to look into the latest minyanim in town that you can take them to but as i write this i realize that may not be feasible b/c you may not have a car available to drive them & you may not be able to b/c of your job that you have recently started…

    i will just end this by saying that i think it’s important to encourage kids to go to shul & to daven but of course if it becomes a major struggle it may end up being counter-productive…if it’s any consolation, don’t think that you’re the only mom of boys who are not rushing to get out to shul in the morning b/c you most certainly are not.

  3. Gently encourage them, but don’t push them. Teenage boys need sleep. I still resent having been forced to get to minyan early some 25 years ago. And I resented my parents for it. Let them be kids.

  4. Risa says:

    I never forced anyone to go to minyan and it’s hard as mother to do that (since you yourself don’t). It’s another thing though to expect that they do daven somewhere and make it known that it’s vacation from school not from religious observance.

  5. Too much is expected of frum teenage boys today. They’re expected to be in school for far more hours than their secular counterparts or even than their sisters. Many schools expect them to stay late on Thursday nights for “mishmor” learning. And they expect them to be at school at 7:15 AM for shacharit every morning. When do they get fresh air? Daylight? The Yeshiva system makes ridiculously unreasonable demands of boys, because there’s social pressure do get them to develop into “tamidei chachamim”. But they’re not built for that kind of pressure or schedule. No wonder there are so many “off the derech” kids.

    Your kids have a couple of months to be kids. Let them. Don’t force them into a mold that they’ll just resent you for for years to come.

  6. Shira says:

    I don’t force. My teen always chooses to sleep in. What can I do? I don’t think prayer can be forced. You can encourage and explain, that’s about it. Once they are in their teen years, it’s paramount to pick your battles. It’s also paramount to stay on good terms.

  7. I think the best is to have a role model who goes. When it’s the norm, without hysterics, no need for hysterics that’s best.
    To get into the habit there’s always bribery. A post-minyan breakfast treat after each 100% week.
    I wish I had thought of it when my kids were young.

  8. Rabbi's Wife says:

    I think I’ll start mine going to minyan a lot earlier, but that seems to be the norm in our community. Most boys start going to shul with their parent or step-parent at about 8.

  9. Z! says:

    I understand that davening with a minyan is important. Why not encourage them to CHOOSE one davening a day to be performed with a minyan during the summer? (or do they always go to mincha and maariv with a minyan? Chances are, they’ll opt for a later davening, mincha or maariv, but they will be davening with a minyan.

  10. kisarita says:

    A few suggestions:

    1. Go to shul yourself.

    2. Give them tons of chores to do since they’re home anyway.

    3. Don’t sweat it.

  11. Hadass Eviatar says:

    In my family, I am the one who goes to minyan. In fact, I wear tallit and tefillin and lead the davvening every Sunday morning. Yea, it is an egalitarian Conservative community, and I am one of the few who keep Shabbat, kashrut and TH. Hope you ladies will still talk to me ;-).

    • batya from NJ says:

      hadass, kol hakavod to you that you keep shabbat, kashrut & TH! so many who consider themselves to be Conservative Jews are really un-affiliated or minimally affiliated which is sad. i remember hearing that the Conservative community has become very polarized with it’s members either leaning more towards the Reform movement or “Conservadox”-more towards Orthodoxy but then again, the same can be said about the modern Orthodox community as well (that it is not really “centrist” anymore b/c it’s members are also polarized-veering either more to the right or more to the left religiously.

      I, who just like to consider myself “regular” mainstream Orthodox (not modern orthodox & not ultra-orthodox) has personally never felt any need to participate in an egalitarian service. I don’t feel any resentment or envy that i can’t lead the davening or read the torah in an my Orthodox shul. In fact, for me it’s more of a relief but I commend you for your connection to Judaism & being so involved in your congregation!

      • kisarita says:

        I can’t speak for hadass but I found this response quite patronizing.

        • batya from NJ says:

          Kisarita, you are right in that you can’t speak for Hadass!!

          My response was in no way being patronizing just merely stating my opinion that I respect her for her commitment to Judaism even if it may differ from mine.

    • HSaboMilner says:

      Hadass – Kol HaKavod Lach!

    • lady lock and load says:

      Hadass, if you have children over the age of bar or bat mitzvah, do you wake them for prayer services?

      • Hadass Eviatar says:

        Thanks for the responses! It’s OK, I have had this conversation with many O people and received considerably less positive responses ;-). I have to say that my journey towards observance began with being counted in the minyan and learning how to lay tefillin, read Torah and leading davvening. Before that I did not feel welcome in shul.

        Yes, I have a 14 y/o son. I only wake him if we are short of 10 people. The few times I have done this, he has got up and got himself to shul without complaint (of course we live walking distance from shul). I try not to abuse his willingness.

  12. RubyV says:

    Let them take responsibility for themselves. I agree with Rabba bar bar Chana. The people I know who have gone OTD were usually resentful of having their autonomy taken away and felt horribly restricted.

    They know what their dad and stepdad do, and when and how. Religion should never be a battle of wills. Let them sleep and enjoy their summer while they davven from home. You are only young once.

  13. jean says:

    How about seeing if the shul will encourage a teen-focused minyan? or have a minyan on certain day(s) of the week that are especially welcoming to teens? Maybe one where they even lead. It doesn’t even have to be every day. Maybe the boys will enjoy going to be with their peers, and perhaps have some brekkies after :)

    LOL, I just remembered that in summer camp no one liked to get up at whatever crazy cold hour tha t was– esp to jump in a cold lake — but we did!

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