On a good friend's recommendation, I recently picked up this book at the library:
One word: Amazing.
Okay, there are very few situations where I feel like one word is really sufficient, and besides, I like to talk. So I'm not going to leave it at one word.
The author (who I'll herein refer to as "Gord", because I think he's great and I feel like he's my friend) talks about how we have an issue in our day and age, not with discipline and a lack of respect in children, but in attachment. That most children are no longer attaching in a healthy way to their parents primarily, and then giving a second place to their peers, but attaching to their peers and looking to them for their morals, values, and cues about almost everything. Gord refers to this phenomenon as "peer orientation".
I was shocked to discover how much of our society sets up peer orientation. We are constantly pushing our children to be more independent (and then getting upset when they show signs of - guess what? - independence), and pushing them towards their friends instead of fostering attachment with us, their parents, and other adults in their lives. He talked about how even when we step through the doors of a religious institution, we're automatically separated by age - babies in the nursery, young kids in Sunday school, teens in youth group - instead of encouraged to be with our families in a multigenerational setting. That really hit me. What also hit me was when Gord was talking about how parents, when getting together with other parents, push the kids to "go play" while the adults sit and have their conversation. Guilty as charged!
It's interesting how we've really lost that "old school" way of doing things, and how it no longer takes a village to raise a child. In the past, the butcher and the mailman all knew your parents and your family, and children interacted with all generations in a village. Families spent time together - from infants to great-grandparents - and children knew they had many trustworthy adults around them whom they could go to. That seems to be no longer.
I'm really enjoying this book so far. I love it on a parenting level, to give us tips and insight on how to raise our children differently, but also because it shows how the way we've set up our North American lives just isn't working. Or at least, not working well. I've talked about this before, but all of this is just another reason why I believe we're meant to live in authentic community with each other.
Because it's true - it takes a village to raise a child. Never before has the weight of parenting rested on the shoulders of just two (and sometimes only one) adult. And I think we can see how well that is working out.