17 April 2007

"Chanokh lana'ar al pi darko"

["Teach a child according to his way", --sefer Mishleh]

In an earlier post, I have commented on parents who have handed over parental control to rebbes out of a lack of confidence in their own parenting. Now, I am looking at this passuk from a different perspective. What does it mean to be "fair"? Does it mean to treat everyone equally (including ignoring each person's unique situations) or does it really mean to assess each person's needs differently?

I feel that it means to follow the second opinion. After a search online, I found that the Vilna Gaon
and I see eye to eye[side note, a friend of mine found out that he is a descendant of VG after finding the name of one of his ancestors in a book about VG]. (It has been a while since I found the quote so apologies to the person who posted it on the Web.)

"The Vilna Gaon asks, 'Why do you have to teach a child according to his way, why not according to our way? The reason is, because each person is born with a unique nature. We have to train the individual according to his or her character and personality traits - the method that will work for that person.'"

As children we see our parents treating our siblings differently as "unfair", but then, when we become parents ourselves, we start to see the wisdom behind it. However, this is something that cool yiddishe maidel fails to understand when I am dealing with light of my life. While it may not be "fair" to compare my children to each other, I will anyway.

When CYM was 2 1/2, she was clearly more "verbal" (using more words) than LOML is currently. However, I can tell LOML detailed instructions (as in a string of sentences) and she shows complete comprehension while I had to (and still do) break it down for CYM. The girls are three years apart in age. By necessity, I have to do things differently for each of them. CYM can be left for a playdate at a friend's house while LOML still needs constant supervision.

Just something that I have reflected on and decided to share with you...

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