Monday, September 15, 2014

Blessing of the Skinned Knee



A Mom is at the park with her small child. The child is playing with a shovel and another kid comes up and takes it away. The Mom immediately gets up and gets the shovel back for her child. How about a child who is away at summer camp and feeling homesick. They call their parents and they immediately get in the car to pick up their child.  Or how about the parent who sends the teacher an angry email because their child got a bad grade. We see and hear of these things happening all the time. Like me you may even be guilty of a few. Parents are going out of their way to ensure that their child does not feel upset, hurt, disappointed, or uncomfortable. Even though parents who are guilty of this have their hearts in the right place, what happens to these kids when they grow up and realize that feeling hurt, disappointed, or uncomfortable are a part of life? This type of parenting can lead to self-absorbed, self-entitled kids who cannot cope with the real world. A bit dramatic? Maybe? Maybe not? 

This is something that as a parent that I think about all the time. My biggest concern is raising 2 self-entitled spoiled brats who can't function in the real world. I am conscious of this and even though I do not want to be over-protective and over-indulge my kids, I find myself doing it all the time. As a parent I want to give my kids the world. Like literally, if I could give then the world and moon and stars I would. I am, at times, guilty of what Wendy Mogel calls "over-devotion". 

Wendy Mogel is a Los Angeles based clinical psychologist who is also the author of the best selling parenting book "The Blessing of the Skinned Knee: Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Self-Reliant Children". In her book she battles the issues head on saying that parents are overprotecting, overindulging and at the same time expecting our kids to be the best at everything and not teaching them to respect adults. We are pushing our kids to ace exams and make soccer goals but not teaching them life skills. From her book...

"If the pressure to be special gets too intense, children end up in the therapist’s office suffering from sleep and eating disorders, chronic stomachaches, hair-pulling, depression, and other ailments. They are casualties of their parents’ drive for perfection. It was children such as these who spurred me to look outside standard therapeutic practices for ways to help. In Judaism I found an approach that respects children’s uniqueness while accepting them in all their ordinary glory."

You can read an excerpt from the book HERE 

Mogel suggests that we embrace our children's individual talents and not expect perfection. We need to be okay with our kids being "good enough". We also need to stop pressuring ourselves as parents to be an extraordinary parents. We need to get back to making parenting a joy and not a competition. By adopting this "good enough" attitude and loving our children for their own sake and not for their achievements, you can have a more relaxed family and make everyone's life richer. 


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