I do not consider myself an “expert” on anything. What I do feel is that I have a great deal of experience as an educator and as a parent which makes me very knowledgeable about how to do both of those things. I like to read and am always open to learning new things from others and from my children. I am especially passionate about giving children strong rules and guidelines when they are young, as it makes it easier for you when they are older. I always tell parents that you know you have done a good job when others compliment you on your child’s behavior either at school or at an event. My children can drive me crazy, but I always know they will use manners and be what I like to say is a “mensch” or good person outside the home. We as parents are preparing children to make their own life images. The book Blessing of a Skinned Knee by Wendy Mogel, Ph.D delves into our jobs as parents. She says, “Why we are training our children that everything is replaceable, that all their deeds are worth glowing accolades, and that we exist as their personal concierge service?” I ask as well why we have as parents decided that our children do not need to feel what it is like to be hurt, angry, sad, bored, and frustrated and teach them to learn how to deal with those feelings. We are doing our children a grave injustice. I have a friend who is struggling with her son because she did not set ground rules and limits when he was young and now he is having trouble self regulating, socializing, and being empathetic. I advised her to set limits and have consequences. Two years later she is seeing a behavior therapist who is giving her the same advice. When did we forget how to say “No”?
I found a quote by Brad Hirschfield, the author of You Don’t Have to Be Wrong For Me To Be Right that struck me, “Great parents are like coaches who teach drills and raise the skill level of their players, but know when it comes to playing the game the players must take the field for themselves.” Isn’t it our job to get our children ready to play on their own?
For more insightful reading, I highly recommend this article “Six Values for Raising Outstanding Children”. While it’s written by a Rabbi, it’s clearly applicable to children and families of all faiths.
What do you feel is most important when raising your children to be productive and valued members of society?