Inspired Parenting, Part 1: Recognizing the Godliness Within
Photo: Leonid Mamchenkov, Flickr C.C.
We all know that there are no words that can express the life difference between a child that grows up with a healthy and dignified sense of self and a child that grows up without a healthy and dignified sense of self. It is night and day. It is a totally different life. It affects every decision and action a person chooses to make or does not choose to make. Damage in this area is extremely difficult to undo because you are dealing with the self itself.
Therefore, I believe it is always good to err on the side of permissiveness—whenever possible, to allow for children to make their own decisions, and then to note and cherish them for their unique traits and qualities. This is like water to their personas and will help them to grow and flourish into fulfilled versions of themselves.
In fact, the more you notice and identify the good points about a child, the more the child comes to identify with those points and to strengthen them. The more you relate to a child as an espouser of those positive qualities, the more the child appreciates his own uniqueness and gifts, comes to healthily love himself, and grows up balanced and happy to be alive.
This is what parenting is all about—positivity and proactive building. There is no wisdom in reactively cutting up a kid and his behaviour in order to fit him into a mold. However, there is great wisdom and creativity in searching within the child and his actions to find a good trait to focus on and emphasize, thereby building the child and his self-perception and esteem.
When a parent does this, the child will commit to that parent. This is because the child feels that you "get" him. You see what he is about. You see the value in him. You see his uniqueness and you view that as a good thing. He is an asset that is celebrated, not a liability that is tolerated.
This is a breath of fresh air for a child. It is life, because you have gotten to his essence.
By noting, cherishing, and celebrating these positive points of a child, you are recognizing the child as a soul. This is because only the points of goodness that a person exudes are reflective of the Godly soul that he or she is at their core. Thus, even if the majority of a child's actions are negative, that says nothing about the truth of that child since the reality of who he is only comes forth in the goodness. When a parent relates to a child with this in mind, the entire interaction is different. The parent rises above the smallness of the child's misdeeds and deals with the child as if those misdeeds are outside of who the child really is. His whole demeanor toward the child sends the message that he and the child both know deep down that the child is really only the good, and any negativity is external to the child's identity and mere happenstance when compared to the good.
Rabbi Eliyahu Yaakov is a sought after international speaker on Kabbalah, relationships, parenting, and life. His newly released book, Jewish By Choice: A Kabbalistic Take on Life & Judaism, recently hit #1 on Amazon's Best Seller list.