Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Skinned Knees

I am re-reading an excellent parenting book called Blessing of a Skinned Knee: Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Self-Reliant Children, by Wendy Mogel.  I'm not Jewish, and not religious at all, really.  However, I found many of the philosophies in this book to be intelligent, rational, and inspiring.  I find that the author's ideas which are drawn from her relationship with God can be analogous to my feelings about our roles as humans in the world in general.  There are many memorable lessons throughout the book, but I find myself most often reflecting on those alluded to in the book's title.  Life is messy and challenging.  Kids need to get those inevitable scrapes and bruises in order to learn how to deal with the world.  They need to see from experience that they can fall down, and then pick themselves up to continue moving forward.

I will share a selection of quotations from the book below.  I highly recommend reading the whole book.

  "The current trend is to shield children from emotional or physical discomfort." (p 25)

  "By sanctifying the most mundane aspects of the here and now, it teaches us that there is greatness not just in grand and glorious achievements but in our small, everyday efforts and deeds." (p 26)

  "The purpose of having children and raising them to be self-reliant, compassionate adults is to ensure that there will be people here to honor God after we are gone.  So the rules regarding child-rearing are not primarily about making children feel good, but about making children into good people." (p27)

  "According to Jewish thought, parents should not expect their children to be anyone other than who they are.  A Hasidic teaching says, "If your child has a talent to be a baker, don't ask him to be a doctor." (p 31)

  "A paradox of parenting is that if we love our children for their own sake rather than for their achievements, it's more likely that they will reach their true potential." (p 47)

  "The theory of cognitive behaviorism holds that feelings follow behavior.  In other words, rather than wait for your children to feel like being agreeable, you can teach them habits of politeness.  If you and they use polite phrases every day, feelings of gratitude and respect can grow out of your behavior. (p 58)

  "By giving them a chance to survive some danger and letting them make some reckless or thoughtless choices, we teach them how to withstand the bumps and knocks of life.  This is the only way children will mature into resilient, self-reliant adults." (p 71)

  "Real protection means teaching children to manage risks on their own, not shielding them from every hazard." (p 74)

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