Hold onto your Kids

At a certain point in my parenting world I had read so many books on the subject of discipline, potty training, raising girls, raising boys that I became confused.  A lot of it made sense on paper and yet when I applied myself towards these philosophies I always seemed to come up short.  In my confusion and feelings of failure I put the books down and decided that my best was good enough.  

After a parenting book vacation of a couple of years I recently picked up "Hold On To Your Children - Why parents Matter" by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate.  I devoured it and will be reading it again.  It is by far the best parenting book I have read.  It does not depict how to discipline children but goes deeper and talks about when children are well attached to their parents they will automatically fall into good behavior and want to emulate the parent.  In our society we have set things up where children are raising children.  Children have become "peer oriented" and tend to look at their peers for direction, right and wrong values and code of behavior. 

What children need are strong adult relationships so they can emulate mature adults.  This is not to say that children are not to play with other children but that we often put our children in situations where children are raising children.  I see it in my own children.  Last year I was wondering what was going on with my Zoe. She would come home from school with attitude I had never seen on a little 7 year old.  She was rude and acted like a different person.  Reading this book I had an aha moment.  She was emulating her friends, feeling more connected to her friends than she was with me and she was pushing me away.  I am now concentrating on building my relationship with both Zoe and Owen so that we build strong attachments and strong relationships.  It is amazing what is happening with us.  They are more affectionate with me and I am more gentle and nurturing with them.  Discipline has also gotten easier.

Another light bulb moment this book brought was the realization that I was a total peer oriented child.  My parents had no control over me and I had no desire to stick around home. Come grade 9 I was out of there, gone most days and evenings and moved out at the age of 17.  Another belief we have is that this is common teenage behavior when in fact teenagers who have healthy, mature attachments to their parents want to hang out with them. In reading this and reflecting on my own adolescent behavior something within me healed which has allowed to me to be more present towards my children.  As I realize that being a parent requires more than being physically there it hinges on being "emotionally" here.
 I recommend this book to every parent. Here is a a little taste of what you will find.
Hold On To Your Children - Why Parents Matter by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate
"Of course, it is self-fulfilling that when a child replaces parents with peers, friends become more important than family.  We declare that this must be normal and then take the irrational leap of assuming that this must also be natural. We then go out of our way to make sure that our children have "friends" putting at risk the relatiohshiop with the family.  Peers displace parents ever further and the downward spiral perpetuates itself.

One more word about friendship. Developmentally, children have a much greater need for a relationship with themselves than for relationship with peers. This requires a separation between sense of self and inner experience......


JP Stories in Bogotá said...

brilliantly written Annie. It's funny cuz I have found myself in that moment of 'putting all the books away' right now... also feeling more confused and frustrated and filled with self-doubt by what I read. Instead, I am finding faith in my own judgment and trusting that with love, grace and self-reflection I can be the person that these little souls most need me to be, and in turn, allow us all to grow in the process. Thank you for sharing your insights... i might just have to order this book (though perhaps not right away *smile*).

Steph L said...

Hey Annie, thanks for recommending this book! I don't have much time for reading these days, but this is one I can definitely come back to months or even years down the road when the parenting challenges start to change.

And it's funny because I can relate to you and the idea of being a "peer oriented child". I also wanted to be out and doing things with friends all the time, and also moved out at 17. I traveled any chance I could and thought that life experience was way more important than being in a classroom. My parents could never stop me...or didn't have the patience to want to try. I am the youngest of 5 so I think they were a bit worn out when it comes to raising a teenager. And I should mention I'm a Taurus so was also VERY stubborn... :) But I remember doing things just because my friends did, and not caring if it got me in trouble. Pretty common for pre-teens/ teens I think, and I hope that I can teach them and continue to have patience for my kids. Will always make sure to listen!

Anyways, I'm glad you brought it up because it's an issue I know will come up when my kids get older and I want to be prepared for it as best I can. :) Maybe you can lend me some tips.