Kids today have a lot of problems, Rabbi Shmuley says. "They're unhappy, they're growing up way too fast, they're not bonding and connecting with their parents and they don't want to be at home," he says. Parents need a new means by which to raise their children—and Rabbi Shmuley outlines how to begin:
Stop asking your child what he wants to do with his life—start asking who he wants to be.
What you want to do speaks to occupation, but what you want to be speaks instead to character, Rabbi Shmuley says. What your child will eventually do is secondary to whether he will become a good person. "If your child becomes president but is a corrupt politician, then you've failed," he says. "But if he's an honest garbage collector with a good heart, you've succeeded."
Stop speaking to your child about a career—talk instead about a calling.
Focusing on career encourages narcissism, fosters insecurity and teaches the child to measure success based on her relationship to the marketplace, Rabbi Shmuley says. "Never live for other people," he says. "Rather, live for a calling. God has given you a unique gift that no one else has—find out what makes you special, and then give it to the world."
Stop focusing on grades and start focusing on intellectual curiosity.
We're raising our kids to perform in school, rather than to amass knowledge, Rabbi Shmuley says. "Stop making kids into human 'doings' who know how to perform but never develop any real desire to know."
Stop speaking to your kids about happiness—start speaking instead about purpose.
Your child's happiness shouldn't be the goal, Rabbi Shmuley says. It should be the byproduct of her purpose. Purpose liberates your talents and brings automatic joy—squandering your potential will bring about the opposite effect, he says. "If you find purpose, you're going to find happiness," Rabbi Shmuley says.
Stop emphasizing friends—start emphasizing family.
Friends can't give you the unconditional love and security that family can, Rabbi Shmuley says. According to Rabbi Shmuley, the balance of friendship to family time should be a ratio of 5:1, or five hours with your family for every hour spent with friends.
Stop speaking to your kids about attention—start focusing them on love.
Our culture teaches kids to want success because success brings attention, but that attention increases insecurity, Rabbi Shmuley says. "People love you for the things you do, not who you are," he says. Attention is a cheap forgery of love—if you really love someone, you love them without expecting anything in return.
"One, a child must be taught that his life must be directional, other-oriented and purposeful. The pursuit of happiness makes the child a burden to himself, but the pursuit of purpose liberates his talents and brings him joy. Two, a child's formative years require the unconditional love that only family can afford rather than the more tentative love that friendship offers."