THE BLOG
06/30/2014 02:43 pm ET | Updated Aug 30, 2014

Never Trust a Whisperer

Oliver Rossi via Getty Images

Never trust anyone who claims they're a "whisperer." A child whisperer, a dog whisperer or a horse whisperer. It implies that there is one universal way to raise kids and train your dog. If they really knew *THE* way to "raise cooperative and respectful children," then why would they whisper it? Shouldn't they yell it from the rooftops?

This idea of a universal experience or a single truth is dangerous. It's dangerous to parents and to kids. I remember going away to college and feeling like my first year away from home in Israel HAD to be amazing and life-changing. It just had to. Everyone loved their year in Israel. Everyone. It created this enormous pressure to make sure every experience was dripping with awesomeness. It made it seem inauthentic at times. There were days that I just wanted to go home. There were days that I slept through and were totally not awesome. And there were days that really were kick-a** good. So, the experience of that year and then of college afterwards was highly variable. Some days were good and would have made a great photo-op and some days sucked so bad that the idea of getting dressed and walking to class was too much to bear. Most of the days were somewhere in the middle.

I think the kindest thing we can do for our kids is to tell them that the experience they're about to embark on -- whether it be summer camp, school, college, a new relationship -- may be great, may be mediocre or may suck hard. And all of those experiences will be right for them, at that time. It will teach them what they like and what absolutely doesn't work for them. Honor their experience. Even if you had the best years of your life in summer camp, your kid may hate it. Honor that. You may find religion moving and life-affirming and your child doesn't. Honor that. College may have been the greatest years of your life but you child may have no interest in going. As hard as that is to honor, do it.

When I see books by whisperers, I get highly suspicious. Maybe they whisper truths. Maybe they have great ideas that would work for some people in certain circumstances. But they need to keep whispering, because not everyone wants to hear them.

If I wrote a childrearing book (with a big fat disclaimer that I have no idea what I'm doing on a good day) it would be called "The Child Screamer." I would go on a book tour and just yell at kids and parents. That seems like a universally great idea.