Thursday, August 20, 2009

Peer Orientation

I've said this before, but because it is so true, everyday I hear or see something that confirms that our decision to homeschool is the best one for our family. Usually they are small things, but the one I came across yesterday blew my mind.

***I'm not trying to say that the only way to parent successfully is to homeschool, nor am I saying that your kids cannot have friends. I'm just saying that this is the only way that makes sense to us. I just would not be good at staying connected to my kids or giving them the guidance they need if they were gone most of the time. I always felt like everything that we worked hard on at home was undone at school, we were constantly starting from ground zero. This book has given me some insight as to why this was happening. As for your kids friends, choose them carefully (yes you can choose their friends), they are having a bigger influence than you know. Homeschooling is not perfect, it has it's down falls, but for the most part it works for us. Basically I will have no one to blame but myself if my kids do not turn out to be contributing members of society, the rest of you can blame their friends! ***

The book is called "Hold On to Your Kids" by Gordon Neufeld, Ph.D., and Gabor Mate, M.D. In it the authors describe a phenomenon that is happening to our kids right now. It is called peer orientation. Kids today are more attached to their peers than they are to their parents.

What's the problem you say? Well, tons. First of all it is why parenting has become so much more difficult these days. Our great grandparents didn't need a manual to raise their kids, they had kids that respected authority, were compliant, and eager to please most of the time. Now parenting books fill a whole section at the book store, I have visited it often.

Our ancestors also had a back up system, a support group of sorts, if you were not with your parents and you stepped out of line, you can bet that either a trusted adult corrected you or your Mother would find out about it. A certain high school principle I had comes to mind here, he knew everything that was going on both in and out of school. If you were seen smoking up town after school, you can be sure you would be in his office the next day hearing about it. We have lost this as a society, we no longer take personal responsibility for our kids, we are leaving it up to them. This is having severe consequences, childhood suicide is on the rise, bullying and school violence are a normal occurrence, in general our society is becoming less safe.

Do you find yourself wondering why your kids will not listen to you? Why you must constantly bribe, threaten, and punish them. Do they roll their eyes at you, withdraw to their bedrooms, or prefer to be with their friends? Do you feel like a failure as a parent? Are you thinking that you are just not good at parenting, that other people are just better at it than you are?

Well it's not about finding the right parenting skill or style, it's all about power. Todays parents have lost the power to parent.

Since about WWII that power has shifted from adults to peer groups. As our society has become more "sophisticated," as parents spend more and more time away from home, and children are put in day care at earlier ages, we are losing our grip on our kids.

The book describes attachment as polar or magnetic. When you are strongly drawn to or attached to one thing, you repel another. When you fall in love with someone new, suddenly your ex seems repulsive. You can't be securely attached to two different things at the same time. So if your kids are attached (meaning their needs are being met) by their friends, then they can only reject you. It is human nature, a survival instinct. They want to be attached to you, you are just not available for whatever reason.

So how can we fix this? I'll keep reading and let you know!

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