Children don’t come with instruction manuals. How could they, when each individual is such a unique combination of genes, environmental impact and who knows what else? It’s this “x-factor” that the following parenting books seek to address. Each recognizes the challenge, victory, joy, misery, energy and exhaustion involved in becoming a parent while drawing upon the “what else” to provide parents–new and not-so-new–with a path toward raising menshlich children (children with integrity and honor and of noble character).
“Blessings and Baby Steps: The Spiritual Path of Parenthood” by Rabbi Ilana Grinblat. In this brand-new part parenting handbook, part spiritual diary, Rabbi Grinblat lets us share her struggles and triumphs during the early years of her children’s lives. Her understanding and interpretation of Torah delivers a remarkable foundation from which to view parenthood.
“The Blessing of a Skinned Knee: Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Self-Reliant Children” by Wendy Mogel. Based on her experiences raising her own children, working as a child psychologist and teaching parenting classes, Dr. Mogel provides an excellent approach to help parents avoid overindulging, overprotecting and overscheduling their children. Many preschools use this book as the basis for their parenting classes.
“How to Raise a Jewish Child: A Practical Handbook for Family Life” by Anita Diamant with Karen Kushner. Covering the Jewish calendar and its impact on every age group, Diamant and Kushner show us how to “set the stage” for a child’s introduction to Judaism. Ideas for everything from setting the table for Shabbat to “jazzing up the Passover seder” are included, as are all of the necessary blessings–in Hebrew, transliteration and English. This is a wonderful resource book for every family.
“Parenting as a Spiritual Journey: Deepening Ordinary and Extraordinary Events into Sacred Occasions” by Rabbi Nancy Fuchs-Kreimer. Using a typical day in the life of a parent as a framework for the insights she received from parents of many faiths, Rabbi Fuchs-Kreimer reveals the sacred moments that can be found in the simplest tasks associated with caring for children.
“The Modern Jewish Mom’s Guide to Shabbat” by Meredith L. Jacobs and “If I’m Jewish and You’re Christian, What Are the Kids?” by Andrea King. While not “parenting” books in the broad sense of the word, these are two books that I have found very helpful, interesting and well worth reading.
And just in case you haven’t heard, the latest parenting book to hit the bestseller list has a title that’s unprintable in this family newsletter but is focused on the timeless dilemma of getting children to bed. In reality, it’s a humor book for adults disguised as a children’s picture book. I’m sure everyone who knows parenting can appreciate a good laugh every now and then!