Thursday, February 24, 2011

February Book Club - The Blessing of a Skinned Knee

Every once in a while there is a book that stops you in your tracks and forces you to pause and take stock and re-evaluate your life. This is one such book. Reading it made me excited to be a mother. I felt empowered. I felt relieved. I felt like this could be my manifesto. A book that made me feel like a good mother, and made me feel like I could be an even better one.

I've read literally hundreds (thousands?) of parenting books and articles and while some are interesting and some are informative, most of them leave me feeling - nothing. They are either so simplistic that they are not worth the time it took to read them, or so technical and detached that I cannot feel a connection or identify how they might work in my life or they simply make me feel like a lousy mother. Who wants to read a book about what you should have been doing or how you are ruining your child? The Blessing of a Skinned Knee is like a breath of fresh air- a positive and uplifting and genuine parenting guide.

Nationally known clinical psychologist and lecturer Wendy Mogel introduces parents to the time tested philosophies and approaches to child rearing that are focused on 9 blessings which are the titles of 9 chapters in the book

Chapter 2 The Blessing of Acceptance : Discovering Your Unique and Ordinary Child

Chapter 3 The Blessing of Having Someone to Look Up To: Honoring Mother and Father

Chapter 4 The Blessing of a Skinned Knee : Why God Doesn't want you to Overprotect Your Child

Chapter 5 The Blessing of Longing: Teaching Your Child an Attitude of Gratitude

Chapter 6 The Blessing of Work : Finding the Holy Sparks in Ordinary Chores

Chapter 7 The Blessing of Food: Bringing Moderation, Celebration and Sanctification to Your Table

Chapter 8 The Blessing of Self Control : Channeling Your Child's Yetzer Hara

Chapter 9 The Blessing of Time : Teaching Your Child the Value of the Present Moment

Chapter 10 The Blessing of Faith and Tradition : Losing your Fear of the G Word and Introducing Your Child to Spirituality

There are so many things that speak to me in this book- and while it is technically written from a Jewish perspective, the lessons of life and child rearing are Biblical and practical. In a society where parents seem to be attacked for not doing enough for their children Mogel gives parents permission to follow their hearts and encourages them to look to the future and make long term goals.

This book has literally changed our family, but not in the "lets all be vegetarians least until next week when I come up with something else" kind of way, but in little changes of perspective and attitudes. Mogel herself reminds us that " grand proclamations- "there are going to be some changes around here!!" - don't work. Judaism teaches us not to dive in all at once , but to take on mitzvot (ritual or ethical obligations) one at a time."

And step by step, she outlines the ideals and then builds the bridge for us as parents to work towards them, all the time reassuring us that our children are normal by reminding us that " no one is born feeling grateful; it's an acquired skill! "

The goal of the book centers around two philosophies one being “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.” The other philosophy being the realization and acknowledgment that we are not born as parents, but are growing and building character through each day, through each challenge and through each success.

It is most certainly in my top 5 parenting books ever and I would love to encourage you to read it and let me know what you think!

No comments:

Post a Comment