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The Blessing of a Skinned Knee: Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Self-Reliant Children

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A clinical psychologist and Jewish educator use the Torah and other Jewish texts to offer psychological and practical insights into parenting and sharing practical advice on how to develop realistic expectations for each child, teach respect for adults, deal with frustration, enhance independence, and more.


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A clinical psychologist and Jewish educator use the Torah and other Jewish texts to offer psychological and practical insights into parenting and sharing practical advice on how to develop realistic expectations for each child, teach respect for adults, deal with frustration, enhance independence, and more.

30 review for The Blessing of a Skinned Knee: Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Self-Reliant Children

  1. 5 out of 5

    Hafidha

    When Dr. Mogel, a clinical psychologist, decided - after marriage and two children - to embrace her religious heritage, one of the outcomes was this book. She impressively combines Jewish teachings with old school common sense and "progressive" values. This is one of the best parenting books I've come across. Mogel places a lot of emphasis on the parent taking a look at their own behavior and correcting dysfunctional patterns, establishing order, being consistent, acting with authority and self- When Dr. Mogel, a clinical psychologist, decided - after marriage and two children - to embrace her religious heritage, one of the outcomes was this book. She impressively combines Jewish teachings with old school common sense and "progressive" values. This is one of the best parenting books I've come across. Mogel places a lot of emphasis on the parent taking a look at their own behavior and correcting dysfunctional patterns, establishing order, being consistent, acting with authority and self-restraint over themselves, and so on. Straight forward, easy to read, well-organized, well-written, with practical examples for how to implement the various lessons. It covers executive functioning, simplicity, discipline, balancing safety with freedom, over scheduling, food pickiness, and other hot button parenting issues in its own way. The first blessing chapter, "The Blessing of a Unique and Ordinary Child" is all about humbling the parent reader, as she warns us against common parenting mindsets that can be disastrous for our children (e.g. living through our children, trying to force them to fulfill visions of who we think they are, pressuring them to succeed at everything). My favorite line from this section is, "Your child is not your masterpiece." In addition to that one, the chapters I found most relevant and useful in my personal family situation were "Blessing of Work" (chores), "Blessing of Food," and "Blessing of Self-Control." In "Blessing of Work," she writes: "... when parents insist that children do their chores, they are letting them know that they're not just loved, they are needed. Ordinary chores are the foundation of our children's character and spiritual well-being." In "Blessing of Food," she advocates moderation and celebration, and provides lots of advice for how to make mealtimes opportunities for sanctifying and expressing gratitude, rather than thoughtless, embattled, or shameful experiences. "Blessing of Self-Control" is EXCELLENT. She provides specific guidance on how to rebuke or punish a child without humiliation, AND also how to assess whether a rebuke or punishment is even necessary. The first part of the chapter is all about acknowledging your child's worst traits and learning to see them as their greatest qualities and redirecting those energies into good actions. Towards the end of chapter there is a lovely piece on giving children who have been punished an opportunity to "make amends," an important concept which is often overlooked. While children need to learn self-control, it's the parents who need to exercise it and model it, or else there is no point. I think if you read nothing else of this book, read this chapter. I intend to read it once a week until it is ingrained in my brain! The final chapter, "Blessing of Faith and Tradition," gave me a lot of food for thought. Though I'm basically an atheist and not Jewish at all, I do have concerns about my young child's spiritual grounding. She writes, "You and your family may choose a different path than that of your forebears, but if you don't want to get caught up in the anxiety, materialism, and competition all around us, you must choose some path to walk on with your children. You must name it, follow it, and plan the curriculum for their spiritual education as thoughtfully and intelligently as you plan their academic education." I have taken this to heart. I've already got a short list of things to start implementing in our household, one by one. A common theme throughout the book is the importance of actions and praxis and how these are preferable to just having nice ideas in your head while your life swirls in a chaos and your children have little respect for themselves or others. For example, in "Blessing of Having Someone to Look Up To," Mogel first explains from the Jewish perspective, why commandments on being polite are not a waste of time, or lessons in how to be inauthentic. Then she says, "In psychology, 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." She continues then to provide examples of how to help your children to be polite and give them opportunities to show courtesy and thoughtfulness in the home and outside of it. The only negative thing I can say about this book after reading it once is the author definitely assumes you are middle to upper class, educated, and have a child who is "typical" in terms of mental or cognitive ability. I think she also writes towards a Jewish audience, which is to be expected given the scope of the book, but I felt like it was very much geared towards a particular economic class - it seemed like every client or situation she referenced was very well off. I think this reflects her personal experience so it's probably best she didn't attempt to overreach, but it does seem like she is maybe living in a bubble.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    I enjoyed reading this book. Filled with seemingly common-sense guidance on raising children, I found myself noticing--more than normal--how children today don't behave (are bratty/insolent/fresh-mouthed, you get the idea) because they haven't been offered loving guidance as put forward in this book! Have you ever talked to a parent and they complain about their child's behavior and immediately follow it up with, "Well, what are you going to do?" I actually answer them by saying, "You could tell I enjoyed reading this book. Filled with seemingly common-sense guidance on raising children, I found myself noticing--more than normal--how children today don't behave (are bratty/insolent/fresh-mouthed, you get the idea) because they haven't been offered loving guidance as put forward in this book! Have you ever talked to a parent and they complain about their child's behavior and immediately follow it up with, "Well, what are you going to do?" I actually answer them by saying, "You could tell your child that they're not allowed to do that/they must say hello..." etc. Most people don't know what to say when I say that, but get real! You're the parent, it's your job to teach your child, not your job to adapt to their every whim! Alas, I digress. I wish I could gather a local group of people who have read this book and love it, then make all those people my circle of friends for play dates and kid-friendly activities. That would be great since we'd all be on the same page. I highly recommend this book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth McDonald

