Wendy Mogel takes her Judaism very seriously. Last night I went to hear her speak at Glenbard East as part of the Glenbard Parent Series. Congregation Etz Chaim was one of the sponsors of last night’s program so I wanted to be a part of it. Her presentation was about raising resilient teens. She explained to the mainly non-Jewish audience that Jewish values are so important to instill into our teens. She quoted the Babylonian Talmud where it speaks about the obligations a parent has to his/her child to teach him/her to study, learn a craft and to swim. She also made reference to a Hebrew phrase “lo lefached”, do not be afraid. She was referring to not being afraid to discipline your child, no matter what the age. She said there need to be firm rules at home and they must be enforced. She talked about the fun children can have at a Passover seder and then reach a certain age and want nothing to do with any part of the fun. Those of us sitting in the third row enjoyed all of these quips. I hope the message behind all of them was understood by the whole audience.
The main part of the talk described what Dr. Mogel called her Twelve Step list for “OVERPARENTING ANONYMOUS”. Below is this list:
1. Resist taking the role of butler, sherpa, concierge, talent agent or the secret police—parents lead best by example.
2. Don’t mistake a snapshot for the epic movie of your child’s life. Kids go through phases.
3. Before you nag, criticize, praise or over-explain remember the slogan W.A.I.T.: “why am I talking?”
4. Be alert but not automatically alarmed.
5. Don’t confuse children’s wants with their needs.
6. Remember that your child is not your masterpiece.
7. Learn to love the words “trial” and “error.” Let your child make mistakes before going off to college.
8. Don’t fix what’s not broken. Accept your child’s nature even if he’s shy, stubborn, or not great at math.
9. When you child doesn’t make the team, the school play, or the in-group, remember that this is good preparation for adult life.
10. Recognize that the grades your child receives are not the measure of your worth as a parent.
11. Emphasize ordinary chores and family citizenship along with schoolwork and extracurriculars.
12. Give your kids time to play… lest they sue you for stealing their childhoods.
She talked in depth about some of these steps. She really emphasized listening to our kids, no matter what age they are. We should listen three times as often as we speak. If you wish you are able to read some of her articles online. You will find that many have Jewish content and all contain helpful hints for child rearing. If you have not read her books, we will have them at the book fair in December.