Who’s pulling your strings?
Chapter 21 is called “Who’s Pulling Your Strings?” and I love it because it points out that “growing up is the process of making the shift from an external to an internal authority, or locus of control.” So, when children are little they look to PARENTS to be the authority because they only have an external locus of control. Over time, as a child develops and matures, children learn how be confident and how to have responsibility for themselves, their responses, their reactions. (You might be wondering exactly HOW to do this; this is the cruxt of understanding development and why it is so valuable in parenting! Go to the header and click “Development” and a drop down menu by age will appear. These posts will give you guidance as to what to expect at each age and how you can empower your children to become functional adults. More on raising functional adults later this week).
This shift occurs, in my opinion, when we let children make mistakes and learn from those mistakes. The author writes on page 213, “Many people trust others more than they trust themselves. They don’t know their own values, opinions, beliefs, habits or identity. They look outside themselves for approval, for a sense of worth, for happiness. Fully grown adults, they may still look to others to clean up after themselves or to rescue them from problems.” The authors has an entire section on the difference between cancer patients who decide to just “die obediently right on schedule” versus patients who take control and decide their cancer is not incurable.
The author gives exercises to help develop your own sense of self on page 215, and I can’t wait to try them out! There is an entire list of great suggestions on page 216-217 of how to move your children from external locus of control to internal locus of control. I highly suggest you look at these pages.
Chapter 22 is “Play”. Play is a universal language. We can meet children at their level during play. The author talks about how children who are entertained with a “high TV diet” wait to be entertained for their play. Children can actively entertain themselves, but screens often thwart that between humor that is mainly put-downs, violence, and commercials to encourage consumerism. Children are born with a love of work – work is play, play is work. Parents make the distinction. If we put back fun into our work, then our children will enjoy it as well. Have fun, and laugh. Laughter is the best immune booster out there! Other great tips in this chapter.
Chapter 23 is “The Winning Environment” and I love this chapter as it talks about how children need “optimal growing conditions in order to thrive.” The author has a checklist for what a winning environment would look like on page 226. This is a short chapter, but worthy to read. Chapter 24 is also short and called, “Extending Your Family” and talks about how important the extended family is – American families used to be multigenerational, extended families which is not always the case now. Kids used to be able to see how grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, all got along with each other and resolved conflict. They got to see how different people handled life events. If a parent died, other family members would step in and keep the family going (this happened to me, so this wasn’t so many generations ago). Today we have smaller households, and people and families are more isolated. Communities are often not supportive. Neighbors don’t always pop in and out. The hard work of raising children is lightened by sharing with others. I believe this is the main reason mothers are exhausted today: no community! Different families are being formed today, one extended often by friends, and I think this is so valuable. I couldn’t raise my children without my good friends at this point!
The last two chapters of the book are about the winning family, and how this family can come in many shapes and sizes and forms. What they share is connection, a sense of the family team, a balance of being close and separate, and the idea that we are all better together than apart (my wording). There is no perfect family, like a highlight reel on social media. But there can be a great family that is always becoming as we help create it and rise to challenges together. Chapter 26, the last chapter talks about “A Winning World,” because families are where societies begin. “Self-esteem begins in the family, but doesn’t stop there.” – page 240.
This is a terrific book, and I highly encourage you to read it this summer if you haven’t already. I also encourage you to get a copy of “Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles” for our next book study!