[See Wednesday's Picture of the Day at Life in Israel]
Over the past couple of years, as my oldest child has moved into teenage years, I've noticed a change in the skills needed for parenting. This is obvious once you think about it – why shouldn't parenting change as children change? – but I'm trying to put my finger on how the needed skill-set changes.
It seems to me that parenting younger children requires four skills: Patience, Advance Planning, Physical Stamina, Confidence-Building.
Patience enables you to deal with frustrations as well as tedium, whether they are a product of the child's will or the child's world.
Advance Planning enables you to avoid problems in the first place, by setting up your child for success.
Physical stamina is critical, from midnight feedings/changings to the long hours needed in blending parenting with the rest of life.
Confidence-Building is huge, in helping children mature with a sense of what they can do, and how they can interact in a healthy way.
I don't know that any of these skills are less necessary with teenagers, but it seems to me that as parents shift from the role of Maker to the role of Counselor, other skills become equally important, or more important: Tzimtzum, Insight, Subtlety and Respect.
Tzimtzum in knowing how not to speak, and how not to be visible in a way that intimidates or encroaches.
Along with tzimtzum comes Subtlety in expressing ideas in ways they will receive well.
Insight in understanding what's behind your child's conduct, or the conduct of those around him/her.
Respect in understanding and appreciating what your children accomplish.
What do you think? Where am I wrong, or what am I missing?