“And Abraham said to G-d: If only Yishmael would live before you.” (Genesis 17:18)
Abraham knew Yishmael’s limitations and yet believed in his potential to become his heir. When he was informed that he was going to have a “miracle” child with Sara, he asked God to do something much more humble: To help him bring out Yishmael’s best. Parents, perhaps better than anyone else see their child’s faults. In the quest for a “perfect” child, there may be a tendency to use this knowledge to constantly correct and try and “fix” him to meet certain perceived standards. A more positive and empowering approach is to use this knowledge sparingly and deliberately to help him work through specific situations where his weaknesses are exposed. Instead, the lion’s share (at least 80%) of our parenting focus should be on our child’s many gifts and talents by pointing them out, emphasizing them and providing opportunities to express them in service of God and humanity.