One of the reasons that parenting is so difficult is because parents are caught in a paradoxical situation. What every child wants most is to be loved as he is. However, the parent [horeh] is also a teacher [morah], which comes from the word hora'ah, instruction. A teacher's job is to civilize the child, instil values, shape attitudes and correct negative behavior. We can't let our children go out into the world as pampered slobs or short-tempered bullies. We want them to be hard-working, reliable, thrifty, considerate, patient, polite and organized. We know that they need these traits in order to be happy and survive in a tough world. If her room is a mess and she has tantrums over her split ends, what will happen when she has to juggle work and kids and a husband who is less than perfect? If he slams doors when he's upset or torments his little sister, how will he behave when his wife irritates him in any one of the thousands of ways that people can irritate each other?

Inevitably, the parents' drive to improve him is often interpreted by the child as rejection. This is why many children complain bitterly about their parents, "No matter what I do, it's never good enough for them. They're never satisfied. They care about my grades, not about me." Because we see their faults so clearly, they hear a double message, i.e., "I love you - but there's always room for improvement!" This is why they feel so much happier and freer at their friends' homes, where no one is hovering over them and trying to change them.

Parents must be like orthodontists, patiently, with love, exerting just enough pressure to straighten the child, but not so much that we break his spirits. Growth happens very slowly, almost imperceptibly. Either extreme - excessive pressure or pampering and lack of discipline - communicate a lack of true caring. It's hard to get the right balance. While one child might thrive with strict limits and high expectations, another may feel unloved and stifled.

Overly-controlling parents push their child to fit a fantasy, i.e., a brilliant scholar or a tireless homemaker. To achieve this goal, they keep up constant pressure, convinced that, "If I don't wake him up, force him to study and harp on every little fault, he won't wake up, will be a slob and will eat only junk food." They constantly criticize and punish to make him shape up. During the early years, force seems to work. But the over-controlled child may turn into mindless automaton, incapable of independent thought or action, always looking to outside sources to determine what to think, wear, eat or say, always anxious that he is not living up to the ideal and isn't moving fast enough. Or, the child rebels, scorning all authority. He feels, "Since they don't love me, I will hurt them by doing the opposite. I cannot live a lie and pretend to love what I hate." Either way, the child never develops an authentic personality, but simply responds blindly to external forces, overly obedient or overly antagonistic.

Each parent must tread the fine line between respect for the child as he is and the gentle push which will help him move forward.

It's hard to be patient. But just as a toddler will not walk until some inner force tells him it is time to do so, it is impossible to speed the develop of certain traits, especially if they are against a child's inherent personality. Our goal is to arouse his own inner desire to want what is best for him, not due to external coercion. If he is forced to pray, for example, then when the parents or teachers are not present, he may simply not pray and then lie about it, because he has always prayed only to please others or avoid being punished. When prayer does not arise from an inner desire to connect to G‑d, it is empty and meaningless. If a child is forced to study when he feels stupid and unsuccessful, the parents may believe that this will eventually make him better, but will ignore the fact he is becoming more bitter.

The only method which helps instil good values in children is the Victory Method. This means showing enthusiasm for the small victories which the child is already manifesting in the areas we want to see improvement. Then he is more likely to do more of what we want, because he sees that he can be successful. If we constantly complain that he is eating too much, he will eat more, because criticism makes people feel unloved. And they often cope with that pain by eating even more. But if we praise him for his "victories," like eating only two cookies instead of ten, he is more likely to be proud of having self-control.

The key to growth – including our own - is to be happy with the smallest victories. Like the orthodontist, we know we cannot speed things up or change the whole structure. Anger will only create resentment, rebellion and resentment. Each parent must tread the fine line between respect for the child as he is and the gentle push which will help him move forward. Try to make a new or difficult task fun. A child who hates to clean can clean to music. He can be given a 3-minute egg timer and asked to do so for just 3 minutes at a time. If we feel scornful when talking to the child or our advice is met with scorn, this is a signal to back off. Remember, the child is an individual, not a lump of clay that can be molded to fit our dreams. Do not think that this is an easy task – for any parent!