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The Blessing of a Skinned Knee: Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Self-Reliant Children Paperback – November 1, 2001

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Product Details

  • Series: Compass
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (November 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142196002
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142196007
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (148 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,054,253 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Frustrated with a therapeutic practice that "shifted too frequently to be an anchor" for parents struggling with issues like overindulgence and overscheduling, clinical psychologist Mogel turned to her religious heritage for ways to help her clients and her own family "find grace and security" in an increasingly complex world. "In the time-tested lessons of Judaism, I discovered insights and practical tools that spoke directly to these issues," writes Mogel, who left her psychology practice in order "to help parents look at their children's anxieties and desires using a different lens." Digging into the rich traditions of the Torah, the Talmud and other Jewish teachings, Mogel builds a parenting blueprint that draws on core spiritual values relevant to families of all faiths. With warmth and humor, she offers strategies for encouraging respect and gratitude in children, and cautions against overprotection ("we treat our children's lives like we're cruise ship directors who must get them to their destinationDadulthoodDsmoothly, without their feeling even the slightest bump or wave") and the pressure of "Lake Wobegon parenting" (a reference to Garrison Keillor's fictional town where "all the children are above average"). Her thoughtful observations consistently illuminate and reassure. Impassioned, lyrical and eminently practical, this inspiring volume is a real treasure. Agent, Betsy Amster. (Jan.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


''Impassioned, lyrical, and eminently practical, this inspiring volume is a real treasure.'' --Publishers Weekly (starred review)

''Although she clearly draws on Jewish teachings, as well as on her psychology training, much of her wisdom is applicable to families of all faiths.'' --Library Journal

''Carrington MacDuffie narrates with sincerity and intent…Mogel's insights are certain to help parents get a better grasp on when to draw the line, and when to cut it.'' --AudioFile --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

Customer Reviews

I highly recommend this to every parent.
L. Smith
This is a very solid, sweet book, full of practical, down to earth advice based on solid principles of good values.
I read this book after reading about it in the NY Times and I enjoyed it.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

162 of 167 people found the following review helpful By A. Reid VINE VOICE on October 20, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I just finished this last night, and I plan to go back through it again. It's one of the better books on raising children that I've ever read. Mogel is a child psychologist with a definite slant--for her, a lot of the answers to parenting problems lie in encouraging spiritual growth, in ourselves and in our children. You don't have to be Jewish to find great material in this book--I'm not--but you definitely need to accept the premise that human beings are happier in a spiritually enriched environment.

I have already started implementing some of Mogel's suggestions for fostering responsibility in children and encouraging them to be grateful for what they have (as opposed to constantly needing more to be satisfied). Moreover, I mean to stay mindful of her emphasis on a parent's need to accept a child's basic nature. If you can name the personality trait in your child that drives you insane, Mogel says, you have already named his greatest strength. Helping to raise him to his greatest potential involves teaching him how to utilize his nature, not how to subvert it. Unlike some modern psychological parenting texts, _The Blessing of a Skinned Knee_ doesn't pretend that children are blank slates to be filled with whatever we please. Instead, Mogel offers practical suggestions for working with the material we're given.

One of the elements of the book that I would most share with my friends involves discipline. Mogel breaks down transgressions by intent and offers concrete ways to deal with them compassionately and calmly. She several times references Biblical exhortations to discipline--not in a pro-spanking stance, but in reminding parents that this is a responsibility that comes with the territory.
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54 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Roy Young on January 19, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I have read countless parenting books and consulted professional child and marriage psychologists for guidance in raising my two wonderful daughters. In comparison, Dr. Mogel's The Blessing of a Skinned Knee is WISDOM, not guidance.
Her book helped me to recognize that my responsibility is to be concerned most with building strength of character, not strength of grades and achievement. That I need to help my nine-year old and seven-year old with WHO they are, not WHAT they are. Our achievement-driven age sends the opposite message, and, consequently, it is so easy to lose sleep over the wrong things.
In an inspirational story of personal and professional transformation, Dr. Mogel tells us of how her own search for effective parenting strategies led her to discover that a religious tradition -- in her case Judaism -- gives her a structure for making healthy parenting choices. As parent raising two daughters and as professional psychologist offering advice to parents and teachers, she gives us a framework upon which to base our decisions and behavior to help our children grow into healthy, independent adults.
With this new understanding, I re-read some of The Blessing of a Skinned Knee before going to bed each night, and my sleep is getting better.
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44 of 48 people found the following review helpful By A Month of Sundays on March 21, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A friend of mine recommended this book to me when I had spoken to her about battling feelings of guilt as a new parent. This book is splendid for helping parents to feel secure in their parental authority and confident about setting boundaries. I suspect that some people could misread this book as encouraging tyrannical behavior or giving permission to disconnect from involvement in your child's daily concerns. In fact, the book encourages parents to remember that, ultimately, they are the decision makers and not every decision requires "buy in" from your child. Likewise, a child must learn responsibility, which involves being allowed to make some mistakes. Both of these concepts are presented gently and with careful consideration of the needs of both child and parent.
As a parenting book, I can highly recommend this for any reader able to take what is wanted and leave the rest. If you tend to be an all or nothing thinker, this may not be the ideal read for you. As a book on Jewish teachings, I can not judge as I am not Jewish and am not educated in Jewish theology. I found the considerations of Jewish teachings in the book to be useful and thought provoking, and I think any Christian would find it so.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By KLM on January 12, 2010
Format: Paperback
I am a developmental psychologist and I think this is the best parenting book I have ever read. Recent research suggests that children today experience significantly higher rates of many forms of mental distress compared with children 50 or 60 years ago. Something is wrong with our culture and how our children are parented. Parents need encouragement, wisdom and helpful techniques. This book provides all three. I used this book with a parents in a church discussion group and it was very successful. The principles that the author endorses seem to me the perfect anecdote for a culture which can be toxic to raising mentally healthy children.

I found absolutely nothing objectionable in this book. I would hardly call it a "tough love" approach to parenting, as some reviewers suggested. Setting firm boundaries for children is NOT demeaning or abusive. Some of the reviewers of this book criticize the fact that it is not about Jewish parenting and that is exactly right. This is a book for all parents, regardless of their faith community or lack thereof. It uses Jewish teachings to illustrate some key concepts of good parenting in general.

Some reviewers also seized on the author's statement about girls, math and science to suggest that the book is sexist. Again, I see nothing sexist about noting that we live in a culture in which girls are pushed to achieve in traditionally male-dominated fields as well as in all the traditionally female-dominated fields.

I heartily recommend this book to all parents who want to raise happy, well-adjusted children.
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More About the Author

Dr. Wendy Mogel is a clinical psychologist and author of the New York Times bestselling parenting book, "The Blessing of a Skinned Knee." Her book about raising resilient teenagers, "The Blessing of a B Minus," was released in 2010. A popular keynote speaker, she lectures at conferences and schools around the world. In the summer of 2014 she had the pleasure of giving a TEDx talk called "The Ben Franklin Life Hack" at the Burning Man art and music festival in the Nevada desert.

Please visit her website: for a full biography, to see her upcoming schedule and to follow her on Twitter. She is currently interviewing students, scientists and school nurses for her next parenting book, a guide to the modern choreography of conversations. Chapters will include the art of talking to babies, children, teenagers, your own parents, your spouse or partner, yourself and the dead.