I interviewed psychologist and author Wendy Mogel today. If there's just one book you should read in the massive parenting genre, it's The Blessing of a Skinned Knee: Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Self-Reliant Children.
It boils down to this: in order to raise an independent, happy child, you must let him fall/fail and risk a literal/figurative skinned knee.
That was for young kids -- the kids who still love curling up in your lap and telling you you're the most beautiful, best mommy in the whole world.
Wendy's new book is for those children who now think you're the worst, ugliest, stupidest mommy who ever had the misfortune to step into their world.
Wendy says - in the Jewish tradition - we have to respect their yetzer hara, the evil inclination that rests in all of us, no matter how awful that yetzer can be:
"Like fire, the yetzer can be used for good or evil. Like fire, it must be protected and respected, but not extinguished."
We also talked about letting teens get a B minus, letting them get lost driving at night, and letting them experiment with sex, drugs and alcohol -- at least acknowledging that they will be tempted to experiment, and not freaking out if they do.
Because if they don't learn now how to deal with failure, fear, and real-life temptations while you're around to help them make sense of it all, what will happen when they go off alone into the world?
Major, unbridled yetzer hara.