If you were to poll our community, the average parent would admit, “We probably give our children too much.” And while this sentiment may not be clearly spoken out by young parents, once children hit the teenage years, most parents upon reflection would say, “I wish we had been more firm with them when they were younger. We’ve probably spoiled them. They would have been better off, had they not be given quite so much.”
We live in permissive times, and parents seem almost afraid to say the word “no” to their children. Yet intuitively, we understand that we are injuring our children by not being firm, by not setting limits, and following through with consequences when they go past those limits. The challenge for parents is to find the balance between letting our children know that we love them unconditionally and setting limits that educate them in our expectations.
Using the backdrop of some of the most famous personalities in all of history for reference, the Midrash presents us with some of the foundations of effective parenting.