“Hold On To Your Kids” — Chapter 15

This chapter is entitled, “Preserve The Ties That Empower”.  I love some of the opening sentences in this chapter:

“Children do not experience our intentions, no matter how heartfelt.  They experience what we manifest in tone and behavior.  We cannot assume that children will know what our priorities are:  we must live our priorities.”

On this blog I have talked time and time again about creating a Family Mission Statement, knowing what your values are and living them.  Your personal life, the life between you and your spouse, the relationship between you and your family members must reflect good morals, dignity and respect if you want your children to possess these qualities.  There is no disconnect in parenting.  If you say your children are the top priority, then make your time with them a priority.  Make your interactions with them a priority and more than a list of “Don’t do that, Little Johnny!” 

Take a view of what it means to raise children long-term, which is really hard when your oldest is a baby, toddler or even preschooler.  You may feel as if the normal developmental things they do will go on forever.  I assure you they won’t!

Spend some time with mothers who have children a bit OLDER than yours.  One thing I see frequently over and over in the attachment community is mothers who have two, three and early four year olds as their oldest child banding together and being together.  There is nothing wrong with that at all, but they have no examples to draw from in parenting older children and when discipline needs to contain not just the connection and re-direction a two year old needs for boundaries and when that style of discipline really needs to shift and include stronger boundaries and different tools.  In fact, I have seen some mothers with more dynamic five, six and seven year olds really be judged in the attachment community by mothers whose oldest children are only two or three years old.  They are not there yet, and they do not understand the six/seven year change nor the nine year change.  They just can’t!  So, do have some friends with older children so you can see what is coming, what connection and boundaries for that age look like and how things look when there are no boundaries. 

The authors remark  that “Trying to parent, to “teach lessons” when we are upset or full of rage risks making the child anxious about the relationship.  We can hardly expect a child to hold on to a connection that, in his eyes, we do not value.”  A child cannot separate himself from your criticism, so do make sure that as often as possible (and yes, we are all HUMAN and STRIVING, so please forgive yourself here) you are approaching the child in a calm manner to help the child, from a place of love.

The authors mention on page 200 that most parents are not perfect and that we may go into reactions that are uncontrolled emotions – but how after this happens we must re-group and re-collect our children.  They also talk about the importance of attachment and how many children need to have a sense that they truly matter.

Structure matters.  “We have two jobs here:  establishing structure that cultivate connection, and restrictions that enfeeble the competition.”  They go to say, “The rules and restrictions should apply to television, computer, telephone, Internet, electronic games, and extracurricular activities. The most obvious restrictions that need to be put in place are those that govern peer interaction, especially the free-style interaction that is not orchestrated by the adults in charge. Unless parents put some restrictions in place, the demand for play dates, get-togethers, sleepovers, and instant messaging soon gets out of hand.”

Many more interesting ideas regarding setting up connection with parents that can replace peer attachment, but I will stop there.  I am interested to hear what you all thought of this chapter!

Many blessings,


11 thoughts on ““Hold On To Your Kids” — Chapter 15

    • Oh Pamela! I hear you! Sometimes, as painful as it is, you may outgrow the group of friends you started out with as your child gets older…
      Many blessings,

  1. This is a great post! I think it is so easy to be a young AP parent and look at those of us with older kids and think “I will never do that!” I often chuckle and say “oh just wait!” Of course I had the same ideas when my older three were tiny.

    I have found it so enriching to be a forward thinking parent, to look to my peers with older children and watch how they parent and then think about how I would act in that situation. It is such an important skill to gain when they are young, before you even get to them being older.

  2. I would add temperament differences here. Our choleric Hare was, according to other people, behaving normally when he was actually detached and melting down; whereas we were told we had ‘made’ our melancholic Owl clingy by being warm and responsive! (Now both generally calm and self-assured.)

  3. “Children do not experience our intentions, no matter how heartfelt. They experience what we manifest in tone and behavior. We cannot assume that children will know what our priorities are: we must live our priorities.”

    This is something I have been thinking about for a while.

    I grew up in an anthroposophical home. My parents were both committed to giving me and my brother a Waldorf education, and both were committed to bringing Waldorf education to the community – available to as many children as possible.

    I think I did understand what their priorities were. It was giving me a Waldorf education and making the Waldorf school I attended into a successful school.

    Along the way I got lost. I was miserable at school (cried almost every day for about 3 years) and I desperately needed a warmer home environment. Unfortunately neither of my parents was available to make that happen, due to the all consuming nature of being on a Waldorf school staff.

