“Maybe this book is daring?” The famous A. S. Makarenko’s “Book for Parents” opens with these words. Then he writes, “Can I put the majestic burden of this immense theme on my shoulders?”
Perhaps, only in this way can you begin writing a book about upbringing at home – from hesitation. But, on the other hand, what book is not daring?
The difficulty of a book for parents is not in the theme. The difficulty is in the fact that readers have to be told about something highly unpleasant and touchy.
We all like it when someone teaches us something, but we don’t like it when we are taught how to live. If I am taught how to live then there must be something wrong with me, right? My personality is offended; I become tense, hot tempered. I shout, “Don’t teach me how to live!” or, “Stop lecturing me! I am not a little kid.”
But even little kids, hardly three years old, hate when they are taught how to live. Each child inaudibly cries to his mom, “Don’t teach me how to live!” A teenager wrote directly on the front of his t-shirt, “Don’t preach to me!” Once I saw such a teenager. And all great educators wrote that upbringing must be unnoticeable. Therefore, don’t preach to anyone!
But what shall we do with parenting at home? It only does one thing – teaches parents. To teach parents how to bring up children is to bring up parents.
But I don’t want to! I also don’t like it when someone teaches me morals, preaches to me, or insists on my self-improvement. When my personality is touched, it is as if an open nerve is touched.
To avoid morals, let’s take it from the other side.
There is a well known genre in published social research: why, for example, do people prefer urbanization, or why do they produce faulty machinery? Usually sociologists investigate difficulties and complexities of living. Many of them also write about failures in upbringing and search for reasons. Everyone asks who is guilty? One blames the family, others – the school, third – something else. Indeed, greater attention is paid to difficult children and the troubles with them. Nowadays, it seems to everyone, that they know all about the mistakes of upbringing – but what is upbringing itself? What does faultless upbringing look like? People do not want to tell each other tragic and intimidating stories, anymore. We must think and think, search for something deep and general, perhaps, even abstract, because the general thing is always abstract. It isn’t a subject to fear. “If an abstract truth is the truth,” L. Tolstoy wrote, “it will be the truth in reality.”
One usually writes, “The author invokes in us…” No! The author doesn’t invoke. This book publicly investigates the process of bringing up children, not difficult ones, but ordinary children. Let’s deal more with ordinary kids, and then there will be fewer difficult ones. Let’s try to understand what happens with us and our children when we bring them up, what power our different parental actions have, what is possible and impossible in raising children, and which results come from which causes.
Not without embarrassment, not without fear I offer this book. For an excuse I can only say one thing: I was not going to, I did not want to! For almost forty years I have dealt with children, brought up my own and other people’s kids. I have worked as a youth leader and a teacher, and written about children and for children. Once, ten years ago, I asked myself, why under the same conditions some families bring up good children, and other families – bad ones?
How could I know that this innocent, naive question, that people don’t ask themselves because it seems to them to be easy, drove me into ten years of hard work. It led to a maze, which does not have a name: philosophy – not philosophy, ethics – not ethics, and, of course, not psychology.
What would you describe as new? It is everything that the words “it appears that” can be applied to. It appears that this is not a very simple question! Even children know where children come from; but where do good children come from?
Parenting for everyone is quite a difficult science, as all sciences are. It does not instruct how to live and what to be. It does not even prescribe recipes for upbringing. It only investigates in which circumstances children will be all right, and in which circumstances they will definitely get into trouble.
Parenting For Everyone, by S.Soloveychik, Book1 Part 1 Chapter 3