Carry on My Fragile Son

Carry on My Fragile Son

by Daniel R. Weiss

Last night more than 250 people came to Bornblum for a seminar led by Grace McLaren of First Responder Coaching. With a desire to learn ways to help those in our lives who are fragile, we learned from Grace about contributing factors that may cause someone to be fragile and how to take those who are surrounded by darkness and help them move into the light.

Among the words that Grace shared, was how to react to a child, whose head is filled with the noise of struggle and who turns around and reacts harshly to their friend, either by yelling at them or hitting them. What caused the child to act that way?

In this week’s Torah portion, Ki Teytzei, we read about the wayward child (Deuteronomy 21:18) and the relationship of a parent and child. If a man has a wayward and defiant son, who does not heed his father or mother and does not obey them even after they discipline him…

In their 1976 hit, Carry on My Wayward Son, Kansas suggests instead of reacting harshly to a wayward child (as is suggested in the words of this week’s Parsha), we should respond with compassion.

Carry on my wayward son.
There’ll be peace when you are done.
Lay your weary head to rest.
Don’t you cry no more.

Masquerading as a man with a reason,
My charade is the event of the season.
And if I claim to be a wise man,
Well, it surely means that I don’t know.
On a stormy sea of moving emotion,
Tossed about, I’m like a ship on the ocean.
I set a course for winds of fortune,
but I hear the voices say.

Carry on my wayward son,
There’ll be peace when you are done.
Lay your weary head to rest,
Don’t you cry no more.

How do we help our children find peace with the pressures that surround them, to deal with the stormy sea of moving emotion? How do we teach resilience while at the same time work to make sure that we alleviate as much anxiety as possible?

One of our teachers, Rachael Rovner, designed a great exercise for her students. She has two scales that she shows the students. She asks them to identify on a scale of 1-10 how big of a problem it is. A ten signifies that I will still be bothered by this in 5 years. A 1 signifies that I’ll still be bothered by it in 5 minutes. The other scale is for how I reacted. Ten is an explosive reaction. One is not much a reaction at all. I should not be at a 10, when the problem is only a 4.

Whether you are a parent or a grandparent or just someone who cares about others, you can use Grace’s language and techniques to help those around you. By using a common language in school and out, we can work together to ensure the safety of our children.

The Talmud (Shavuot 39a) teaches Kol Yisrael Aravim Zeh B’Zeh, All of Israel is responsible for one another. May this be a shabbat of peace and a time of renewed commitment to Look, See, Ask, Tell and Do for the fragile among us.

Shabbat Shalom,


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