    This was required reading for my new job at a girls' school (which, incidentally, is not Jewish). Although I am neither Jewish nor a parent, I found this book very engrossing. I couldn't put it down, despite the fact that I was on vacation in the mountains at the time. (Well, all right, I could put it down... just not when I was, say, supposed to be going to sleep.) The author, who practiced clinical child psychology for fifteen years, reevaluates modern child-rearing practice through This was required reading for my new job at a girls' school (which, incidentally, is not Jewish). Although I am neither Jewish nor a parent, I found this book very engrossing. I couldn't put it down, despite the fact that I was on vacation in the mountains at the time. (Well, all right, I could put it down... just not when I was, say, supposed to be going to sleep.) The author, who practiced clinical child psychology for fifteen years, reevaluates modern child-rearing practice through the lens of Jewish teachings (though not for Jewish parents alone). Her overall message is, pretty much, "Stop over-pampering your child. Insist on respect. Let them make their own mistakes. Give them responsibilities, household chores, but don't give them anything they want. They will be better off for it. You are a parent, not a friend, and you are a role model." This is a message that resonates with me 112% - I found myself thinking of a few families I have run across as a teacher who could do with reading this book and taking that message to heart. Overall, I found the writing style very easy to read and friendly, and I am looking forward to the small-group discussion about the book at faculty orientation. I know that the number of parents on my Goodreads friends list here is very, very small, but I would still recommend this book to anyone who babysits, teaches, tutors, or otherwise interacts with children - or who just enjoys a parenting book now and then!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    I was reading this book for a group (of young families) at my (Episcopal) church. About a third of the way through the book I just couldn't take it anymore. While I don't necessarily disagree with her methods for raising self-reliant children---Dr. Sears' The Successful Child does a much better job than this does. And if you're looking for something focused on faith--Shalom for the Home--is excellent--and teaches much of the same stuff without annoying the hell out of you. You don't need Jewish I was reading this book for a group (of young families) at my (Episcopal) church. About a third of the way through the book I just couldn't take it anymore. While I don't necessarily disagree with her methods for raising self-reliant children---Dr. Sears' The Successful Child does a much better job than this does. And if you're looking for something focused on faith--Shalom for the Home--is excellent--and teaches much of the same stuff without annoying the hell out of you. You don't need Jewish wisdom to raise happy, healthy children. More to the point, the book stinks of a converts zeal. It's less about parenting and more how awesome she finds her new found faith---which is well and good, but it doesn't make for a book on parenting. Two things really angered me: 1. She tells a story about tolerance or welcome of a group of handicapped people while traveling in Israel with her children. She specifically says how wonderful it is that these people are welcomed and that she would have previously shielded her children from these "different" or "special" people. She clearly addresses this as a societal norm, and maybe it is. But its certainly not how I'm raising my young daughter. There are people at my church with both physical and intellectual disabilities. They are not curiosities to be enjoyed, but members of our community and family. 2. She dismisses the value of education regarding diversity and discrimination. She essentially says that there is no need to teach children to treat (specifically GLBT people or their families) people who are different with respect and dignity. Dealing with discrimination is good for building resilience....which must be easy for an uppper middle class, white, heterosexual, woman to say. She mocks the school's desire to create a "safe place" for everyone--even those suicidal gay student. As a mother, who is also a lesbian, I'll be teaching my children to respect the dignity of every human being regardless of faith, race, or disability.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sylvester

    Good, common-sense principles for raising children. Keeping an eye to the future - what kind of humans do we want our children to become? I'm not Jewish, but I found a lot of helpful thoughts in this book.

  6. 5 out of 5

    LM

    I felt like a reform Jew became conservative (as in the demonination not the definition) and spent more time at home with her own kids so she felt she had to write a book. It was about using her educated PhD psychologist expertise to defend the use of some Jewish teaching she picked and choose with little research.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Skylar Burris

    This is perhaps the best parenting book I have read to date, and I have read several. The author writes from an explicitly Jewish perspective and primarily addresses Jewish parents, but, even as someone of a different faith (Christian), I found her advice and perspectives very helpful. The section about talking about God with your children addressed the same sorts of difficulties I experience as a Christian parent. I appreciated the philosophical outlook on parenting the author presented: the em This is perhaps the best parenting book I have read to date, and I have read several. The author writes from an explicitly Jewish perspective and primarily addresses Jewish parents, but, even as someone of a different faith (Christian), I found her advice and perspectives very helpful. The section about talking about God with your children addressed the same sorts of difficulties I experience as a Christian parent. I appreciated the philosophical outlook on parenting the author presented: the emphasis is placed on training a child to behave appropriately, trusting that the heart and motives will follow the actions in time. This seems to me a much more realistic approach than the rather overwhelming and almost Godlike task of "Shepherding a Child's Heart" (an earlier Christian parenting book I read). I also appreciated her lesson on allowing yourself and your child to be "good enough" as well as the warning that we should not expect of our children what we would never expect of ourselves. She focuses on the importance of allowing your child to make mistakes, to suffer boredom, and even to be unhappy. The most practically useful thing I took away from this book was the detailed directions for issuing a "one minute rebuke." Her writing style is interesting and easy to read, and, unlike so many parenting books, I found "The Blessings of a Skinned Knee" to be fairly concise and well organized. Much of her advice I have found elsewhere, but I have not found it presented in such a clear, convincing, and useful manner.

  8. 4 out of 5

    John

    Not a perfect book by any means, but a really, really good one. Wendy Mogel was a clinical psychologist who found too many of her clients were, to put it impolitely, self-centered upper class secular parents looking for an excuse that explained Little Johnny's behavior problem of the week. She left her practice to lose herself in her Jewish traditions, slowly introducing them to her own secular family and transitioning herself to a career as a lecturer and writer on Jewish parenting. This book e Not a perfect book by any means, but a really, really good one. Wendy Mogel was a clinical psychologist who found too many of her clients were, to put it impolitely, self-centered upper class secular parents looking for an excuse that explained Little Johnny's behavior problem of the week. She left her practice to lose herself in her Jewish traditions, slowly introducing them to her own secular family and transitioning herself to a career as a lecturer and writer on Jewish parenting. This book encompasses most of what I love about Judaism - it's about values and family, and about being a good person, more so than strict adherence to ritual for ritual's sake. Mogel takes us through various chapters on discipline, chores, self-sufficiency, scheduling and eating habits. These are traditional parenting topics, but she has her own slant on them. To me, it seems fitting that she doesn't even talk about fitting in synagogue until the last chapter of the book. Even non-Jews would probably get a lot out of this book. just because it provides a different take on the issues addressed in most parenting books. For me, the strongest message is probably around embracing what your child IS, rather than focusing on what they aren't or what you wish they were. Either that, or just the idea of taking the time to appreciate things as they happen, and seeing the spirituality in common everyday situations.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    Mogel is a child psychologist who studied Judaism and applied it to her approach to parenting. Her basic premise is that children need limits and structure, and a place in both the family and wider community. She breaks her parenting advice into nine lessons and most, if not all, would apply to parents of many faiths and even of no faith in particular. Some of my favorite chapters: The Blessing of Self-Control, in which she discusses why your child's difficult traits are the key to his strengths Mogel is a child psychologist who studied Judaism and applied it to her approach to parenting. Her basic premise is that children need limits and structure, and a place in both the family and wider community. She breaks her parenting advice into nine lessons and most, if not all, would apply to parents of many faiths and even of no faith in particular. Some of my favorite chapters: The Blessing of Self-Control, in which she discusses why your child's difficult traits are the key to his strengths, and The Blessing of Work, in which she talks about the value of household chores. Mogel rarely gets preachy and she clearly adores children. She talks about her ideas in a spiritual framework but I would argue you could remove the spirituality and still have much of this book, as many of her ideas have a practical as well as a religious application. For example, the chapter on honoring your father and mother works as a guideline to that commandment, but the advice works for parents who want to teach respect for adults, even if they are not teaching the Ten Commandments in the home. Mogel also provides some discussion questions and a suggested reading list. I plan to look for a used copy of this book as I imagine I will refer to it again.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Adam Ricks

