Monday, January 11, 2010

Book

A few months ago a friend blogged about a book she had read. Seeing how it seemed to have an impact on her and respecting her as a seriously amazing mom, I decided to pick it up. She was right. It was one of those books that I would try to relay to Ryan after every chapter I read. (And he even listened, which is sort of, um, rare.) It's called "Hold on to Your Kids; why parents need to matter more than peers," and is written by Gordon Neufeld. It's obviously a little older than the stage my kids are at, but I'm glad I read it before I get to that point where your kids are annoyed when you're around and just want to be with their friends, because it also seems like something you should just make your lifestyle. Practice makes perfect, and it would be nice to get it figured out before you really need it, you know? Besides the fact that it's not like it happens overnight, and I was amazed to see how early on the seeds of peer orientation are sewn.

Part of the basic idea is that the natural order is for things to be passed on from older generations to the younger ones - knowledge, ideas, values, how to act, talk, dress, etc. It's that way in all of nature - animals and humans. Or it used to be. In the last few generations there has been a huge shift in that kids now look more to their peers for this information rather than adults. So much so, that I didn't even realize it wasn't normal when I was first reading this book! But as the author says, anyone reading the book probably grew up that way and so we don't even realize it's a problem. So now we have generations of immature children - being raised by other immature children. Even language and vocabulary has dropped as a result because they're getting their language (or lack thereof) from each other. His idea is that this has resulted in a whole lot of the issues that we see in society now - children who want nothing to do with adults, can't socialize with adults, children who are more aggressive, more calloused, don't feel emotion, don't engage in meaningful relationships, have their curiosity stamped out because it's not "cool," are more sexually promiscuous with less feeling about it, families falling apart, parents who have lost the power to parent their children, and kids who will follow their skewed instincts to stay close to their peers at all costs. His theory is that we all have a basic instinct or need for attachment, and when that is not met or strong enough with parents, kids will shift that need to peers to fill it, with the costly loss of parental attachment, which causes parents to lose the power to parent their children because the children are no longer looking to them for cues about anything.

I'd love to tell you all the great ideas from the whole book, but I wouldn't do it justice and really you should just read it. It really has made me think a lot about my own life, my own parenting, and did make me notice a lot of the things that did go right. Like my mom always having lots of big family dinners. We always had extended family around and always intermingled with the generations, playing games and talking. I also think of how much the church is inspired in this way - from it's strong emphasis on families and family time, to always ensuring that there were caring adults who played a big part in your life (leaders and Sunday school teachers and such) and helped your own parents get to know people you were associating with better, along with their families. It also made me resolve to be a better friend to other kids - to get to know my friend's kids better or other kids at church who could benefit from another caring adult in their life. I'll admit - this is hard for me. I've never been a real kid person, so having my own children I've had to be totally focused inward just to take care of my own little family, especially once the twins came along. I have a hard enough time paying attention to my own kids, let alone someone else's, but I always love it when friends have a genuine interest in my kids. And that's part of his suggestions is to have a big network of caring adults, family members, and friends to be a part of your children's lives. To help them attach to other positive adults rather than to a bunch of peers you know nothing about and that they want to leave your company to spend every waking minute with. He says, "The greater the number of caring adults in a child's life, the more immune he or she will be to peer orientation."

It did, however, make me more anxious about sending my kids to school here, especially given their personalities, and made me realize where you live and what kind of neighborhood and school area you're in could possibly have a huge impact on how your kids grow up - for better or worse. I was also interested to see how much applied to teachers and teaching and how much attachment plays a part in learning.

I even thought some of the advice was applicable to my marriage - like remembering the relationship is more important than the behavior. That's a good one. And that filling someone's need for attention when they're begging for it really doesn't fill the need; it's only when it's spontaneously given that it really satisfies. (Um, ok, that one wasn't actually for me. HINT.)

Anyway, the author is not saying friends are bad, just that there should be adults around, and ideally you would be involved with your children and their friends and their families. He even goes into better ways to discipline to help preserve your relationship with your kids rather than hurt it. That's going to take some creativity on my part and I'll have to see what works for us.

Even with how much I liked the book though, I'll have to say it did take me about 3 or 4 months to read it. I just have trouble when they're not gripping page-turners! Alright, enough already, but I highly recommend it!

13 comments:

SuburbiaMom said...

Thanks for sharing! I am definitely agreeing to many of the points the book has; I'm gonna read it for sure!

Lima Bean said...

Yes, thank you for sharing. I love books like this--I always pick up something that can make me a better parent when I read them. I'm going to put it on hold at my library right now.

The Freemans said...

I am totally going to read it....Sometimes being a mom right now totally scares me...I think any help is good...thanks for the info!

AnnaMarie Ferrell said...

Thanks for the recommendation! I'm putting it on my request list from the library, too.

The Spendloves said...

I've talked with Shawn about some of these points already. And we've talked about it enough that I know I'll read it... like you said. I'll let you know what I think when I finish! Sounds like i'll need to take notes.

Julie M. said...

Sounds like a great book! I'm going to have to find it. So, I have some random questions about your formal dress (from your "prom"!), can you email me? :) Thanks!
j.n.matthews at gmail.com

Melanie said...

Well I really needed to hear that Jen! Lately I have been feeling like I need to find more social outlets for Harrison. He is just so social and loves interacting with me but I sometimes feel like I want him to make himself busy. Not having siblings or friends next door :( makes him want to hang with me all the time. It was nice to be reminded that we have a good attachment and that when he is older hopefully all these years of closeness will see him through the teen years. I still want to seek out more outlets for H but thanks for the positive spin on being a full time parent!

Anonymous said...

I am also convinced that a wide variety of experiences helps build self-esteem. And have always felt the importance of stressing family loyalty, in addition to having a good relationship with loving relatives. Hopefully, my children all know that ANY of their aunts and uncles would do anything for them or go anywhere for them (to fetch them or help them out), if they possibly could.

xoxoGrammy

Shannon said...

catching up on your blog. I rarely have a moment to myself anymore. I am stunned the rollerblading thong! great job on the pianny and Ryan is a fabulous whipcracker. The rash/skin issue on the baby is exactly what Garret woke up to once it went away on it's own. And the book I am going to read. thanks so much for posting that. all your posts love them.

duck said...

looks good, I'll have to check it out

Julie said...

Cool! I just reserved it at the library! Thanks.

Julie

Corinne said...

Friend, I am so glad you got something out of it. It's one that I'll be reading again (once I get it back from my husband :)

lindsy said...

Thanks Jen, I just reserved it at the library. Sounds great!