HI am currently reading this book; it is a Christian book that comes from a Biblical perspective, but I feel even if you are NOT Christian you would find it fascinating!
The premise of this book so resonates with me. Walker Moore, the author, takes a close look at the difficulties our children are having today with the transition between childhood and adulthood and this odd notion of adolescence. Adolescence was a term created in the early 1940s that did not exist before then. He talks about how the transition of society from an agrarian focus to an industrial one has had dire implications for our children.
He writes, “In the post-World War II era, as our culture completed its move from the farm to the suburbs,it managed to take away even more of our children’s responsibilities. The new suburbanites enjoyed the ease and comfort of their modern lifestyle. Many of them were thankful that their kids didn’t have to work as hard as they had during their own grown-up years. What the parents failed to realize was that this hard work had actually helped them in their progress toward capable, responsible adulthood. The fifteen-year-old, once thought of as a man with adult skills who could drive and run a farm, was now stuck in high school and told he was “just a kid”.
Moore talks about the four essential experiences every child should have in order to transfer to being a successful, responsible adult:
1. A Rite of Passage – Jewish custom demonstrates this rather clearly in the tradition of Bar Mitzvah, Hispanic culture demonstrates this clearly in the fifteen-year-old girl’s quinceanera. Moore notes that we as a society have “begun to increase the age of expected adult responsibility while the age of physical maturity continues to drop.” (By this, he means the physiological signs of puberty are occurring earlier than they have in the past but we entrust our teenagers with less and less true responsibility and less and less let them experience the consequences of their own decisions).
How will your family develop a rite of passage for your thirteen to fifteen-year old child? Some families have developed their own rite of passage, some families have their thirteen to fifteen year old participate in a community service project. Moore talks about for Christian families to consider sending their thirteen to fifteen year old on a mission trip to another country. Think about the importance of rites of passages for your family and share your ideas in the comment section!
2. Significant Tasks – Moore writes on page 75, “Parents, let me ask you a question: What does your child do that demonstrates her worth and add value to your family? If she were away today and unable to perform this assignment, how much would your family suffer? If you struggle to come up with an answer, your child is probably missing significant tasks.”
Children in agricultural societies are important to the family. If they don’t go out and gather firewood, then the family cannot cook their food. In our modern, suburban civilization, children are seen as a financial liability and a luxury to have and raise by many people.
This really resonates with me as I have been thinking more and more about the significant tasks my children should be doing each and every day. Not all of us live on farms, so what is truly significant in your house and home? What tasks are significant that just you couldn’t go without? Moore talks about having his nine-year-old learn how to pay the electric bill with the checkbook and how this was significant because if the bill was not paid, the electricity would be turned off!
To me, cooking is a skill that could be significant for girls and for boys. Unless you are a raw foodist, unless one cooks, one does not eat. I believe Don and Jeanne Elium addresses cooking for boys and its importance in their book, “Raising A Son.” Well-worth checking into!
Taking care of the grounds also resonates with me. Pet care as well. These are areas where the child starts by imitating you when they are young and slowly moves into responsibility as they mature past 7.
Laundry is another area. Walker Moore says he feels an eight-year-old (Waldorf folks might be this age a bit higher, like after the nine-year change) should be capable of sorting, washing, folding and putting away their own laundry. You may be to be present to keep it going along, but as homeschoolers I feel we have a unique opportunity to devote some extra time to these important life tasks. I also like laundry because of its built-in natural consequences – if you don’t do your laundry, you have no clothes to wear!
3. Logical Consequences– He talks about how parents in our society today too often jump in to “save” their children from the natural consequences of their own-decision making.
There are many parents who feel the foundation of childhood is laid in the Early Years and then you have to trust your child and let go. I agree with this in a certain respect, although I do think the seven and eight and nine year olds still need guidance and protection. In many Waldorf circles, the world starts opening up a bit more after the nine-year change, in the fourth grade when most children are 10.
I would love to hear from all of you – do you let your under 10 children go to sleepovers at friends’ houses, what things do they get to do when they are 7 or 8 that is different than before, or do you have them wait to do things until they hit 9? Jump in on the comment section!
4. Grace Deposits – Walker Moore’s way of talking about filling up your child’s love tank, their emotional bank account. In Waldorf we don’t use so many words to do this with children under 7 , but we use our warmth, our joy, our happiness, the tone in which we speak to our children, the way we run as calm and steady a household as possible to show that our children are loved.
As your children grow and their temperament becomes more pronounced, we have the opportunity to figure out what really makes our children tick, even more than in the first seven years where we think we know as attached parents but honestly we don’t! There is a big shift that comes at 7 and 8 as children move into themselves more…
The language we use with our children is SO IMPORTANT. Frame things positively! If you keep framing things about your child negatively, especially in front of the child, that is what the child is going to think of themselves. Employ other adults outside of your family – friends, other trusted adults – to help you find the wonderful things about your child and build your child up as your child grows! Steiner talked about the importance of building a supportive, trusted and wonderful community for the child of ages 7-14. Your child is a wonderful, spiritual being who joined your family and needs you to uplift them, guide them, help them!
This was an interesting book that stimulated much thought in me today,