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Dear Readers,

I received this letter anonymously and I thought that it was a very meaningful letter. Most parents want to raise self-confident children who have good middos and are high-quality people, but this is a hard feat. Unfortunately, we all make mistakes in life, but one of the most challenging situations is bringing up children. This letter is from a grown up child who has learned a number of excellent ideas about child rearing. I always say that an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure. If we can all learn how to parent effectively, then this world would be a better place. I give many parenting workshops because I believe so strongly in the importance of good parenting. I implore my readers to heed this child’s advice no matter what stage of life you are in now. It is never too late to try and parent correctly even if mistakes were already made. Hatzlocha!

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A Letter To My Parent(s),

TEN TIPS ON HOW TO RAISE ME:

  1. Do you love me? Do you really love me? If so, then please let me know. Don’t assume that it is self-understood, because it is not. Tell it to me again and again. Don’t stop, even when I’m older. It is the one thing that you can never say enough. And please say it like you mean it – it makes all the difference!
  2. Look for the best in me. Find at least one talent that I have. Encourage it and build on it. Help me develop it to the maximum. Send me to take lessons; whether it’s in art, dance, or writing. If you can’t afford it, don’t let that stand in my way. You can always buy me a coloring book, an art set, ballerina slippers or a calligraphy pen. Just show and tell me what my talents are. In this way I will always remember that there is something that I’m good at. Also, compliment me often and specifically. I know there will be many things I do wrong, but please try to focus on the things I do right and help me develop the best version of me!
  3. Please get for yourself a support system. A rabbi, teacher, counselor, friend, etc. Please don’t tell me all your problems. Though I can handle small ones (a virus, a messy kitchen, a lost item), please don’t burden me with big ones.
  4. Never ever discuss any issues I might have with my siblings. If necessary, speak to a rabbi, teacher, counselor, etc. Also please do not discuss any problems they might have with me. It makes me uncomfortable; it also isn’t fair to them!
  5. Teach me responsibility at a young age. Make fixed chores and implement them. It will get things done and keep the house clean. I will be contributing and feel part of the household. Even if I resist, help me learn to be responsible.
  6. Remember my birthday! Remember that sentimental gifts can be more meaningful than material gifts. A hug and a kiss mean so much more than a loveless party. A beautifully inscribed card is more precious than an expensive gift. It really is the thought that counts!
  7. Teach me respect by respecting others. Let me hear compliments, and praise my (other) parent. Never say a cross word to them or about them. Not only does it bother me, but it harms me as well. Try not to fight in front of me, but if you do, please also show me when you make up.
  8. You are my parent; not G-d! Don’t preach to me about Yiddishkeit (Judaism). Teach me by example – by your love and devotion that you have for it. Don’t tell me, or force me to keep Torah and mitzvahs because it will make you happy. I have to have my own relationship with Hashem (G-d). I will get there at my own pace. Just give me time and space!
  9. Questions and Answers: Let me ask questions. Never make me feel guilty for asking them. Don’t lie to me; even if my question has you stumped, uncomfortable or unsure of how to answer. Questions are the key to many things.Wisdom, clarity… and answers. Don’t deprive me of them!
  10. Accept me for who I am. I am me. I am not an extension of you, nor will I ever be. Don’t push your hopes and dreams on me. The best way to give, is to give what the person needs, not what you think they need. So let me be me. It’s the best gift you can ever give me!

I want to take this opportunity to thank you for everything you do for me. Don’t underestimate my appreciation for you, and for all that you do for me. Thank you!

Thank you and Thank you again!

Sincerely, your child

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Dr. Yael Respler is a psychotherapist in private practice who provides marital, dating and family counseling. Dr. Respler also deals with problems relating to marital intimacy. Letters may be emailed to deardryael@aol.com. To schedule an appointment, please call 917-751-4887. Dr. Orit Respler-Herman, a child psychologist, co-authors this column and is now in private practice providing complete pychological evaluations as well as child and adolescent therapy. She can be reached at 917-679-1612. Previous columns can be viewed at www.jewishpress.com and archives of Dr. Respler’s radio shows can be found at www.dryaelrespler.com.