Mishmeres HaSholom: Ask the Rav

Q:One of the key middos in interpersonal relationships in general, and shemiras halashon in particular, is vatranus. My daughter is a good-natured child who gives in easily and the mussar and stories she hears on the topic encourage her to be mevater even more. Intuitively, I sense that her friends are using her selflessness to their advantage, and it seems she has developed pushover characteristics. Perhaps these are symptoms of a psychological issue and she should be trained to protect herself and be assertive.

Before I address her problem, I would like to have defined boundaries regarding the extent to which vatranus should be encouraged.

A:The middah of vatranus is limitless; more is better. If concessions stem from an inner strength and a conscious decision to follow Chazal’s teachings to be maavir al hamiddos, then the one who concedes will merit infinite reward, her sins will be forgiven, and she has only to benefit. Fortunate are the parents who raise children who are mevater! But, when vatranus has its roots in psychological weakness or lack of self-esteem, parents must either address the issue on their own or seek professional guidance. Observe a child’s social skills, oral expression, and academic accomplishments at various opportunities, and inadequacies in the abovementioned skills will emerge. When in doubt, seek advice of the educators who are familiar with your child.