Sunday, July 5, 2009

The long view

Parenting often involves balancing the here and now while at the same time being able to project years if not decades into the future. Our sages say that a wise person anticipates the outcomes of his actions. One has to be able to deal with today's challenges and needs but also to envision what you'd like to imbue your child with in order for him to actualize his potential in the future and become the adult he was meant to be (not always synonymous with what the parent wants). A few years ago, I attended a parenting class given by a student of Rebetzin Spetner, a renowned educator here in Israel. One of the things that really stuck in my mind was that if a parent decides to correct a certain negative behavior in a child, it has to be something that either hurts the parent/ child relationship or something that is to a child's detrement in some way, otherwise it's better to ignore that behavior. And very importantly, a parent has to make sure that what he is punishing isn't the child's personality. A person can never change his innate nature, you have to work with what you have. It's imperative therefore, to have a realistic picture of who your child is, by really getting to know your child. Parenting mostly involves the parent working on his own character. Parenting and marriage are really the best middos workouts one could wish for if used properly. Often it involves giving up instant gratification for long term gain. Very rarely do problems have instantaneous solutions. One really has to learn how to take the long view while appreciating and enjoying the journey.


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