If you have children between 11 and 20 (or if you plan on your kids reaching those ages, for that matter), go get this book right now. Mogel's take on parenting teens is compassionate, wise, and inspired. Much like her earlier book The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, which was geared toward parents of younger children, Mogel draws from her understanding of Jewish teachings to reframe some of the challenges teens face (and the associated frustrations of parenting them) into blessings.
In The Blessing of a B Minus, Mogel reminds us of, among others:
- The blessing of strange fruit: Accepting the unique glory of your teen
- The blessing of a B minus: The real lessons of homework, chores, and jobs
- The blessing of problems to solve: Learning from bad judgment and stress
- The blessing of breaking the rules: Real life as ethics lab
Am I Jewish? No. And you don't have to be either to thoroughly enjoy this book. The ideas that Mogel discusses are universal and accessible for all. For example, she uses the story of the Israelites' wandering in the desert with Moses. She notes that the presence of God was a "'pillar of cloud by day...and a pillar of fire by night.' This beautiful image is a model for parents whose children are wandering in the wilderness of adolescence. Like God, you stand by, providing shade and light when needed, but mostly you stand back. You wait to see if your child can solve problems on his own before stepping in; you let him experience the natural consequences of his poor decisions; and you give him the freedom to make mistakes, even big ones."
As the parent of three children (14, 17, 19) it's a great relief to read such a wonderful book that eases some of the anxieties we parents face during this stage of parenting. As a doctoral student studying parenting and child development, I'm just a little jealous I didn't write this!
[edited to say: I should add that I don't completely mesh with one of the chapters, The Blessing of the Hangover, and some of you might not either. There are still great insights in that one; I just try to keep my teens further away from those mistakes than perhaps some parents do. Having said that, I still think teaching and then stepping away and allowing teens to make decisions (and mistakes) is what these years are all about.]