“Hold On To Your Kids”–Chapter Seven

We are back with more of our book study of “Hold On To Your Kids:  Why Parents Need To Matter More Than Peers” by Neufeld and Mate.  I encourage you all to read this book; it will underscore the importance of your work as a parent and that what you do every day really does matter!

We are up to Chapter Seven in this book, entitled “The Flatlining of Culture”.  The authors talk about how teen “tribe”s have no connection these days with adults at all. They remark that “Although we have lulled ourselves into believing that this tribalization of youth is an innocuous process, it is a historically new phenomenon with a disruptive influence on social life.  It underlies the frustration many parents feel at their inability to pass on their traditions to their children.”

I have a few things to add here.  I believe this peer orientation is beginning earlier and earlier, but parents are buying into this process as fact when it does not have to be so.  “Sleep-overs”, something women my age remember happening from their own childhoods in the teen years (ie, junior high and up), are now happening for children aged 7 and up.  There are many more instances of things that used to occur in the teenaged years just some decades ago that are now happening at the earliest levels of the grades.  This should be worrisome and we should be fighting to take the innocence of childhood and being with family back! 

The other interesting thing with this quote is the assumption that parents feel they have traditions to pass on.  I meet many families who do NOT have traditions from their own childhood to pass on.  Many of the parents I meet today are trying to re-create their families’ cultures from scratch with little idea how to start.  We must get very clear with ourselves and with our spouses, partners and other family members what traditions we hold dear, what values we hold dear and work to show this to our children.

When a child becomes peer-oriented, the transmission lines of civilization are downed.  The new models to emulate are other children or peer groups or the latest pop icons….Peer-oriented children are not devoid of culture, but the culture they are enrolled in is generated by peer orientation.”

Another great quote and sobering fact from this chapter:  “Many of our children are growing up bereft of the universal culture that produced the timeless creations of humankind:  The Bhagavad Gita; the writings of Rumi and Dante, Shakespeare and Cervantes and Faulkner, or of the best and most innovative of living authors; the music of Beethoven and Mahler: or even the great translations of the Bible.  They know only what is current and popular, appreciate only what they can share with their peers.”

What did you all think of this short but intriguing chapter?

Carrie

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9 thoughts on ““Hold On To Your Kids”–Chapter Seven

  1. I agree completely. Interesting that you mentioned the sleep-over phenomenon. I know of many children who began sleep-overs at two or three years of age, and locally, we would be considered somewhat unusual because our children sleep over as they feel comfortable doing so. Our eldest is nearly nine and has had three sleep-overs in total.

  2. I admit I got no idea at what age sleepovers happen in Malta if they do. I used to sleep over but it was either at my grandma or at two of my cousins between the ages of 10 and 16. However, considering myself, I wouldn’t let my children sleep over before they are 10-12 years old and only if I really know the parents well. Re the classics children don’t know, I blame that not just on us parents who don’t try to indoctrinate them into such readings but also schools- if they are mentioned at school they put them in such a boring way that there is no wish to get to know more about them which is very shameful

  3. I wonder about the sleepover thing. I slept over and my dear girlfriend’s houses from a very young age. These were families that my parents new very well from church and as friends, and they became kind of second families to me. My daughter and her closest friend have slept over a few times (age 5). Can you elaborate on the concerns I may want to consider with sleepovers between very close family friends who one completely trusts? It may factor in that we share similar parenting styles, waldorf-inspired lifestyles and homeschooling approaches.

    • Rachel,
      I was just trying to think of examples of things reserved for older children that are now seeping down into the younger years…If this is traditional within your family, no reason to worry. Perhaps it was a poor example!
      Many blessings,
      Carrie :)

  4. Oh, Carrie, I was not offended or anything! I actually have a good friend who also has concerns about sleepovers, but she hasn’t been able to articulate just what it is that feels wrong. I personally feel good about them, but I’m sensitive to the thoughts of others when they are people I respect. But, overall, I really share in the desire to protect our little ones from growing up too soon. Thanks for this post!

