Monday, March 18, 2013


The March 2013 issue of Big Apple Parent ran an article where a pair of child psychologists wrote:

Let's imagine the kid who doesn't want to go to wherever it is he's supposed to be headed.  A best-case scenario for insisting your son go is that he discovers, to everyone's surprise, that he likes this or that sport more than he thought he would, or that he is better at it than he had believed.... All of which will evaporate in the wake of a parent saying something along the lives of Hey, I told you you'd like it! or See! You just had to stick with it!  Parents are often surprised to hear this - What's wrong with saying that? They challenge.  What?  Am I just supposed to say nothing?

No, not nothing - but certainly not that.  Because as brief and well intentioned as the remark is, it is still going to offend the child.  It says to him, You see, I knew it all along that this would happenYou should have listened to me in the first place.  Which says, I know what the outcome in these situations is going to be, which is just another way of saying, I really do know better about these things.  Maybe you do - but that's not what matters here.

I had not read that particular piece when I wrote my latest for Kveller, which included the following conclusion:

I know that current parenting philosophy dictates reason over bribery, and insists that children’s opinions should be given equal weight with adults as a sign of respect for their agency and in the interest of cultivating strong self-esteem.

Here’s the thing, though: My child’s opinion is not worth the same as mine. I know more than they do and, more often than not, I know better than they do. I knew that they would enjoy performing at this concert. And I was right.

In a related corollary, I am of the opinion that self-esteem comes from actually achieving something great, rather than constantly being told that you simply are great–without a periodic demand to stand up and prove it. Singing on stage with three professional cantors and a full adult choir before a few hundred people is not an easy thing to do. It’s intimidating and scary and getting past your fears in order to sing–and dance–is a major achievement. It warrants praise. And feeling good about yourself.

I wanted my children to have that experience. To feel fear and overcome it, and to be commended for it afterwards. I knew that it would teach them valuable lessons not just about Russian-Jewish music, but about any challenge they might face in life.

Read the complete article at: and let me know what you think!

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