163 of 168 people found the following review helpful
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. I wish that some of the more stern parents of my acquaintance would read her arguments against shaming children. Mogel does not believe that discipline requires humiliation. Those who swing the other way--me included--could benefit from her section on restitution. My 8-year-old suffers an overly developed sense of guilt, and I am hoping that following her suggestions for restitution will allow him to feel a healthy sense of closure and relief.
While every reader of books of this type needs to exercise discretion in determining what will work in his or her household, there's a lot of solid advice here. It doesn't address every situation or every concern, and I don't believe it intends to. What it does is provide a framework for a new way of thinking about parenting which might be useful when you encounter those situations not covered.
55 of 58 people found the following review helpful
on January 19, 2001
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.
47 of 51 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 2003
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.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on January 12, 2010
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.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on June 10, 2002
After seeing the recent trend in families that I know trying to let their kids "become individuals", a book to remind you that it is okay to be a parent to your kids! Too many of the parents I know are so busy trying to not stiffle their kids, that they neglect to teach them common courtesy and respect for their elders. This book is not the solution to all behavioral problems with kids, only an insightful reminder to look at our own interaction with our children. It is a reminder that before you can teach children self-respect they need to learn how to respect others.
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on March 12, 2004
So what can I say that has not been said? This is a great little book! So I'll highlight some issues she brings up that I hope will catch your attention enough to investigate it.
I appreciate her point about children's freedom. Most people don't realize that statistically speaking, children are FAR more likely to be hurt/killed automobile accident than they are by being abducted by a stranger (Most kids who are hurt by others are harmed by family), and that the rate of crimes against children has NOT increased in the past 30 years. And yet so many of us behave as if our children can not be unsupervised for a second--can not walk the dog, kick a ball around in a field or ride their bike to the pool. This is really wrong, and as the author notes, robs children of the best part of childhood to appease our own irrational fantasies. We SHOULD be shaking in our boots that our car will be hit by an SUV when our child is in it, but we don't think twice about taking our kids for a drive.
Lastly, I loved her emphasis on letting the child experience making choices and experiencing relatively low cost consequences. For example, if a child chooses to have a messy room, don't help them find things that get buried, or go in to fetch the laundry from the floor. Letting them experiencing the natural consequences for thier choices is far more powerful than a million lectures. And later on, if your teen sleeps in class/dosen't do homework/skips school, don't rush in to blame the teacher--make the kid take responsibility and give him the dignity of learning to solve his own problems! It shows that I'm a former teacher here, and I loved what she had to say about supporting your child's education by supporting their character development.
My only real complaint is that she confuses being spiritual with worshiping a god. The fact that you do not believe in god dosen't mean you can't teach a child to feel awe, humility and embrace tikkun olam! Besides, are we really supposed to start believing in something irrational to help our children become more independant and rational?
126 of 159 people found the following review helpful
on January 1, 2004
I had very mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, I agree with the author's premise that parents should be parents, and not try to be their child's best friend. On the other hand, some of her other arguments were very troubling to me. Among these were the idea that you should never be an advocate for your child, and that you should allow him to handle all his problems himself. The author fails to account for the fact that young children lack the experience and the skills necessary to cope with every situation; that's why they HAVE parents! Not every bad experience is a "learning experience," and I think some of the advice in this book advocates a parenting style that borders on neglect. Perhaps this is because Dr. Mogel is a therapist in an affluent Beverly Hills neighborhood, and she simply doesn't see kids with "real problems."
Additionally, she states that parents should not expect their children to be good at everything. This is obviously good advice, but then she goes on to talk about how terrible it is that girls in the modern era are supposed to be good at math and science. Exactly what is she trying to get at here? That girls shouldn't be encouraged to do well in "non-traditional" subjects? Indeed, this does seem to be what she is saying.
Finally, one of the most disturbing anecdotes in this book is about a young girl who is so anxious about going away to camp that she repeatedly throws up all night long. Dr. Mogel holds this up as a great example, because the parents make her go anyway. If you are making your kid so anxious and stressed that she throws up all night, YOU ARE NOT DOING A GOOD JOB AS A PARENT. THIS IS NOT OKAY.
In sum, I would say that her underlying message, which is to parent your children and not let them run the show, is a good one. But many of her examples are distressing to say the least. And finally, she never gives any advice as to how to implement her philosophy. For example, if she says, "don't let your kid do X," she never gives any strategies for how to deal with it when your kid inevitably does X.
In my opinion, if you want some real "no-nonsense" parenting advice, call up Grandma. There's not much here that's useful.
20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on March 2, 2005
I am not Jewish, but still found this book extremely relevant to my own parenting. Although Dr. Mogel uses Judaism and Hebrew as a basis for the underlying structure of her presentation, the issues she raises can be applied to any children and any faith.
I found it refreshing to read a parenting book that actually tells you that your child may not be above average and as a parent it is your responsibility to nurture your child's own unique traits and talents--not try to mold them into the next nobel laureate. As she quotes a Hassidic saying, "If your child has a talent to be a baker, don't tell him to be a doctor."
As the title of the book implies, Dr. Mogel also suggests that it's okay for your children to be exposed to hurt and other unpleasantries of life. She chooses to call these "blessings" and her chapters include titles such as " The Blessing of Longing, The Blessing of Work, The Blessing of Self-Control, and The Blessing of Time."
The book also heavily emphasizes the importance of tradition in family. Dr. Mogel does this through the practice of Judaism and using the traditions of Judaism to bind her family together. I think this concept can be applied to any religion, or if not a religion than a series of ongoing family traditions that bind your family together.
I found this book to be very thought provoking and much of it resonated with me at a very basic level, "Yes. This makes sense!"
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on May 29, 2001
A (Catholic) friend gave me this book a few days ago, and I devoured it within 24 hours. It is absolutely wonderful -- straightforward, wise, and warm without being remotely preachy. Wendy Mogel is a terrific writer, to be sure -- the book is truly a joy to read -- but more important, the wisdom and clarity her book imparts is invaluable. I intend to recommend this book to everyone I know -- Jewish or no, parents or no.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on October 10, 2006
I would recommend this book to any parent who is experiencing trouble with overprotected and/or overindulged children. Though I am myself not Jewish I liked how the author - based on Jewish beliefs - reassured parents that it is ok to set limits and ask your children to pay you the due respect. Afterall, you are supposed to be your child's parent and not his/her friend! Parenting is not about pampering or protecting but about preparing for life. Even from a non-religious point of view the book made some good points; a lot of the other suggestions made in the book were pretty much common sense but I guess that also depends where you come from. What I liked most about it though was that it encouraged parents to accept that a kid might just be "normal" and it is somtimes more important to accept that than to try to turn your child into something it is not (read: a genius). It's a good book - read it.