Thank you Lisa Belkin for the grand introduction to my new favorite person, Wendy Mogel. Wish we did it over a glass of wine or cup of coffee, but I’ll take what I can get. Anonymous, cold hard commenting on columns that strike a chord. It works for me. You done good.
The New York Times Motherlode parenting column highlighted a rational, human, realistic, real-life approach to childrearing. No crazy self-help crap, no helicoptering, no excuses, no special circumstances required. Just authentic advice that makes sense.
In The Blessing of a B Minus: Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Resilient Teenagers author and, gasp don’t-let-it-scare-you psychologist Wendy Mogel gives perspective to raising teenagers. That they are supposed to be the way they are, anything less, and we’d be creating monsters.
Which, in my not-so-humble-opinion, we most certainly are. Our teenagers are the little toddlers grown up on the outside, but still figuring it out on the inside. When we react to absurd behavior irrationally, we are being the teenagers just when they need an adult most in their lives.
Here’s a few of Mogel’s nuggets of wisdom lifted from Belkin’s column:
1. Teenagers need to make dumb mistakes to get smart.
2. Be ALERT but not ALARMED.
3. Be compassionate and concerned but not enmeshed.
4. Love them but do not worship them like idols or despise them when they let you down.
5. Be observant without spying or prying.
10. Remind yourself that they are unlikely to fulfill all of your dreams or all of your nightmares.
11. Remember that a snapshot of your teenager today is not the epic movie of her life.
13. Plan parental obsolescence, raise them to leave you. The Talmud requires that parents teach their child how to swim.
14. Put the oxygen mask on yourself before you put it on your child.
15. Find support in other adults instead of letting shame or fear about your teenager’s twisting path cause you to isolate yourself.
Read Belkin’s column, she offers more of Mogel’s delicious details that will make you feel like you’re doing a great job, or point you in the direction to do a better one.
Mogel calls it compassionate detachment. No easy feat for any mom, but extraordinarily difficult for the moms I see day in and day out tying shoes, prepping for SATs, arranging dates, screaming at coaches, and bringing snacks onto a bus of high school students so their tummies don’t get hungry.
If I wrote a book, it would be a much harsher list of tidbits than those Mogel provides.
- Shut up and listen to your kid.
- Your job’s not over because she’s 16. It’s only just started.
- She’s not the bitch you think she is. Or perhaps she is, but deal with it.
- Condoms are much more practical than virginity cards and promise rings combined.
- No, they can’t drink in our basement. Keys or no keys. Not gonna happen. No way, no how.
- Invest in a math tutor over the private striker trainer for soccer. Ditto on SAT prep class.
- Don’t do your kids homework. Ever.
- Your kid is smarter, kinder, more generous than you know. He just doesn’t show you.
- Yes, graduating high school is mandatory. So is having a job. Get one.
I could go on…but this was supposed to be an inspiring, heart warming post about the powers of Wendy Mogel. Not the bitterness and cynicism of moi.