    Thoughtful approach to parenting. I appreciated the Jewish teachings and can apply many of the same ideas to my parenting style, though a different religion. Including God as part of teaching our kids will change their lives. Our kids our growing up in a world where it is somehow politically incorrect or offensive to talk about God in a public setting. Bringing your beliefs into the basics of your parenting, and talking about those approaches with your kids, can have very helpful results--hopefu Thoughtful approach to parenting. I appreciated the Jewish teachings and can apply many of the same ideas to my parenting style, though a different religion. Including God as part of teaching our kids will change their lives. Our kids our growing up in a world where it is somehow politically incorrect or offensive to talk about God in a public setting. Bringing your beliefs into the basics of your parenting, and talking about those approaches with your kids, can have very helpful results--hopefully helping to provide a stable foundation for your children.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Ricks

    I like that this approach to parenting takes a religious approach, and I think we can find many commonalities between our religion and Judaism. But I've decided that I'm not reading parenting books for a while. I know that I'm never too old to be a better parent, but still ... I need a break.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jenn

    Wasn't amazing writing but this contained a good, different perspective that I liked reflecting on at the time I read it. It's amazing to learn more about Judaism and the implications for family that Jesus would have had instilled into his stories about family.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    Some helpful parenting strategies from a psychologist who based her parenting on reformed Jewish teachings The author uses some key Jewish concepts to create a structure or healthy boundaries for a family. As the author says: Psychology provides powerful theories for understanding children’s emotional problems, but the theories shift too frequently to be an anchor and give short shrift to problems of character. In the time-tested lessons of Judaism, I discovered insights and practical tools that Some helpful parenting strategies from a psychologist who based her parenting on reformed Jewish teachings The author uses some key Jewish concepts to create a structure or healthy boundaries for a family. As the author says: Psychology provides powerful theories for understanding children’s emotional problems, but the theories shift too frequently to be an anchor and give short shrift to problems of character. In the time-tested lessons of Judaism, I discovered insights and practical tools that spoke directly to both psychological and spiritual problems. Quotes: A house of God is different from the carpool line or supermarket. Wearing jeans and running shoes to temple can be an obstacle to feeling awe and transcendence... When I told them [clients] that they needed to become the “high priests in the Holy Temple of their home,” they laughed, but later it began to make sense to them. They realized that they had been so kind and democratic with their children that there was no order in the universe of their home. We then whispered a traditional blessing to each child, “May the divine face shine upon you in the coming week.” Many parents have unhappy memories of their own childhoods, memories of not being allowed to express their feelings or participate in decisions. In trying to undo these past violations, they move too far in the other direction—direction—they overvalue their children’s need for self-expression and turn their households into little democracies... In this hothouse environment, children receive plenty of attention and worldly goods, but they pay a price for it. They learn very quickly that they are not to show too much unhappiness, frustration, or disappointment. Judaism provides a very different kind of perspective on parenting. 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. Judaism shows us that we don’t have to be swallowed up by our frenzied, materialistic world—we can take what is valuable from it without being wholly consumed. The principle of moderation teaches us to do two seemingly incompatible things at once: to passionately embrace the material world that God has created—“And God saw that it was good”—while exercising self-discipline. We are not to emulate animals, who act on instinct; the pagans, who worship nature and the senses for their own sake; the angels, who don’t struggle with longing; or the ascetics, who shun earthly pleasures. God created us with intense desire and free will on purpose, and it is up to us to use this endowment for good or ill. We are obliged to embrace God’s gifts moderately but enthusiastically; in other words, we are obliged to give thanks and to party. Celebration takes hundreds of forms: the Jewish liturgy contains blessings over food, rainbows, new clothes, a narrow escape from danger, a day of rest, doing something for the first time, and even earthquakes (this last prayer can be loosely translated as “Wow, God, you are one powerful being!”). We are commanded to be constantly on guard for opportunities to be grateful for the richness of the world and for our good fortune, whatever form it takes. One traditional Jewish expression for home is the same as the word for a house of worship: mikdash me’at, or “little holy place.” The purpose of having children and raising them to be self-reliant, compassionate, ethical 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. Each of the chapters that follow is devoted to an aspect of parenting that Jewish thinkers have deemed crucial to raising children: Accept that your children are both unique and ordinary. Teach them to honor their parents and to respect others—family, friends, and community. Teach them to be resilient, self-reliant, and courageous. Teach them to be grateful for their blessings. Teach them the value of work. Teach them to make their table an altar—to approach food with an attitude of moderation, celebration, and sanctification. Teach them to accept rules and to exercise self-control. Teach them the preciousness of the present moment. Teach them about God. “The holy one does not come to His creatures with excessive demands.” In The Ethics of the Fathers (a collection of ethical maxims dating back to before the first century), Rabbi Tarfon teaches, “It is not your responsibility to complete the work [of perfecting the world] but you are not free to desist from it either.” I have not entirely escaped the perils of parenting today. I have not liberated myself from having grand aspirations for my children or from overindulging and overscheduling them, but I have moved a few degrees out of the zone of competition, pressure, and anxiety that led me to ruminate so often in the night. I don’t worry about my age as much as I used to, because my children are part of a solid and portable community. Why are parents so anxious to be raising perfect children? The answer is twofold: pride and fear of the future. Laypeople call it bragging; psychologists describe it as “achievement by proxy syndrome.” Some parents use their children’s achievements for their own sense of security, personal glory, or the fulfillment of unfulfilled dreams. Your child is not your masterpiece. According to Jewish thought, your child is not even truly “yours.” If boys risk getting their spirits crushed in early elementary school, girls face a different challenge—fulfilling impossible expectations in adolescence. A key concept in Hasidic thought expresses the idea of balance: “Keep two pieces of paper in your pockets at all times. On one write, ‘I am a speck of dust.’ On the other, ‘The world was created for me.’” The divine and the ordinary merge in Judaism... Consider the wisdom of Rabbi Zusya, an early Hasidic leader and folk hero. Zusya was known as a modest and benevolent man who, despite his meager knowledge of Torah, attained merit because of his innocence and personal righteousness. Before he died he said, “When I reach the world to come, God will not ask me why I wasn’t more like Moses. He will ask me why I wasn’t more like Zusya.” I once read a beautiful teaching attributed simply to “a modern educator.” It read: “Try to see your child as a seed that came in a packet without a label. Your job is to provide the right environment and nutrients and to pull the weeds. You can’t decide what kind of flower you’ll get or in which season it will bloom.” Many families have a ... child whose talents and tempo and needs differ from what is assumed to be normal by the rest of the group. Your “different” child may be fast-paced, impatient, and quick to act, while your family tends to be slower and more reflective. Parents who adopt children recognize that there will be inherent differences between their children and themselves, but biological parents are sometimes slower to catch on. One mother told our class that she always took off her glasses when she looked in the mirror so she wouldn’t see her beauty flaws up too close. Another confessed that she weighed herself twice a day. It’s no use hiding tricks like this from your daughter. She is psychic. You can’t expect her to accept herself when you are zealously self-critical. To truly set an example for her, you have to be willing to look in the mirror, get off the scale, and accept yourself as God made you. My advice to all of these parents is to tolerate some low-quality time. Have a little less ambition for yourself and your children. Plan nothing—disappoint your kids with your essential mediocrity and the dullness of your home. Every child cannot be good in everything, and no amount of encouragement or teacher talent can make it so. If you feel that every teacher in the school is underwhelming, you’ve got a problem. Either the school is inappropriate or your criteria are unrealistic. One principal observed that the report cards have become a cross between “a work of romantic fiction and a legal document.” fact. I recall a parent-teacher conference lasting under seven minutes, including the small talk, but we learned what we needed to know about our daughter: she was doing well. If we needed flattery, we could talk to her grandparents about her. The school was not a cruise ship. When the girls graduated they would not be shocked to discover that life isn’t a process of continuous encouragement. The sages advise us to study Torah lishma—“for its own sake”—rather