The Blessing of A Skinned Knee

This Virtual Book Club selection is The Blessing of a Skinned Knee by Wendy Mogel.

Last summer, one of the moms from my son's basketball team told me about Wendy Mogel's The Blessing of a Skinned Knee: Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Self-Reliant Children. My friend raved about it, saying it was the only parenting book that made any sense to her. I ordered the book the next day, and I, too, came to adore it. The book was originally published in 2001 -- a tough year to publish just about anything due to 9/11.

The paperback has experienced a grass-roots resurgence, and Mogel was profiled last October in the New York Times Magazine. Practical, common-sensical, easy to read, the book is particularly applicable to American parents raising children in urban, privileged settings. It is filled with advice on how to raise your children to respect you and other adults, how to partner with your children's teachers, and how to accept that your kids, like most children, benefit by being treating as "ordinary." Wendy Mogel finds her inspiration in Jewish teachings; these didn't speak to me at all. But her interpretations sure did.

What did you think?

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  February 23, 2007; 6:30 AM ET  | Category:  Virtual Book Club
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Comments

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Testing

Posted by: librarianmom | February 23, 2007 12:07 PM

I picked up this book a few months ago and have been telling EVERYONE about it ever since.

While I am not Jewish, I found both the religious and parenting information to be invaluable. So often, we parents make things harder than they are. By showing the value in rules and rituals, Mogel outlines solutions to the the more difficult parenting problems.

I have read a lot of parenting or self-help books over the years and this is, by far, the best!!

Posted by: Mytwokids78 | February 23, 2007 1:53 PM

I agree, absolutely. "The only parenting book that makes sense to me." (And I'm not Jewish, either -- )

Posted by: Margaret Murray | February 23, 2007 4:05 PM

The book offers a voice of sanity in our nutty world of hyper-parenting. The teachers at my kids' school love it. They have enough distance and perspective to see why the book's common sense wisdom is invaluable to kids over the long run.

Posted by: Leslie | February 24, 2007 11:33 AM

Leslie,
Are you wondering why you got so few comments? Only 4. Make no mistake about it,it was the Jewish connection.

Now you know what your blog audience is- notJewish and what they are-prejudice.

From a non Jewish minority Mom.

Posted by: AJ | February 26, 2007 11:05 AM

What? Liberals Anti Semites? Next we will discover that water is wet. Who would have believed?

Posted by: pATRICK | February 26, 2007 11:52 AM

I haven't had the chance to read this book. But I imagine lots of people just have not read it. It isn't because it is written by a Jewish author.

Posted by: foamgnome | February 26, 2007 2:02 PM

also, this was slipped in between daily entries at a time when the blog was broken for 1.5 days - maybe making more of a point about the entry in one of the daily columns would help draw attention to the fact that this is here.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 26, 2007 2:16 PM

Well, I *am* Jewish, but I had very mixed feelings about this book (which I read several years ago). I agree with a lot of what she says about excessive parenting, but I disagree very strongly with her comments that you should not be an advocate for your child. The author says that if your child has a teacher who dislikes or mistreats him (or is not teaching the subject satisfactorily), you should turn it into a learning experience rather than try to move your child into another class. But if an adult had an abusive, mean boss, they would certainly try to find another job! If my elderly parent had a caregiver that was mistreating them, I would certainly insist on finding someone else. I don't understand why a child should suffer in a negative environment when an adult would not.

There was another anecdote from the book that made me very upset, in which the author talks about a young girl who vomited every day for several days because she was so scared to go to an overnight summer camp. The parents made her go anyway, and the author praises them for it. I'm sorry, but if you are stressing your kids out so much that they are throwing up, you are not doing a good job!! I mean, isn't summer camp supposed to be fun??? Why would you send a kid who didn't want to go?

Basically, I think that children should be treated with respect. This means that they should be doing things for themselves whenever possible, but it also means not forcing them to do things that you would not force yourself to do. I think the golden rule should really apply to childrearing.

Posted by: Reston | February 27, 2007 10:00 AM

Hey AJ-

Want to know the difference between Jews and "non Jewish minority" (read: African American) Moms?

When there's something fishy going on, YOU assume racism.

When I saw there were only half a dozen comments, I assumed that comments were broken.

Wonder who was right, AJ? Turns out I was.

Posted by: Bob | March 7, 2007 9:39 AM

----There was another anecdote from the book that made me very upset, in which the author talks about a young girl who vomited every day for several days because she was so scared to go to an overnight summer camp. The parents made her go anyway, and the author praises them for it. I'm sorry, but if you are stressing your kids out so much that they are throwing up, you are not doing a good job!! I mean, isn't summer camp supposed to be fun??? Why would you send a kid who didn't want to go?----

Because growth and development almost always require traveling outside of one's comfort zone. Good parents do what is best for their children, which is quite often different from what children want to do. If children only did what they wanted to do, most of them would eat junk food for every meal, not do any homework, stay up really, really late every night, never go to the doctor or dentist,... along with a host of other unhealthy, self-limiting behaviors.

The summer camp incident mentioned in the quote above is on pages 107-108. The girl only threw up the night before the camp started. Once she arrived at the camp, she had a wonderful time and couldn't wait to go back the next summer.

I'm a little over halfway done with this book right now and LOVE it. (Thank you, Leslie, for suggesting it!) Dr. Mogel's observations are insightful and her advice is very good. If it matters, I am not Jewish.

Posted by: MBA Mom | March 12, 2007 7:55 PM

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