Rav Avigdor Miller on Saying “Please” To Your Child

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Q:
The Rav mentioned earlier that a parent should use the word “please” when speaking to a child. But doesn’t saying the word “please” imply that the fulfillment of the request by the child is really only going to be a favor on the part of the child?


A:
No. When a parent says “please” to a child, but he says it firmly, and the parent insists that the child do it, then the child gets the idea that he must do it, and he learns from his parents to say “please.” It depends on the tone of the “please.”

Now, if you say “please” and the child ignores you, then you are a failure. You are remiss in your duty as a parent. Either don’t ask the child to do that thing, or if you do ask, it must be carried out. Your request must be carried out. And therefore, before you ask, you have to judge whether it’s feasible.

A certain great man once told me, “Do you know why I have a reputation of being a man of power?” And he was a man who wielded a lot of power. He told me, “Because I never tried anything that I couldn’t carry out.” He only attempted things that he knew he could carry out. So he had a reputation that he was successful in everything. He always won! He always succeeded! Because he never tried anything that he would lose.

And therefore, if you want to be a successful parent, insist on things that you know you can win. Watch out! Watch your step and don’t make a request regarding things that you won’t win, things that won’t be fulfilled. Because then you’re going to become a loser in the eyes of your child.
TAPE # 498 (March 1984)