than to impress others with our scholarship. If you place too high a value on straight-A report cards and a slateful of extracurricular activities, your child may feel that she needs to excel in all areas in order to retain your respect. A democratic system doesn’t work very well for dogs or children; it just makes them feel insecure. When children are young, Jewish law states that they must: Always address their parents in a gentle manner. Not contradict their parents’ words in front of others. Respect their parents’ privacy and the privacy of others. Not sit in their parents’ place at the table. Honor their stepparents. In psychology, 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. If you are constantly criticizing, you’ll lose their goodwill and end up defeating the honor project. Judaism stresses the power of our words as tools to express respect for God’s creations. And as always in Jewish theology, the smallest things count. When teaching your kids about respectful language, be clear about your standards. If your child talks back to you, take his or her hand in yours and in a calm voice say, “You are not allowed to talk to me this way.” Just as important, be consistent. Otherwise, your child won’t take you seriously and the whole program will fizzle. If you recast many of the things that Sasha feels entitled to as privileges, you’ll discover a world of consequences for non-compliance. Derech eretz (the way of the land) means etiquette and good manners in its narrowest sense, and standards for honorable, dignified behavior in its broadest... Derech eretz teaches us to always be sensitive to the feelings of others...Judaism is very big on social niceties because they are considered an essential element of a stable and wholesome community. Both adults and children often feel awkward when meeting new people, but adults have learned strategies for overcoming their awkwardness... children six and up need to learn strategies for handling the natural bashfulness they feel. Torah puts great emphasis on the importance of welcoming people into your home, making sure they feel comfortable, and giving them your full attention—it’s a mitzvah called hakhnasat orchim (hospitality to guests). If they learn to see the world as a place where others are judged behind their backs, they may become inhibited, fearing that their own actions and words are not safe from ridicule. The Torah takes dishonorable words very seriously—gossip and murder are mentioned in the same breath: One mother in a parenting class likened gossip to spiritual pollution because it fouls the air we breathe, even though we can’t see it. Your most lasting legacy, the only one that really matters, is how your children will treat their fellow creatures and the world you’re leaving them. It begins and ends with honor. This level of fearfulness in children and intense protectiveness in parents was something I saw all the time. No matter how busy these parents are, the child’s problems remain a central preoccupation. Instead of enjoying their time with their children, they’re busy fretting and fixing. There is a Hebrew phrase, tzar gidul banim, that refers to the ubiquitous pain of raising children. We parents go through years of emotional anguish as we raise our kids, but tzar gidol banim also refers to our children’s pain. Without it they cannot grow strong. Like God, new parents are miracle makers. When children are tiny babies, we vigilantly monitor everything that goes into their mouths and comes out their bottoms. We make sure they aren’t hungry or thirsty, and we provide constant protection and care. But as our children mature, we need to withdraw from smoothing their path and satisfying all their wishes. Parents’ urge to overprotect their children is based on fear. Fear of strangers, the streets, the Internet, the mall. Fear of the child’s not being invited to the right parties or accepted by the right schools. Fear about safety, sex, disease, and drugs. ...most of the parents I speak with believe that their children should be spared “ordinary unhappiness” and should be protected from feeling sad, angry, afraid, frustrated, or disappointed. According to Orthodox psychologist and parent educator Miriam Adahan, children need an opportunity to learn about the “wave pattern” of emotions. If parents rush in to rescue them from distress, children don’t get an opportunity to learn that they can suffer and recover on their own. The first step is to try, as much as possible, to put common sense and faith before emotion If... you can use common sense (we’ve overcome challenges before and we’ll overcome this one) bitachon (trust in God), you can relax a little. The spiritual discipline of bitachonrequires us to make our best efforts on behalf of our children, use our best judgment, and leave the rest in God’s hands. How to know if you’re spending too much time worrying about your children? If you notice that even during seemingly perfect moments you’re thinking about potential troubles ahead, you’re worrying too much. Another sign: your children seem overly cautious or anxious. Frequently, worrier parents raise worrying children who see the world as overwhelming and threatening. The idea that you can prevent a bad event by worrying about it turns up in Jewish folktales, like the one about the chimney sweep Yossel, who, in exchange for a salary of one ruble a week, was appointed the official Worrier of Chelm. One resident of Chelm complained, “If Yossel gets a nice salary of one ruble a week, what has he got to worry about?” It’s not obvious, but one of the problems with this perspective is its lack of humility. It’s arrogant to think we are in charge of everything. That’s why, when some traditional Jews speak about something that will happen in the future, they always append “God willing” to the end of the sentence. Among the families I work with, the fears center around the big three: crime, safety, and the media (TV, music, film, and the Internet). You owe it to your children to use good judgment and caution without overreacting to distorted threats. If you don’t allow your children the freedom other parents in the neighborhood give their kids, you’re probably being overly protective. It’s not fair to unburden yourself of ambivalence by letting them watch the Cartoon Network while you sit on the couch delivering pious little lessons about art, feminism, or politics. “Lech lecha—Go forth, move!” God told Abraham when it was time for him to leave the land of his father to venture out into the unknown Promised Land. The phrase literally means “go to yourself.” Unless your child ventures forth into the world he won’t get a chance to learn how to master it and to find his place. I wondered what had helped Lily become so independent. The answer came as her mother, Mina, and I chatted about Lily’s first experience at a sleepaway summer camp. Mina said, “Of course Lily was pretty nervous and threw up the usual few times the night before, but I just put her on the bus in the morning.”...In my community a child who became physically sick from fear of going away to camp would be kept home or might even be taken to a therapist to be evaluated for separation anxiety disorder. Having the courage not to pamper and overprotect your child means that sometimes she will be uncomfortable, unhappy, or even in peril, but that you are willing to take a chance because of your commitment to her growth and development. Are you ready to challenge your own child to courageously solve his or her own problems? In America, we often keep such people [severely disabled] separate. Although we let children see horror movies, we protect them from seeing real people who look scary and act inappropriately... When we protect our children from people who are different, inappropriate, and even frightening, they’ll be too easily shocked and frightened as adults. Young children titrate their own level of upset up or down depending on their parents’ facial expression or gestures. While parents don’t need to deprive their children of life-sustaining essentials, they do need to prepare them for rough conditions by teaching them to tolerate some stresses and extremes. Doing the right thing is more important than feeling the correct feelings, so while it is perfectly acceptable to desire things that aren’t necessary, we must discipline ourselves and direct our actions away from them. Explaining cause and effect rarely works with children, because their passion and sense of omnipotence overwhelm their capacity for logic... Most pious lectures are a waste of everybody’s time. Let’s look at a short list of things that children are fully entitled to: respectful treatment, healthful food, shelter from the weather, practical and comfortable clothing, yearly checkups at the pediatrician and the dentist, and a good education. Everything else is a privilege. It’s an adult’s job to remember that Hollister-brand clothing, an iPhone, and all the latest Wii games are not necessary for human survival. Your child need not understand or agree with this point of view. Stopping before eating in order to bless food is a ubiquitous religious practice because it’s a natural—every time we eat we have a choice between gluttony or gratitude to God. Children who get most of their desires satisfied right away don’t have a chance to appreciate what they’ve already got. Doing chores—looking after themselves and helping the family—are their first good deeds. The sages say that the answer to the question, “Where does God live?” is “Wherever you look for him.” Parent educator Barbara Colorosa says it’s not the severity of a consequence that has an impact on children but the certainty. Same goes for rewards. We are to elevate the act of eating by being conscious about when, what, where, and why we eat. In other words, we must make our table an altar... We need to approach food in a conscious way so we can take full advantage of our human capacity for self-control and enjoyment ... there is a place for both nutrition and delight. Mothers and fathers usually influence their children more than any other environmental factor, so it’s possible that your child’s problems are at least partly a reaction to your own mishegas. With children, rationalizations are pointless. Instead of sympathy, you get instant karma. Are you wimpy? Your children will walk all over you if you don’t toughen up. Are you moody? Your kids will be moodier. Let your children taste success. Be a talent scout. Find islands of competence.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Katie Krombein

