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What and how we teach our children is fundamental, but how we model what we teach is critical. Children watch, listen, and learn from our example. Wayne Dosick provides parents with the ten golden rules that teach their children respect, honesty, fairness, responsibility, compassion, gratitude, friendship, peace, maturity, and faith.
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Rabbi Wayne D. Dosick, Ph.D., is the spiritual guide of the Elijah Minyan and adjunct professor of Jewish studies at the University of San Diego. He is the author of the acclaimed Golden Rules, Dancing with God, and When Life Hurts.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Chapter OneOf Dust and Divinity
A life of goodness and decency begins with the recognition of the infinite worth of each and every human being.
The psalmist of old looked at the immense, grand universe in which he lived and was moved to awe: "0 Lord, the world is filled with the greatness of Your glory The heavens display Your splendor me cries of infants attest to Your power."
Yet, in the midst of this vast grandeur; he wondered about his place: "When I see the heavens, Your handiwork, the moon and the stars which You have formed, I ask, 'What are we that You should be mindful of us -- mere human beings that You should take notice of us?'"
The psalmist answer to his own question gives him-and us-comfort and joy: You have made us almost Divine, You have crowned us with honor and glory You have given us sway over all Your works. 0 Lord, the world is filled with the greatness of Your glory."
In every human being, there a a spark of the Divine, an image of the Eternal.
Knowing this, of course, could be cause for concert and arrogance. But, just as assuredly, it can be cause for confidence and faith.
That is, why an old legend teaches that every person should have two pockets. In one pocket should be apiece of paper on which is written, "I am but dust and ashes' " In the other pocket should be a piece of paper on which is written, "For my sake alone was the world created."
When a person is feeling too proud. he should take the paper from the first pocket and read it: I a am but dust and ashes."
When a person is feeling disheartened or lowly, she should take the paper from the second pocket and read it: "For my sake alone was the world created."
We are the joining together of two worlds. Of dust we were fashioned, but our spirit is the breath of the Divine.
When you teach your chrildren to see the value and worth of every human being, when you teach your children to honor and respect the uniqueness of each person, then you teach your children to me the Divine spark within everyone-and to touch the Divine spark within themselves.
Even though reality a radically different now you may still -- like so many other of todays parents -- carry with you the fantasy image of the "ideal" American family.
Television's Ozzie and Harriet and Leave It to Beaver portrayed the mythical "perfect" family: a working father, a stay-at-home mother, two children, and two care -- one, of course, a station wagon with wood paneling on the sides -- parked in the driveway of a suburban house, with a basketball. hoop on the garage and a dog frolicking on the front lawn.
Loving parents and children -- unfazed by life's everyday realities and undaunted by major challenges or minor conflicts -- easily solved life's little problems with nonchalance and gentle humor, in thirty minutes or less.
We know that these kinds of families are little more than the creative imagination of Hollywood script writers.
I In reality, families -- forged as much in love and experience as in biology -- come in all forms and configurations.
Yet, one thing about families, remains unchanging and constant.
In fanily, children grow and learn how to be the adults they will eventually become 16Y modeling themselves after the adults in their fives.
In family, your children will learn, first, how they we to treat people by watching how you treat people.
And their most impressionable lessons will come from how you treat them.
If you dismiss your children because they are "only children," or if you ignore them because "children should be seen but not heard," they will fed overlooked and unimportant If you regard your children only as "pride-producing machines" -- you know, "the doctor is three years old and the lawyer is two" -- they will measure their worth by what they AP, not by who they am.
To treat each and every person they meet with decency and dignity your children need to be imbued with a strong, solid sense of self For only a person with self-respect can respect others, and only a person who feels honored can honor another.
So, if you continually demonstrate your love for your children by appreciating I and validating than, if you listen to their ideas and acknowledge their feelings, they will -- at the core of their. beings -- feel safe and secure, valuable and esteemed, respected and respectable.
Then, they will be able to respect and honor others.
As the poet put it, "What the mother sings to the cradle goes all the way down to the coffin."
And, in family, by watching how their parents behave and treat others -- as men and women, as husband& and wives, as lovers, as partners, as friends, and as loving beings -- children learn about their own nature: their sexuality, their role in RED, their, capacity for communion, for intimacy, and, for love.
Every year at Christmastime, many are, drawn back to 0. Henry's story The Gift of the Magi, because it so wonderfully demonstrates not only the spirit of the season, but the human spirit of love and devotion. It shows us a partnership of selflessness and self-sacrifice. It shows us how a lovely, highly feminine woman can touch her strength and power, and how an extremely masculine man can touch his gentleness and compassion.
In the story, Jim and Della, young and deeply in love, very much want to buy each other beautiful gifts for Christmas. But they are poor, they have no money for expensive presents.
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