Jesus' Precious Little Lambs

A Charlotte Mason Christian Home School: Preschool – 5th Grade :)

Hold Onto Your Kids: Book Review Part I

on June 29, 2012

You are your child’s nurturer, comforter, guide, model, teacher, coach. You are her home base, her retreat, her fountainhead of inspiration. We know our infants world revolves around us, but do we realize that this needs to become even more true as our child grows? Why is this not the case for so many families? Why do children seem so defiant and detached from their parents now days? Deep down I think all competent young parents wonder, will this ever happen to my sweet child, is our family at risk?!?! Author Gordon Neufeld asserts that estrangement happens because of peer attachments. For parents (working and stay at home alike) who want to expose and rid anything that would stand in the way of a close attached relationship with their children and anything undermining their parental authority (I think this is all of us!), I recommend the book Hold Onto Your Kids–Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers. Check it out from the library. This is not a homeschool book, it is a parenting book discussing why and how we should be the primary life shaping force in our children’s lives (although homeschool is just about the greatest vehicle for life shaping in my opinion). Parents of young children should not be naive of how peer relationships can subtly but powerfully undermine our authority and eventually steal our children’s hearts from us (psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually). We can and should prevent this! With the proper information, we can purposefully lay a strong relational foundation while our children are still young in order to prevent the seemingly inevitable alienation of growing children that we see in society. Parent teen relationships fraught with discord is so prevalent today that we tend to take it for granted, as something that just has to be, as “normal” development– but nothing could be farther from the truth. Let your mind be transformed from the “normal” pattern of this world. If you (or someone you know) is already a parent of a defiant, friend focused teen or pre-teen, then this book will wake you up to see how and why your child has slipped out from your grasp in some/all areas due to his peer relations, as well as what to do about it. (Side note: Although this book is secular, it is valuable, and we as believers will be able to perceive that the author has insightfully–also perhaps unknowingly–exposed satans methods of gathering this generation of youth to himself, which gives us the upper hand in our child-rearing!)

We the parents are meant to be our children’s universe, like planets orbiting around the sun. Whether this sounds like a strange exaggeration, or a lot like your own wishful intentions, please read this book for a serious wake up call!!!

I have taken the time to pull out what spoke to me from the book while reading the first few chapters so that I can share it with you. My hope is that it will draw you in and stir you up into action. The book asserts that our power to parent has been slipping away largely for societal reasons. (Of course the book’s secular viewpoint fails to address the Godlessness of society as the root cause.) For the first time in history young people are turning for instruction, modeling, and guidance not to mothers, fathers, teachers, and other responsible adults but to people never intended to be placed in a parenting role–their own peers. Children now days are peer oriented. Young people are not manageable, teachable, or maturing because they no longer take cues from adults. Instead, children are brought up by immature persons who cannot possibly guide them to maturity. They are being brought up by each other.

In our society, we now thrust our children from a very early age into many situations and interactions that encourage peer orientation–like day care for tiny children, longer school days, endless activities geared towards youths, and technology like cell phones and instant messaging. The author asserts that it seems very normal now days for children to be around other children more than adults, but normal does not mean it is natural or healthy. Unwittingly, we promote the very phenomenon of peer orientation that, in the long term, erodes children’s attachment to the adults responsible for nurturing them.

Typically over a process of time, a child becomes so attached to her peers that she would rather be with them and be like them, and those peers, become that child’s working compass point. She will look to her peers for cues on how to act, what to wear, how to look, what to say, and what to do. Her peers will become the arbiters of what is good, what is happening, what is important, and even of how she defines herself. Our power to parent on the other hand, rests in how much our child specifically depends on us, in their looking to us to be the answers to their needs. After all, we can not truly take care of a child who does not count on us to be taken of. The power to parent is transferred to whomever the child depends on, whether or not that person is truly dependable, appropriate, responsible, or compassionate–whether or not, in fact, that person is even an adult.

Parenting, as surprising as it sounds, should be relatively easy (no parenting manuals or parenting classes needed!). Getting our children to take our cues, follow directions, or respect our values should not require strain and struggle or coercion, nor even the extra leverage of rewards. The key is having an attached relationship. There is a special kind of relationship developmentalists call an attachment relationship, and without having this with one’s child, parenting lacks a firm foundation. A child must be receptive if we are to nurture and guide her, and her attachment to you is what forms a context of receptiveness to your parenting. Children who lack this kind of connection are very difficult to parent and teach. Its not that you don’t love your child, its simply that you are parenting from the wrong context. In the latter half of the book, the author presents practical ways to secure or restore your child’s attachment upon you the parent (I am not yet there in the book, but it looks really helpful!).

The sad thing to me is that so many young parents reveling in the natural dependency stage of our babies and preschoolers are unaware that the seeds of peer dependence usually have already taken root by the primary grades, rather than by adolescence or even preadolescence as we tend to assume. And then soon enough in the intermediate years, the growing incompatibility of peer and parent attachments plays havoc with our power to parent. Author Gordon Neufeld had his head buried in the sand too until his own children abruptly disrupted his denial. “I had never expected to lose my kids to their peers. To my dismay, I noticed that on reaching adolescence both of my older daughters began to orbit around their friends, following their lead, imitating their language, internalizing their values….Its as if the parental influence my wife and I had taken for granted had all of a sudden evaporated….I thought my children were immune: they showed no interest in gangs or delinquency, were brought up in the context of relative stability with an extended family that dearly loved them, lived in a solid family oriented community….” Be mindful that a quiet nice life in safe suburbia, or even having a healthy functional household, is not always enough to secure our children.

I am taking time this summer to read up and go deeper in forming my philosophies of raising and educating my children! I hope you will read with me, grow with me, and find yourself fascinated in our learning. And then share what changes your life with others!! Booklist coming soon!

“My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge.” Hosea 4:6

Hold Onto Your Kids Book Review Part II

Hold Onto Your Kids Book Review Part III

Hold Onto Your Kids Book Review Part IV

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