    Loved this book and the author's tone. Since I am not Jewish, I am not planning to dive into all the traditions. But I thought she had lots of good things to say. p. 257 gives a great summary line to the author: "I am a psychologist who has left the practice of psychotherapy to do preventive mental health work: to teach, to guide families back to their faith, to help parents look at their children's anxieties and desires using a different lens. Lots of great thoughts, here are a few:< Loved this book and the author's tone. Since I am not Jewish, I am not planning to dive into all the traditions. But I thought she had lots of good things to say. p. 257 gives a great summary line to the author: "I am a psychologist who has left the practice of psychotherapy to do preventive mental health work: to teach, to guide families back to their faith, to help parents look at their children's anxieties and desires using a different lens. Lots of great thoughts, here are a few: p. 35: "Celebration and gratitude are key concepts in Judaism and Jewish child-rearing. We are commanded to be constantly on guard for opportunities to be grateful for the richness of the world and for our good fortune, whatever form it takes. Through its spiritual calendar, rituals, and blessings, Judaism offers families many ways to practice and teach gratitude and joy. Sanctification, the third principle, is the process of acknowledging the holiness in everyday actions and events. ...the place of greatest holiness is our own homes..." p. 43: Your child is not your masterpiece. According to Jewish thought, your child is not even truly "yours." In Hebrew there is no verb for possession; the expression we translate as "to have," yes li, actually means "it is there for me" or "there is for me." Although nothing belongs to us, God has made everything available on loan and has invited us to borrow it to further the purpose of holiness. This includes our children. They are a precious loan, adn each one has a unique path towards serving God. Our job is to help them find out what it is. p. 96: If parents rush in to rescue them from distress, children don't get an opportunity to learn that they can suffer and recover on their own. p. 117: Doing the right thing is more important than feeling the correct feelings, so while it is perfectly acceptable to desire things that aren't necessary, we must discipline ourselves and direct our actions away from them. p. 118: Parents cannot and should not try to eliminate longing in a child. Instead, we must teach our children how to redirect their longings, accept "no" graciously, and appreciate the blessings they do have. p. 122: Let's look at the short list of things that children are fully entitled to: respectful treatment, healthful food, shelter from the weather, practical and comfortable clothing, yearly checkups at the pediatrician and the dentist, and a good education. Everything else is a privilege. p. 124...if your child continues to beg, whine, and demand, be resolute. Try starting your sentences with the word nevertheless. Although you accept his desire without condemnation, at some point you'll need to say, "I know you want...but the case is closed. We are not going to discuss this anymore." p. 128-129: Giving as a way to say thank you...giving to others can also be a way to acknowledge one's blessings. In Judaism everyone is supposed to think of themselves as having more than they need. If a playdate is canceled because of a sick friend, you might say, "Jonah's mom called to say he can't play with you today because he's sick. Let's figure out whta kind of get well card we could make to help him get better faster." Note that this is not a yes or no question but a sentence that starts with the magical parenting word let's. p. 135: By teaching our children to see chores as more than just drudgery but as their way of honoring their parents and welcoming God into their home, we elevate the tasks they have to do. p. 141: The parent who avoids assigning household tasks because she feels guilty for owrking or takes pity on her children is doing them no favor. Instead, she is buying their immediate goodwill with their future well-being. ....According to psychologists Donald Akutugawa and Terry Whitman, "Humans are the only creatures that devote energy to making their offspring 'happy.' The rest of the animal kingdom is devoted to fostering competence to survive in the world." Children deserve more than our love and devotion. They deserve to be taught how to fend for themselves and eventually contribute to society. p. 193: Recognizing your child's worst behavior as her greatest strength. ...The extraordinary talents arise from the yetzer hara, the unruly "Goofus" side of your child's personality. It's essential that you learn to see those intense, often irksome traits as the seeds of your child's greatness. Try thinking of: Your stubborn or whining child as persistent. Your complaining child as discerning. Your overeating child as lusty. Your argumentative child as forthright and outspoken. Your loud child as exuberant. Your shy child as cautious and modest. Your reckless, accident-prone, or rule-breaking child as daring and adventurous. Your bossy child as commanding and authoritative. Your picky, nervous, obsessive child as serious and detail-oriented. Now ask yourself if your child has sufficient opportunity to express her natural tendencies in a constructive way. p. 206: If you redefine most of what your child considers entitlements as privileges to be earned, you'll have a dazzlingly large universe of effective punishments available to you. ...The first step in inaugurating this new worldview is a change in your lexicon. Instead of saying, "if you don't do x (clean up your room right now!) then you won't be able to do Y (watch television tonight)." Change the "if...then" to "when...then," as in: "When you remember to put your clothes in teh hamper for three days in a row, then you'll be allowed to watch television in the evening after homework. I will not remind you even once. If you like, I'll be glad to help you set up a chart to help you remember. Now tell me what I said so I'll know that we both understand the rules the same way." p. 206-7: "The repentant sinner should strive to do good with the same faculties with which he sinned. ... With whatever part of his body he sinned, he should now engage in good deeds. If his feet had run to sin, let them now run to the performance of good. If his mouth had spoken falsehood, let it now be opened to wisdom. Violent hands should now open to charity. ...The troublemaker should now become a peacemaker." Rabbi Jonah Gerondi, thirteenth century. The purpose of discipline is to teach both new attitudes and new behaviors. Making amends is a good way to help children learn precisely what they have done wrong, because the child is required to actively undo or repair the unacceptable behavior. ...If your child has committed a sin of rebellion, think about how he can repair the physical or emotional damage he has caused. As Rabbi Gerondi recommended, he should try to make amends using whatever faculty he employed to commit the crime. p. 218: Your product you're after at home is to create an environment where four tired human beings can not only get the homework done and the teeth brushed but also unwind and, through sharing food and conversation, restore their connection to one another. ...Although it might ease your general sense of anxiety to load the dishwasher and return phone calls the instant you get home, control the urge. You're doing your job better if you let the dishes and phone calls wait while your daughter tells you, in one breathless download, about how her teacher's son once got lost on a camping trip and they couldn't find him for four hours. p. 227: Find time to Connect: What do you do when your child talks to you? Chances are, you keep doing what you were doing before she started in. This is especially true for parents of chattterbox children. But no matter how severe your child's logorrhea, once each day, pay attention. Even if it's just for two minutes, stop everything else you are doing, get down to her eye level....Before too long your children will be teenagers. They may no longer prefer your company to that of their friends. If you've got a spare moment, sit down beside your child... p. 248: In Judaism giving to the poor or needy or caring for the sick is not charity, it is justice. By helping others, you set the world straight when it has tipped against an individual or group. Cis's offer [to help us] was different from one of friendship, courtesy, or social service. She was asking us to give her an opportunity to fulfill a holy obligation mandated by God. What right did we have to refuse? p. 256: I tell the parents in my classes that instead of sizing up the sermon, the rabbi, or the service, they may benefit more from sizing up what Jews call kavanah, a Hebrew term that means spiritual focus. You measure your kavanah not by asking, "how was the sermon?" or "what do I really think of this rabbi?" but by asking yourself, "how well was I able to take something of value from what was said? Did I dan l'chaf zecuth, judge on the side of merit, give the benefit of the doubt, to the congregants? Was I generous or stingy in my judgments?" Like D.W. Winnicott's good enough mother, ask yourself, "Is this place, are these people, is this sermon good enough?" Save your hyperdiscriminating self for the new Korean restaurant or the latest movie.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    I wasn't that impressed when I first started this book--the style was dry, and I'd heard some of the ideas before. But I quickly warmed up to the book as I read along. Although some of the parenting ideas (both philosophical and practical) are available elsewhere, the content is still very worthwhile, and some of it, which I discovered as I went along, was definitely new. It's highly sensible, practical, and above all *wise.* What makes this book unique is its Jewish perspective, which gives the I wasn't that impressed when I first started this book--the style was dry, and I'd heard some of the ideas before. But I quickly warmed up to the book as I read along. Although some of the parenting ideas (both philosophical and practical) are available elsewhere, the content is still very worthwhile, and some of it, which I discovered as I went along, was definitely new. It's highly sensible, practical, and above all *wise.* What makes this book unique is its Jewish perspective, which gives the book a real spiritual richness. The Jewish perspective is enough different from my own to make the book fresh and interesting and to help set things in a new light, but it's also totally translatable--you don't have to be Jewish to implement these ideas. Nuts and bolts: organized around nine "blessings": 1. the blessing of acceptance (about how and why to accept your child's uniqueness and avoid trying to stuff him in a box or push her to match your own ideal) 2. the blessing of someone to look up to (about the importance of establishing parental authority and teaching children to honor parents) 3. the blessing of a skinned knee (about not overprotecting children) 4. the blessing of longing (about not satisfying your child's every desire and teaching them an attitude of gratitude instead of greed) 5. the blessing of work (about the how and why of assigning chores) 6. the blessing of food (about teaching a balanced attitude toward food, establishing meaningful family meals, and solving mealtime dilemmas--all drawing from a distinctly Jewish theology) 7. the blessing of self-control (self explanatory, but also talks about how to harness your child's weaknesses and turn them into strengths; also discusses appropriate disciplinary strategies for three different situations when your child needs discipline) 8. the blessing of time (emphasizes the value of Sabbath for cultivating an appreciation of the present moment and discusses how to avoid being overly busy) 9. the blessings of faith and tradition (about how to approach religion and teach it to your children if you yourself are reticent about organized religion)

