Interview by Gérard Chlomo Alimi
In this work, prefaced by the Grand Rabbi Haïm Korisa, the Doctor Alain Haddad offers us ideas for understanding the sometimes difficult relationships with our own children. While drawing his inspiration from the thought of the Elders of Judaism, the author, a psychiatrist, enlightens us with a universal vision, based on his experience in a hospital and personal environment as well as his commitment to helping dislocated families, struck by trials. A man of the field, Dr. Haddad, who today shares his life between Paris and Jerusalem, chaired the Jewish Action Service for Health Education (SAJES).
He went to meet young people in schools and high schools, explain to them all the addictions, and more broadly, all the risks that threaten them on a daily basis. This book, with great finesse, opens up paths for reflection to respond with serenity and sensitivity to the various manifestations, even the most complex, of our children. It teaches parents and children alike to assume their responsibilities and to mutually set the limits that each must respect to ensure family harmony. Responsibility and respect help children find their way, despite much trial and error, which will lead them to greater maturity.
Why did you write this book today after a well-started professional career?
Dr. Alain Haddad: This book was made very gradually over several years from articles published in a journal specializing in Jewish education. This newspaper was called IGUIRET HAHINOUH. It was created by Rav Guédalia who was, among other things, Rabbi of a community and director of Collel in Paris.
It was he who proposed the themes and I developed them according to my professional experience as a child psychiatrist and psychoanalyst.
The themes addressed, for Jewish teenagers in particular, I have also encountered them among teenagers from other communities and they adapt in the same way to identical situations. This is what the Chief Rabbi of France, Rav Haïm Korsia, remarked in his preface.
Is this book an educational tool?
Dr. AH: This book is not strictly speaking a book on education, I am not an educator but it was during my consultations as a child psychiatrist that I tried to analyze with the parents what were the origins of the symptoms of children they brought to me. When the parents were well disposed towards this work, which requires a certain psychological maturity, the symptoms got better very quickly.
It happened to me to treat disorders of children and even of very young children apparently very serious and that they are regulated in two or three sessions.
Do you think that education in a Jewish family today is different from education in a non-Jewish family?
Dr. AH: I don’t think Jewish education is any different from non-Jewish education. What is different are the choices of the parents when it comes to the values they want to transmit.
The psychic mechanisms are the same.
Freud in particular developed principles which he established as universal, such as the Oedipus complex or the prohibition against incest. He highlighted the notion of taboo. Other psychoanalysts dealing with children have shown the importance of strong parent-child and especially mother-child bonds during the child’s first days. They developed the notion of limit as constituting psychic maturity.
Do you think we can easily get rid of many addictions?
Dr. AH: Today society tends to trivialize or destroy all the social principles that have forged our societies, and our children, if their points of reference are contrary to what we have transmitted to them, will be in a situation of suffering. For example if their friends go out, drink a little alcohol, smoke and they are not allowed to. Then follow rebellions, crises of self-isolation, etc.
Doesn’t the role devolved to Jewish parents by the Torah risk breaking the family harmony so much desired?
Dr. AH: No. The Torah and the teaching of well-taught and well-understood recognized masters of the Talmud are tools among others for prevention and education in today’s society.
Interview by Gerard Chlomo ALIMI