I have just finished a very interesting book by the American psychologist Lisa Damour called Under Pressure. It follows an earlier book –Untangled. They both focus specifically on the challenges of bringing up girls but much of what she says is also relevant to boys. I would recommend both books.
I want to highlight two things from the book.
The first is that children have a public face which they show at school. Then there is a private face at home when they can relax and let their emotions out. It is important to realise that your child may just want to sound off about their day without wanting action to be taken. Children can also be very good at transference so they will leave an issue with you and then be quite happy because you now have the problem and they can relax and get on with enjoying their evening. This can be very uncomfortable for us as adults as we do not like to see our children upset but, sometimes, it is best just to be patient and see if it is still a problem the next day before taking action. This enables children to build resilience by understanding that their mood and feelings can improve without direct intervention from adults.
The second point is the mixed messages we send out about honesty. We quite rightly want to bring our children up to be honest and truthful but this can lead girls in particular to feel that they have to share every detail of their lives with their friends which can be unhelpful for them. As adults we know we do not always tell the whole truth as to do so might be hurtful. So we teach our young children that they should not comment, for example on someone’s appearance or if they are not enjoying a visit to an elderly relative. If someone asks us to a social event that we do not want to go to, we have graceful ways to decline which leave the friendship intact. The crucial thing is the motivation: if you are less than totally honest out of a desire to be kind to the other person rather than from the intention to deceive, then that is probably the right thing to do. But we should never use this as a reason to avoid taking responsibility for something we have done wrong or in order to mislead.
Have a good Shabbos,
Mrs K Brice