  16. 5 out of 5

    Anna Simon

    This is, quite simply, the best parenting book I've read yet, for giving overall advice about how to be a good parent. Dr. Mogel is a psychologist who was seeing similar problems in families - ones where the family wasn't functioning well, the child was doing poorly, but nothing really was 'wrong' (i.e. loving and dedicated parents, healthy child). She also was reading Jewish parenting resources aimed at Orthodox Jews that had some wonderfully useful ideas... but with also a lot of baggage that This is, quite simply, the best parenting book I've read yet, for giving overall advice about how to be a good parent. Dr. Mogel is a psychologist who was seeing similar problems in families - ones where the family wasn't functioning well, the child was doing poorly, but nothing really was 'wrong' (i.e. loving and dedicated parents, healthy child). She also was reading Jewish parenting resources aimed at Orthodox Jews that had some wonderfully useful ideas... but with also a lot of baggage that is unsavory to most modern Jews (and other people). It was then that she realized her current calling: to provide these pearls to a broader audience. That's what this book is. There are many wonderful ideas, specific and general, about what we can do as parents to nurture our children to be capable, independent, healthy, happy, and ethical. Most are very simple and do not seem particularly 'Jewish' but she provides the Jewish foundation for those who are interested. Even those that do seem specifically Jewish, such as keeping the sabbath, are interpreted in a secular way that will be relevant to any family, in this example, making time to wind down every week, and making it a very high priority. The central message here if there is one, as reflected by the title, is that we need to allow our children to be children- including to not shelter them so much, to allow life to teach them consequences when those consequences aren't so serious. This is the theme of Love and Logic, another parenting resource I would recommend. These are simple recommendations, but many are not easy. Making time to wind down is especially hard for my family. Dr. Mogel is sensitive to how challenging this can be and makes gentle and compelling arguments as to why they are important enough to work at them. There is no judgement here, only straight talk with compassionate language.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    This book had been recommended to me in a Waldorf parent meeting, but i just decided to read it recently. I have been thinking a lot about entitlement, and how to help my children develop respect and appreciation, which is what the book purports to address. In the end, I found that it reiterated a large number of the beliefs that i have been developing on my own, and perhaps had some encouraging ideas for how to implement them, but was not ground breaking for me. (There is something i This book had been recommended to me in a Waldorf parent meeting, but i just decided to read it recently. I have been thinking a lot about entitlement, and how to help my children develop respect and appreciation, which is what the book purports to address. In the end, I found that it reiterated a large number of the beliefs that i have been developing on my own, and perhaps had some encouraging ideas for how to implement them, but was not ground breaking for me. (There is something in here about appreciating the child you have, warts and all. There is something in here about re-framing your child's difficult aspects as positive traits. There is something in here about giving your child rhythm, giving your child time to be, and giving your child a sense of something larger than themselves. It all fits in with the ideas from Waldorf that resonated with me, as well as the ideas from the Spirited Child book.) This book does come from a Jewish standpoint. The author makes a point that you do not have to be Jewish or observant if you are Jewish, to benefit from the ideas. The religious ideals do offer a foundation from which the more general child-rearing ideas are discussed. Generally I found that the discussion of Judaism made me feel some curiosity and respect for the religion. I found that this inspiration made some of the language and imagery beautiful. On the other hand, I found that the chapter on introducing God as part of your parenting really fell flat for me; I just can't bring myself to do that and feel honest about it. (If i map the idea to introducing something bigger than ourselves I am okay with it. In our case, our bigger is family and community and heritage. But I ended up skimming most of the chapter.)

  18. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    Excellent book for parents, teachers, or anyone working with kids. Mogel discusses how indulged and unhappy today's kids are, and teaches us how children can be parented in a way that helps them to become more resilient and capable. Her goal is to help us produce children who grow into kind, responsible, ethical adults. Imagine that! She uses Jewish teachings as her foundation, and while I am Christian, I found that all of her wisdom had a universal relevance, and spoke to me in profound ways. M Excellent book for parents, teachers, or anyone working with kids. Mogel discusses how indulged and unhappy today's kids are, and teaches us how children can be parented in a way that helps them to become more resilient and capable. Her goal is to help us produce children who grow into kind, responsible, ethical adults. Imagine that! She uses Jewish teachings as her foundation, and while I am Christian, I found that all of her wisdom had a universal relevance, and spoke to me in profound ways. Mogel's thoughts about our overly rushed, frenzied and materialistic lifestyles are pertinent to adults and children. She has realistic answers for correcting these imbalances in our home. For example, Mogel encourages families to teach their children the concept of a mitzvah, or an act of kindness. If a local family has lost a loved one, for example, my child might prepare a meal and deliver it, rather than doing nothing or focusing solely on his/her own feelings about this family’s loss. By doing something for the grieving family, my child’s focus shifts from himself to a person who is in need, thereby teaching my child how to care for others and learn about communal responsibility. Such an act also empowers the child, rather than leaving her feeling lost and powerless in the face of such a frightening concept as death. The discipline techniques and life skills that we've employed from Mogel’s book have made a big difference in our home. When we lost our family dog last week, we mourned her by establishing a foundation in her name at a German Shepherd Rescue organization, and it helped us all to feel a bit better, because instead of getting lost in our grief, we had the chance help other animals like her. Great book – I’d read it again.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Paul Gaya Ochieng Simeon Juma

