I love aphorisms, epigrams, koans, paradoxes, and any kind of teaching story. I first read this teaching story in Wendy Mogel’s terrific book, The Blessing of a Skinned Knee. (She also wrote The Blessing of a B Minus.)
Elizabeth recently heard her speak at Jack’s school.
In her book, Mogel quotes Rabbi Menahem Mendel who said, “If you truly wish your child to study Torah, study it yourself in their presence. They will follow your example. Otherwise they will not themselves study Torah, but will simply instruct their children to do so.”
In my book Better Than Before, I describe the twenty-one strategies we can use to make or break our habits, and one of the most powerful is the Strategy of Other People. We readily pick up habits from others — for good and for ill.
I like that story because the fact is, example is more persuasive than admonition. If I want my kids to read more, I should read more. If I want my kids to go to sleep on time, I should go to sleep on time. If I want my family to eat more healthfully, I should eat more healthfully.
A good example is more compelling than good advice.