March 30, 2020

More Difficult Conversations

My post “Helping Families Have the Most Difficult Conversation” (December 31, 2013) touched a sensitive chord with many people. In that blog I encourageed adult children and their parents to talk openly about the most difficult and challenging of life’s transitions at the end of life.  See

After reading the first blog, a good friend suggested that I address other difficult conversations as well. I thought he had a good idea, and so in the coming weeks I will address each of these themes below, and where possible, to cite Jewish text and values.

A disclaimer – I am not a psychologist, though working in synagogues over the past 40 years as a student rabbi and then an ordained rabbi I have addressed these issues in one way or another many times.

Here are the issues (to be addressed in no particular order) that I will discuss going forward:

•       How to best discuss death, divorce and sex with children

•       How to talk about God with children whether we are believers or not

•       How to share bad news

•       How to tell those who behave unethically and mean-spiritedly the truth about what they do and the impact they have on others

•       What to say to those with addiction problems

•       How to deal with the person who is always right, never wrong, and resistant to apologizing when wrong

•       How to be a friend to those with serious illness

•       What to do and say to those who self-reference in every conversation

•       What to say when others make racist, sexist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic comments in a business or social setting, or to you personally

I hope these blogs will stimulate us to address those difficult interpersonal issues and issues that come up among friends and in the workplace that we have avoided or done badly.

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