    If I don't read any other book this year, it will be just fine. A book of this kind teaches us a lot about life. Raising children will always remain a challenge to all people. Its part of life and most of us go into it feeling afraid and without a clue as to what is supposed to be done. They don't teach that in school. Reading this book, if you can find it will help a great deal. Wendy Morgel has shared a lot of what she knows to us as a way of guiding us with our children. Parents ho If I don't read any other book this year, it will be just fine. A book of this kind teaches us a lot about life. Raising children will always remain a challenge to all people. Its part of life and most of us go into it feeling afraid and without a clue as to what is supposed to be done. They don't teach that in school. Reading this book, if you can find it will help a great deal. Wendy Morgel has shared a lot of what she knows to us as a way of guiding us with our children. Parents hold a lot of influence on their children. They take a part of us without us putting any effort. Unknowingly, we impart in them our good habits and our bad habits. It's normal, there is nothing to worry about. However, there are certain fundamentals we need to know and tackle as our children start growing. Lessons we can get from the bible or in this case, the Talmud. A human life is almost always a complex mixture of different behaviors. Some are in born while others are acquired. The fact remains that we want our kids to pick up the good habits while at the same time disregarding the bad ones. It is not easy. Laying the foundation to what will become our children's point of reference in future is one of the most difficult tasks for parents. We need to control our fears and allow our children an opportunity to experience the world. It means setting them free while at the same time watching them so that they don't hurt themselves. Ms. Morgel teaches us to follow the three steps of celebration, and sanctity in our homes. I don't know about raising children but you bet that am going to put it into practice.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    I did enjoy this one. I think I enjoyed bits and pieces more than the whole. Some examples: Mogel describes parent patients from her clinical psychiatric practice who were "disappointed" when hearing that their children had no mental disorder because, unfortunately, no drug or treatment could be given to fix their normal kid. The author quotes Rabbi Tarfon as saying, "It is not your responsibility to complete the work [of perfecting the world] but you are not free to desist I did enjoy this one. I think I enjoyed bits and pieces more than the whole. Some examples: Mogel describes parent patients from her clinical psychiatric practice who were "disappointed" when hearing that their children had no mental disorder because, unfortunately, no drug or treatment could be given to fix their normal kid. The author quotes Rabbi Tarfon as saying, "It is not your responsibility to complete the work [of perfecting the world] but you are not free to desist from it either." She also quotes Rabbi Zusya as saying, "When I reach the world to come, God will not ask me why I wasn't more like Moses. He will ask me why I wasn't more like Zusya. And Mogel reminds us that "frequently, worrier parents raise worrying children who see the world as overwhelming and threatening. On the whole, the book seemed a reminder of many good ideas about child rearing and family life rather than a coherent or new philosophy, or a new or exceptional take on an ancient philosophy. I also have to admit that I was put off, at times, by the nature of the book as a Jewish apologetic. I am put off by any religion claiming that truth is theirs. Truth is not Buddhist or Christian or Catholic or Muslim or Methodist or Jewish. Truth is, simply, truth. And I don't have to belong to any sect or religion to know it.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    I admit to being a bit disappointed in this. I was expecting, well, more. Which, is ridiculous, because when I read parenting books, this is the feeling I am usually left with. I don't think I pulled out any new information, and I certainly did not pick up any helpful hints. However, I did choose to give this three stars rather than two, because it was a pleasant read. Mogel writes with an easy-going, un-preachy tone. And, everything she suggests is genuinely (I think) good parenting advice. She I admit to being a bit disappointed in this. I was expecting, well, more. Which, is ridiculous, because when I read parenting books, this is the feeling I am usually left with. I don't think I pulled out any new information, and I certainly did not pick up any helpful hints. However, I did choose to give this three stars rather than two, because it was a pleasant read. Mogel writes with an easy-going, un-preachy tone. And, everything she suggests is genuinely (I think) good parenting advice. She peppers the tale with solid and accesible examples throughout. For me, much of the read was a way to "refresh." The hidden benefit of the book for me was in learning more detail about customs and rituals in the Jewish faith. I developed a more in-depth understanding of some things I had only a cursory understanding of. In general, a good read, but I wouldn't think many of my friends would gain new, insightgul knowledge....and, really, this is not research-based at all, for those to whom that matters.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    Confession: Typically when I read informational, self-help-y non-fiction I tend to skim through because I get bored with the writing style or the information in general. This book was a total exception! Once I started, I couldn't put it down. I loved both the author's approach to child raising AND Judaism. As a non-Jewish mother raising Jewish children, this was just the push I needed to be proactive in bringing religion into their lives. Admittedly, we have no traditions in our household y Confession: Typically when I read informational, self-help-y non-fiction I tend to skim through because I get bored with the writing style or the information in general. This book was a total exception! Once I started, I couldn't put it down. I loved both the author's approach to child raising AND Judaism. As a non-Jewish mother raising Jewish children, this was just the push I needed to be proactive in bringing religion into their lives. Admittedly, we have no traditions in our household yet (I keep saying, "When they get older.") but I now feel inspired to start even if it's just one or two things. I also loved, loved, LOVED her philosophy on raising children. There were a few chapters where I saw myself in the "here's now to NOT do things as a parent" and although I was cringing on the inside, it was a relief to read how I could do things differently. I would love to see the author speak in person and will be checking here website often to see if she will be in the area.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Mandy

