Well, here we are with a new book study! Always exciting!
Chapter One of this book is entitled, “Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers”. The authors lay the groundwork for this chapter in the opening scenario and write, “Children are not quite the same as we remember being. They are less likely to take their cues from adults, less afraid of getting into trouble. They also seem less innocent and naive – lacking, it seems, the wide-eyed wonder that leads a child to have excitement for the world, for exploring the wonders of nature or of human creativity. Many children seem inappropriately sophisticated, even jaded in some ways, pseudo-mature before their time. They appear to be easily bored when away from each other or when not engaged with technology.”
And what I love about this book is that it addresses not just the way children are, but they way they can be if we change our parenting assumptions and ways, and how we really can “hold on to our kids.” We will get into this in further chapters. I really and truly believe that attachment parenting and Waldorf Education hold good opportunities for helping children be at the right developmental phase for their age (this seems to be something as an American society that we are losing – what happens at what age, what is appropriate to expect for each age, how do we work with children in a holistic way in order to have them grow up and be health adults?)
The authors go on to discuss how parenting today does not seem natural for many parents and how this is so ironic considering “That we have more access to courses and books on childrearing than any previous generation of parents.”
Drs. Neufeld and Mate then go on to lay the groundwork for the importance of attachment and connection in guiding a child. “For a child to be open to being parenting by an adult, he must be actively attaching to that adult, be wanting contact and closeness with him.” They discuss the movement from physical intimacy to emotional intimacy to psychological intimacy and how our changed culture makes this more difficult than ever. “Children are increasingly forming attachments with that compete with their parents, with the result that proper context for parenting is less and less available to us.” This is taking the form of attachment to peers over family. This orientation changed around the time of World War II (I wrote about some of the other consequences of how childhood has changed since World War II here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/06/30/rite-of-passage-parenting-four-essential-experiences-to-equip-your-kids-for-life-heading-up-to-the-nine-year-change-and-beyond/ ) The authors argue that instead of vertical transmission of culture (from older adults to the young), culture is being transmitted horizontally within the generation from peer to peer. The increased rates of teen suicide is correlated to the increase of peer orientation in our society.
The hopeful part of this is that our children really do want to be part of their own family, and that we can always work to strengthen the bonds of family and our attachment to our children.
I have seen in my work with literally thousands of different families from all cultures as a pediatric physical therapist, as a breastfeeding counselor, as an IBCLC, as someone involved in Waldorf homeschooling circles and such, that healing is possible. This, to me, is the ultimate outcome of attachment parenting, especially when combined with Waldorf Education, and what I share so much of on this blog.
But of course, it is easier to not have to work so hard in the years over the age of nine and to lay groundwork for this from the beginning the best we know how with the tools we have at the time. Parenting is a journey and there really is no perfection, only striving. As mothers, we all make many mistakes. Some are bigger than others. But it is never too late to change or to start anew and afresh. Instead of guilt taking over where you are, let your forward momentum and your plan and vision for your family carry you.
Those of you who are reading along, what did you think of this first chapter? I would love to know your opinions!