March 2009

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2009 JF

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Raising A Child With Soul

Raising a Mensch

Raising a Child With Soul

-- Fern Sidman

In our fast-paced hedonistic culture, raising children with stellar character traits can be a daunting responsibility for any parent. Despite our doughty efforts to shelter our children from the ominous presence of forces that are antithetical to Torah teachings, it appears that the lure of societal decadence is a definitive factor that holds sway with our youth.

Enter veteran parenting educator, Slovie Jungreis-Wolff, who comes with 13 years of experience teaching parents how to bring up a child who will become a true "mensch". In her recently published book, Raising A Child With Soul, Mrs. Wolff, (the daughter of Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis), takes on tough parenting issues including disciplining with love, how to effectively communicate, diffusing tensions that arise from sibling rivalry, the inculcation of gratitude and appreciation in our children and establishing priorities, among others.

This book is a hybrid of sorts; combining practical parenting guidelines along with a delicious selection of poignant stories and a vast array of Torah related concepts that are presented with a palpable degree of warmth and love. The predicate of this book emanates from the greatest of all parenting sources; our Holy Torah. Mrs. Wolff's upbringing in a home completely imbued with Torah concepts serves as her most treasured oracle.

"The beauty behind the Torah path to raising children is the fact that Torah is immutable. It is a constant, never changing, eternal truth," says the author in her chapter entitled, "Raising Spiritual Children". She advises parents that a child's spiritual education begins at birth and our homes must represent much more than just a physical dwelling, but rather, we must work assiduously to transform them into a vibrant center for genuine holiness. The creation of a mikdash me'at - a miniature sanctuary, should be our ultimate goal.

Rather than viewing our parenting duties as mere drudgery, the author reminds us that, "The Creator of the Universe has chosen this specific soul to be brought in to this world through you. Raising this child with soul becomes your life mission. What an awesome and holy task!"

The modalities for communicating our standards, trust and respect to our children is beautifully brought to the fore through the outline of the Shema Yisroel prayer. "Many parents mistakenly believe that communicating with children is defined only by their words. The Shema so eloquently teaches us that we impart crucial values to our families through our very being," observes the author.

Moreover, you can rest assured that this book does not skirt the issue of greatest concern to today's parents. There is little doubt in anyone's mind that out of control children are fast becoming a ubiquitous phenomenon. Meting out discipline with love is courageously and compassionately discussed in both salient and nuanced detail.

"Children who lack discipline grow without understanding the limits of acceptable behavior. They often cross the line and then can't comprehend why we get so upset," says the author. If this statement resonates with parents and educators who are experiencing difficulties in the discipline department, then what follows is a real eye opener.

Other chapters address such paramount issues as building self-esteem, teaching compassion to our children, defining the Torah definition of true happiness, inculcating our children with gratitude and appreciation for all that they have, having our children learn to deal with disappointments, how to instill cooperation and harmony amongst siblings and how parents can learn to prioritize. Each of these is given more than ample explanation as the author delves in to Torah wisdom with such ease and finesse.

The author's writing style is comparable to someone who speaks with the authority of a marriage counselor and child psychologist, yet her sage advice is reminiscent of a heartwarming conversation with a voluble grandmother or aunt. The trajectory of this compelling page turner is an exceptionally informative and cozy ride through the vicissitudes of parenthood as it explores in great depth the prosaic issues that parents grapple with on a daily basis.

By the conclusion of this parenting journey, one simply cannot leave the same as one entered. The inspirational words written here will reach deep in to the crevices of the reader's heart and soul, as one re-learns the joy of parenting and truly sheps nachas from the kinderlach. This book must take precedence on the "to be read" list of every parent, teacher, guidance counselor and principal and no home or library should be without it.

To view previous editions of "Raising a Mensch", please click here.

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