    A neighbor of a friend was given this book by her daughter's school and asked my friend to read it and let her know if it was any good. My friend in turn gave it to me knowing that I'll read almost anything put in front of me. Amazingly it was really really good. I've worked with kids for years and I find theories about how to raise them really interesting. I like the way this book was written as well as the ideas and explanations in it. Within the child rearing advice is the story of a woman's A neighbor of a friend was given this book by her daughter's school and asked my friend to read it and let her know if it was any good. My friend in turn gave it to me knowing that I'll read almost anything put in front of me. Amazingly it was really really good. I've worked with kids for years and I find theories about how to raise them really interesting. I like the way this book was written as well as the ideas and explanations in it. Within the child rearing advice is the story of a woman's return to Judaism and her decision to observe the rituals and the meanings she finds in them. As a Jew I appreciated her views.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    While I often lose interest before completely a parenting book, this one held me to the last page. The author took some time away from her practice as a a child psychologist to immerse herself in the study of Judaism. So many of the Jewish lessons she learned informed her new perspective on parenting, one that helps foster emotionally balanced, self-reliant, responsible children. I found many of her parenting lesson affirming of my own parenting style and took away nuanced differences of approac While I often lose interest before completely a parenting book, this one held me to the last page. The author took some time away from her practice as a a child psychologist to immerse herself in the study of Judaism. So many of the Jewish lessons she learned informed her new perspective on parenting, one that helps foster emotionally balanced, self-reliant, responsible children. I found many of her parenting lesson affirming of my own parenting style and took away nuanced differences of approach that might help me to do better. I also appreciated the author's take on passing along religious faith and traditions to our children.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Moriah

    Among other things, this book brings up the point that parents today tend to want their kids to excel at everything. While I don't have grand designs for my kids and I'm generally very good at not getting sucked into keeping up with the Joneses--and their kids!--it hadn't dawned on me how the more subtle expectations of kids have changed since I was growing up. This book is great at putting certain aspects of child-rearing into perspective for today's parents--and you certainly don't have to be Among other things, this book brings up the point that parents today tend to want their kids to excel at everything. While I don't have grand designs for my kids and I'm generally very good at not getting sucked into keeping up with the Joneses--and their kids!--it hadn't dawned on me how the more subtle expectations of kids have changed since I was growing up. This book is great at putting certain aspects of child-rearing into perspective for today's parents--and you certainly don't have to be Jewish for this book to be relevant. I usually sum up highlights for Sascha when I read a parenting book, but I want him to read this one all the way through on his own.

  26. 4 out of 5

    D

    not a book that i necessarily want to read cover to cover, but definitely provides balanced, meaningful, authentic suggestions for conceptualizing parenting. i borrowed from the library but it is a book plan on purchasing so i can refer to when i find myself in a parenting slump (over thinking, over worrying). written by a psychotherapist who seemed to discover judaism and it's application to her therapy practice with adolescents--specifically to kids who did not meet criteria for psychological not a book that i necessarily want to read cover to cover, but definitely provides balanced, meaningful, authentic suggestions for conceptualizing parenting. i borrowed from the library but it is a book plan on purchasing so i can refer to when i find myself in a parenting slump (over thinking, over worrying). written by a psychotherapist who seemed to discover judaism and it's application to her therapy practice with adolescents--specifically to kids who did not meet criteria for psychological disorders but who were nonetheless out of sync with their parents.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Katie Busby

    Charlie is not at an age where this book is really applicable. Also, I am not sure I am totally comfortable with the way she got her 3 yo daughter to brush her teeth. (She told her that she would have to stay outside in the backyard over night if she did not brush her teeth. As she was walking her daughter outside, her daughter quickly changed her mind...what if her daughter was bold and said, fine, I will sleep outside? What would she do then?

  28. 4 out of 5

    Vera

    There's nothing really new here--I think the precepts Mogel outlines are already 80% the way I was brought up and the way I am trying to bring up my own children. But it's still helpful to have it all codified and look at things like "because I'm your mother, and I said so" from a spiritual perspective.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kari

    I really enjoyed reading this book on parenting even though I'm not Jewish. A lot of reminders on slowing down this fast paced life, letting kids make mistakes, accepting kids for who they are (not forcing them into a box), and appreciating all our blessings.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Naomi Hoyt

    This is a parenting book I come back to over and over again. People of all religious beliefs will appreciate the practical and thoughtful philosophy regarding parenting that Wendy Mogel puts forth. A must read for anyone struggling to raise kids in this materialistic and entitlement driven world!

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