I just finished reading this really great parenting book: The Blessing of a Skinned Knee: Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Self-Reliant Children by Wendy Mogel. It’s a bit more religious than I am and relies a bit more on Jewish traditions than I could or would, but the overall message applies to all faiths and beliefs.
A couple of my favorite passages:
The Talmud sums up the Jewish perspective on child-rearing in a single sentence: “A father is obligated to teach his son how to swim.” Jewish wisdom holds that our children don’t belong to us. They are both a loan and a gift from God, and the gift has strings attached. Our job is to raise our children to leave us. The children’s job is to find their own path in life. If they stay carefully protected in the nest of the family, children will become weak and fearful or feel too comfortable to want to leave.
And from another place in the book:
Our attempts to prepare our children for the future are limited by our own imaginations of what the future will be like. We’re apprehensive, but our children are not. The high-tech, rapidly changing world that seems so mind-bending to us is normal to them. “Preparing” our children for this new world by turning them into supercomptetitive generalists is useless because we can’t second-guess the skills they will need twenty years from now. The only things that are certain to be valuable are character traits such as honesty, tenacity, flexibility, optimism, and compassion — the same traits that have served people well for centuries.
So true. I liked how the book really celebrated the everyday traditions, small moments each family shares – sitting down to dinner together or taking the time to just hang out and do nothing as a family. It also talked a lot about teaching children to respect their parents and to be nice to the crazy neighbor lady, even if it’s hard to do.
I haven’t read a lot of parenting books so far, but this is definitely a keeper. Highly recommended – even if you are not Jewish.