    • Many blessings, Rachel! I think in close family/community it can work..perhaps the disconnect with some parents is that small children are still really under the Madonna Cloak of their mothers, and often are not comfortable away from their parents (or their parents are not comfortable with that due to that etheric connection)…I think for some families, who have a wider scope and feeling of community, this may be just part of the fabric of their circle. :)
      Many blessings,
      Carrie

  5. I think there is a difference between the kind of “sleepover” where the young child stays with grandparents, aunt and uncles or very close family friends and the kind of “sleepover” that Carrie was using as an example.

    Teenage sleepovers usually involved anything but sleep. The idea was to be able to ignore one’s usual bedtime and try to stay up all night. The rest was a party – refreshments, games, gossip, make up, hair and nails (for girls), teen magazines and maybe a movie on TV (in the age before videos were common).

    What I think Carrie was talking about was this kind of sleep party brought down to the younger children. For the kind of family that keeps a soft and warm bedtime ritual, this kind of hyperactive “bedtime” behavior could be emotionally disruptive, even long after the event.

    Throughout history, customs, dress and interests of adults have been passed down to children. For example, in agrarian cultures, children would play with homemade farm animal toys and tools. In industrial culture, we ended up with “Erector Sets”, Legos and now other complicated electronic construction “toys”. Most of what was given to children in the past was fairly unconscious and culturally dictated. If parents considered their child’s development at all (which is really a very recent phenomenon) they had the usual competitive feeling of younger is better. But in this age, which I consider a cultural turning point of consciousness, parents are expected to give a lot of attention to their child’s development and are encouraged in this competitive mode. It requires a level of consciousness that only a small percentage of parents possess to ask oneself, “Is this really the best thing for my child? What does my child actually need, rather than what society expects?”

    Heartfelt applause and hugs to those of you who stand on the threshold of this developing consciousness and are ready to stem the tide of premature experiences.

  6. Regarding family traditions – we need to remember where we are. We are in the “New World” which could be North America, South America, Asia, Africa or Oceania, anywhere but Europe. The Age of Exploration “found” these “New Worlds” and then came colonization.

    When people today speak of tradition, they mostly refer back to European or native traditions from other lands that were contemporary for their grandparents or even great-grandparents. Many families have “memories” of these traditions and cultures and try to keep them alive in some way.

    But we live in this “melting pot” where people have been marrying outside their cultures and religions of origin for several generations. Often, they try to incorporate aspects of culture from two or more different family histories. This along would bring much change and even disassociation with time. Still, up to the middle of last century, much was handed down mostly intact, with oral history and family heirlooms. But then came the double whammy of electronic media, starting with television and an economic squeeze that turned the freedom of women to work outside the home into the necessity of it. We have now perhaps three or four generations of children being raised to a great extent outside the home and in an extremely homogenized environment. Once the child is in a “public school” setting, even as young as three in areas with Head Start programs, they no longer receive input of a “religious” nature or celebrate holidays as “holy days”. Television has helped greatly to make Christmas (for example) a commercial event with a generic, non-religious Santa icon. Even families who still have strong religious beliefs have felt enormous pressure to “fit in” with this “American” cultural tradition. It is natural for a parent not to want their child to be “different” and therefore ostracized by their school mates and neighborhood friends. All of this combined with tired working parents who may not have the time and energy to make every day of the Advent and Christmas season a focused and charming event has led to the way things have become. Parents work even harder, often with overtime to be able to afford the latest toy, game or electronic device that television has convinced their child is the only thing worth living for. If they succeed, Christmas morning is a blowout of gimmes followed by practically passing out from exhaustion. Twelve days of Christmas?! No way! We barely survived the one!

    Most of us here have lived through this experience already as children and perhaps it is this fact which makes us as adults seek a different way. We remember the lingering sense of emptiness and disappointment, even when we “got” everything we asked for. We remember the fighting among our parents and relatives caused by stress. We remember coming back to school and either lording over other children who didn’t “get” as much as ourselves or else being the one made to feel inferior by others. We remember Rudolf the Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman on TV, but have few or no memories of hearthside warmth in our mother or father’s arms.

    The iron circle of parochial tradition has been broken, but we have the opportunity to create a new golden circle of spiritual consciousness if we choose to do so. This perhaps will be the redemption and blessing of the American past.

    • That is beautiful, Christine and I would like to add that the book “The Spiritual Tasks of the Homemaker” is a welcome addition to pondering this subject more..
      Many blessings,
      Carrie

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