Thursday, January 5, 2012

Blessing of a Skinned Knee and Blessings of a B- by Wendy Mogel, Phd.

Although there is some solid psychology and some good advice in these books, I can't recommend them.  I had serious problems with the author's methodology. She brings an array of opinions that comes off more as a hodge-podge than a systematic study of Jewish sources.  What she cites is often only what she can tolerate (example: Traditional Judaism is generally good like Shabbos dinner; yet the role of the woman she can't see bringing into her home for her daughters.) She does not hesitate to cite Abraham Twersky, Miriam Adahan, and Mordechai Finley (a Reform rabbi from LA) in the same breath!  She can cite Chazal along with the gentile British psychologist Winnencott as if there is parity!!  Her chapter on G-d was for me absolute rubbish!  There is no reason to mention Jesus in a book that showcases rabbinic ideas no matter how cute the quote is from a child!  Most of the chapter discussed doubt about G-d and even justified questioning G-d's existence as if somehow that was a Jewish tradition!  All of her issues about Judaism come out in this book when read carefully.  I see much Southern California hang ups in it.  The book would have been better if it would have reflected Yiras Shomayim, fear of Heaven! But there was NONE.
     This book was written by someone whose own practice as a therapist plunged her into crisis and instead of finding a solution to her problems as a therapist changed course and now lectures as "an expert" so she does not have to suffer actual and real problems of children!  She justifies what she does by calling it "preventative mental health."  It is not preventative mental health but rather parent education pure and simple!!  She has to somehow relate what she does now to her former practice as a therapist! She is being highfalutin by calling parent education as preventative mental health.  I would rather recommend Twersky, Adahan or even Winnecott over this book and certainly not any sequel because at least I know that with those other authors I am getting a consistent message. 
           Nevertheless, the sequel is just as painful to read because of the mistakes in Jewish tradition like informing us that the mitzva of taking the lulav is at night!  She utilizes a famous rabbinic trait of citing the source from whom she heard the story, however, to cite a story from the public domain in the name of a particular Rabbi gives the incorrect impression that the rabbi is the original source of the story.
            As I said from the outset, the simple psychology in the books is solid; it's common sense: allow your children to learn from their mistakes and experiences and don't shelter them so much.  Allow them to experience the consequences of their actions so that they may learn from them. The books' uniqueness of citing the Rabbinic wisdom on the subject is, however, disappointing to one familiar with the tradition.