Our sages teach that all Jews are responsible for one another (Shevuos 39b). That responsibility has an impact on the laws of shmiras haloshon as well. The Chofetz Chaim teaches us that to the extent that we can influence others to observe these all-important laws, we are responsible to do so.
He uses the example of a man who stands at the head of his household. His responsibility in the area of shmiras haloshon extends to his wife and children. Certainly a mother, too, must actively educate and correct her family members regarding shmiras haloshon. The Chofetz Chaim cites a Talmudic teaching that one who has the ability to chastise the members of his household, but refrains from doing so, will be held responsible for their deeds (Shabbos 54b). A parent’s responsibility is awesome.
Let no one think, however, that this is the charge of parents alone. Every Jew must seek to eradicate the sin of loshon hora from his surroundings. The Chofetz Chaim states that children should not allow loshon hora spoken by their parents to go unnoticed. Of course, parents must be addressed with sensitivity and great respect. Often, a rav (rabbi) should be consulted regarding the proper approach to use. The Chofetz Chaim stresses that children who choose to turn a blind eye to their parents’ loshon hora will be held responsible, as will their parents.
There is one overriding rule to bear in mind whenever rebuke is in order. Speak gently, says the Chofetz Chaim. To turn our homes into battlefields will only be counterproductive. Gentle reproof is the only formula for achieving positive results.
The Chofetz Chaim has one final piece of advice. As the saying goes, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” Children learn most from observing their parents’ behavior. It is crucial that parents set a good example by avoiding all forms of forbidden speech in conversation. Then, their children will see shmiras haloshon as a way of life.
Our children’s Torah education is our national treasure. Parents make great personal sacrifices to pay for Torah education, driven by the yearning that their children should grow to be Jews who are devoted to Hashem and His Torah. To a great extent, the education of our children takes place within the confines of our homes. If we live according to the Torah’s teachings in all areas of life, then we can expect that our children will follow in our footsteps, in their relationship with Hashem and with their fellow man.