    I guess this is very personal for me.

    I do feel like my parents chose to live their values. And I am trying to understand how you can value a philosophy over a child. How do families choose their values and live them out. I know my parents loved me. I know they also do not understand how I could not feel loved. And are inclined to ignore why I didn’t feel loved and just tell me that of course they do and leave it at that.

    I am going to be thinking over our family value statement. I have been thinking for almost 3 years now, and still have not been able to get a clear concept of just what our values are and how to live them.

    • Inclusivemothering,
      It is so hard to heal from our childhood sometimes, isn’t it? Let that woundedness go and replace it with joy and love and warmth. It sounds to me that that is what your priorities are for your children and maybe you could build a family value statement around that. Incidentally, I think those things are what elevates life whether one is a Waldorf home or not. That is why on this blog I advocate a common sense approach of attachment, boundaries, (attachment parenting and gentle discipline) combined with a Waldorf approach to development and warmth and love and joy! This is probably also why I prefer homeschooling over any school, and to be fair juggling a school life where both parents are so involved and all the things that go with school and family must have been difficult all the way around. You can create something different and move on in forgiveness and love.
      Many blessings

  4. Sorry I was not clear in my previous comment. I have not read the book.

    And while I know my parents genuinely loved me and had very positive intentions towards me, the message got lost in their absorption in the school and anthroposophy.

  5. Yup, it can be hard getting over childhood hurts. Although I think I am getting there. Figuring out just what I feel and unraveling just what happened has been quite intense. And triggered by becoming a mother myself.

    One of the reasons I like your blog is that it combines attachment parenting with Waldorf.

    I feel like my parents were instrumental in me becoming an independent thinking, spiritually authentic person. They just did not have the tools or passion to bring to our home life what they were giving to the school.

    I’m gonna try find some quiet time to get together a family mission statement. I think this will be hugely important for all of us.

  6. Pingback: Family Mission Statement – in progress « Inclusivemothering's Blog

  7. It is so true regarding judgement of parents of young children around older children!! And I also remember being in that place of judgement too when my son was littler!! It is a good awareness to shine light upon! Thank you.

  8. I’ve found this book so interesting and this in particular has struck a chord with me this week. The idea of the “long view of parenting”. I think that is so important and something I always try to keep in mind. I have to say where I’m having a hard time is with the judgement from the outside world…namely my parents and siblings…..who have no interest in understanding why we do things differently than they did and instead spend a lot of time criticizing us and demaning to know when we’re going to send our children out into the world where they need to be in their mind (my children are 7, 4 and 2 and we have a wide circle of friends and a great Waldorf playgroup but we enjoy being firmly entrenched in the home and our daily rhythm as well). Our children our happy, confident, healthy, beautiful little people but my family sees that as being despite what we’re doing instead of because of what we’re doing. My parents are always telling the kids (and us) they should go to school, learn to use the computer, and think their bedtimes are too early, we don’t let them have enough sweet treats or exciting outings and are very offended that we won’t let our 4 year old come for a sleepover by himself. A few weeks ago when our seven year old spent the night she came home aksing why her grandparents think we’re weird and do everything wrong and that they said she needs to go to school because she’s not learning enough. My mother spent the whole weekend having her do colouring sheet after colouring sheet and worksheet after worksheet. They let her stay up 3 hours past her bedtime which we have said time and time again throws her completely off and she often gets sick after a visit with them.
    This has followed years of lectures and criticism about everything from breastfeeding, co-sleeping, gentle discipline and us choosing to waste our money on organic, unprocessed food and homeschooling and particularly the delayed academics of Waldorf of course. When my mother brought her home she cornered me and told me that she thinks I’m doing a horrible job, blamed everything on “this Waldorf thing”, told me my children will grow up to resent me and she is incredibly hurt that I don’t listen to her.
    Sorry this is so long it just seems like “holding on to my kids” and parenting in a way that feels right to me is going really against what the rest of the world is doing and in my corner of the world is causing a lot of strife.
    I feel confident in what I’m doing and am so lucky to have such amazing support from other people but I’m wondering how you would suggest handling the pressure from the world and in my case family to “let go” of my children prematurely? (of course I’ve tried to explain that our boundaries will shift and expand and that our children will have ample oppportunity to move out into the world as they grow up but they can’t seem to hear that sadly).

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