Grandpa was right: a little hardship breeds character
I read "The Blessing of a Skinned Knee: Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Self-Reliant Children" (Wendy Mogel) a while ago, and was recently reminded by a friend how good it is. Mogel is a former child psychologist who now actively practices her Judaism, and it's in this context that she forwards her thesis: that in our quest to make life "extraordinary" for our children, we undermine their ability to find happiness in normal life. Usually, this setup would make me want to run screaming from a parenting book. Psychology AND religion! One of the reasons we started Parent Hacks is because we were tapped out on expert advice. But, this book speaks with humor and humility, and is full of wisdom I respect and try to practice.
It's all about how the minor discomforts in a kid's life -- dealing with boredom, having to respect elders and rules, wrestling with self-control, etc. -- teach strength and character, and ultimately set kids up for a happier life.
"No duh," right? But one can lose sight of these simple truths. No one wants to be the bad guy, as we often must be as parents. Sometimes it's easier to go for the short-term happy (give him the lollipop) than the long-term happy (teach him the joys of anticipation and self-control), especially at 5PM.
Everything Mogel writes about is common sense, but her lovely examples and gentle humor make this such a pleasant read that it all sounds new again. And although she draws her theme from traditional Jewish teachings, this is not a "Jewish" book, per se. I think most anyone, including those who are not religious, would find value in, and even enjoy this book.