We want to introduce you to Haim Ginott today. He is, sadly, no longer with us but over 50 years after his death in 1973, his wisdom can still startle us with its insight, humor, and clarity. He was a clinical psychologist who began his career as a teacher and spent much of his career working with troubled children. He is noted for his connection between two seeming opposites – compassion and boundaries.

His book, Between Parent and Child, updated in 2003 to take account of the latest research largely confirming his experience based intuition, is still a classic. As teachers, we are always being asked both explicitly and implicitly by our parents how they should parent their children. It can feel like an imposition to actually tell them what to do. Maybe the declarative voice is inappropriate. But it is completely appropriate to help parents understand and be able to effectively connect with their own children, particularly when they give us an opening. This is one book that can both be recommended to parents for their own education and placed on our own bookshelves in order to provide fodder for advice we give. It’s maybe the best parenting book you can get today for a little over $7.00!!

Here’s just one well-known example of Haim’s advice:

“What do we say to a guest who forgets her umbrella? Do we run after her and say “What is the matter with you? Every time you come to visit you forget something. If it’s not one thing it’s another. Why can’t you be like your sister? When she comes to visit, she knows how to behave. You’re forty-four years old! Will you never learn? I’m not a slave to pick up after you! I bet you’d forget your head if it weren’t attached to your shoulders.” That’s not what we say to a guest. We say “Here’s your umbrella, Alice,” without adding “scatterbrain.”

Parents need to learn to respond to their children as they do to guests.