I just finished reading a very insightful book called The Jewish Phenomenon: Seven keys to the enduring wealth of a people by Steven Silbiger and he discussed seven principles inherent in Jewish culture tradition as a people, that form the bedrock of Jewish financial success.

The Jewish Phenomenon

Now, copying this right from the back cover of the book

  • Jews make up only 2 percent of the total U.S. population yet 45 percent of the top 40 of the Forbes richest Americans are Jewish.
  • One-third of American multimillionaires are Jewish.
  • The percentage of Jewish households with income greater than $50,000 is double that of non-Jews.
  • 20 percent of professors at leading universities are Jewish.
  • 40 percent of partners in the leading New York and Washington, D.C., law firms are Jewish.
  • 25 percent of all American Nobel Prize winners are Jewish.

It goes without saying that one can learn a lot from the discussed principles in Jewish culture that can be learnt and applied to Business and lifestyle to achieve the same results clearly evident among them.

The issue I want to point at today is what I have discovered by reading this book, and Jews refrain from authoritarian styles of discipline on their kids. And though many may frown at this and prefer raising their kids with strict measures, spontaneously applying the ‘smacking’ method for every ill or contrary behavior, I’m wondering if this pattern goes on to influence the way the kids behave in future in response to real life situations.

I wrote out my thoughts about this in a previous post some days ago about how the particular pattern of raising kids prevalent in my country or very well among blacks (I know this through movies and popular culture) may develop adults who are always willing to conform to statusquo, having low risk appetite and not having enough daredevilry to question the way things are and think outside the box . . . attributes that are the determinant of any major success story in this age.

There are two points of consideration, and the point of call here is that a parent’s choice of either one of these may result in the behavior of their child in a certain way in his adult age:

  1. Authoritarian pattern: This is a no nonsense stance (though loving), but always ready to instill discipline, obedience and conformity to standards (culture, religion, ethnicity, home), enforced by punishments for lack of compliance even up to physical smacks and ‘flogging’ as was common in my upbringing.
    My reservation is that children raised in this manner are more likely to lack the strength to pursue their goals  or confront situations where their opinion is in question.
  2. ‘Permissive’ but protective: It may appear that these parents spoil their children. An in-depth study of first and second-generation Jewish-American mothers  by Sociologist Zena Smith Blau confirms seven general ‘rules’ of parenting that form a pattern that has been passed on to subsequent generations.
  • Refrain from corporal punishment; control in punitive ways.
  • Allow complete freedom of expression in the home
  • Provide children the best of everything, whenever possible
  • Nurture the strong ego and self-esteem of the child.
  • Reduce the impact of peer pressure by maintaining close family relationships and delaying independence from home
  • Set high standards for educational and professional advancement
  • As a community, reinforce those high standards.
    The result of this pattern is children raised with a strong ego (my culture, ‘Yoruba’, will have a huge problem with this) and find the strength to cope with an environment in which their self-esteem, self-reliance and will come into question. Consequently, Jewish children have a strong belief in their own ability to achieve success in the classroom and eventually in their careers.

A decision to make

Thus, if you are (or were to be) a parent, would you choose the authoritative pattern to raise up a very ‘disciplined’ child knowing that the child may grow up to be deficient in some entrepreneurial traits, or would you rather go with the permissive pattern, allowing complete freedom of expression at home and outside, occasional rashness but knowing that they develop the curiosity and expression to fare well in school, and that they also develop the needed ‘chutzpah’ to break into significant achievement in society become wildly successful in their adult years?

Share your thoughts on this issue below and let us know what your choice would be!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.