Babies do not come with an instruction manual, so it is imperative that we understand what we are trying to accomplish in all we invest in the next generation, Debbie Greenblatt said.
The Mesilas Yesharim by RaMCHaL lays it all out in the first chapter, she told Sunday’s Five Towns Community Collaborative Conference: understanding the obligations, goals, destination and means for the ride through parenthood.
The means of accomplishing this is chinuch, which can be broken down into two components — hafalah means activation, getting kids to do what they should do in the present, creating habits (such as setting the table for Shabbos, or cleaning up the Legos before leaving the house); hafnamah is about how the child feels and relates to what is learned, creating a connection to a bigger picture and positive feelings about it. Neither will work on its own; both elements must be engaged.
The best tool to accomplish chinuch is encouragement, but this only works when one encourages actual efforts, not talents. Encourage the child for something he has already done, even if it’s only a part of the task, and make it specific.
Create the proper environment through expressions of respect and love and optimism about life and the child himself, giving the benefit of the doubt (showing the child you trust him) and offering true forgiveness when mistakes are made.
The 30 most important minutes to spend with your child each day are the 10 minutes before they go off to school (to send the child out into the world with a positive ability to do their daily work); the 10 minutes when they return home from school (to reinforce that home is sanctuary from the outside world — everybody needs one); and the 10 minutes before they go to bed (to settle the scores of the day, allowing the child to truly rest in body, mind and spirit).