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Anyone read "Hold On to your Kids?" Do you try to avoid peer-orientation?

post #1 of 75
Thread Starter 

I just read this book and it's pretty thought-provoking.  His main argument is that children are naturally programmed to attach to their parents and have their parents be their compass point for learning how to act.  However, today children are becoming peer-oriented and attaching to one another instead of attaching to their parents or other adults.

 

He says that "children today increasingly look to their peers for direction - their values, identity, and codes of behavior. This 'peer orientation' undermines family cohesion, interferes with healthy development, and fosters a hostile and sexualized youth culture.  Children end up becoming overly conformist, desensitized, and alienated, and being 'cool' matters more to them than anything else.

 

What do you think?  Do you have ways that you intentionally try to keep yourself adn your spouse more important in the lives of your children than their peers?  Do you try to limit interactions with peers?

 

My DD is only 2 so I haven't experienced much of this yet but I have heard from many people how important it is that she spend time with other children even at this age, which he argues is not as important as most people believe it is.

post #2 of 75

I haven't read the book, but if you do a search you'll turn up a bunch of threads. :)

post #3 of 75

dd is 8. no i dont worry about that at all - or try to make sure we have the connection.

 

nothing seems to be broken that needs to be fixed.

 

i have given dd a good foundation to think and analyse. i do hope - probably when she is a teen that she separates from me and looks at her peers and makes up her own mind based on what she thinks is right rather than me or her friends. 

 

i take some of that book with a grain of salt. of course in my teens i was 'cool', didnt listen to my parents. i did the opposite of what they said. and we went our own ways. but it wasnt for ever. i was back after i was done with that phase. 

 

i think the book talks about too much in teh extreme. we as parents can only do so much. ultimately its our child's job to figure out which path to take. based on the critical thinking skills i have given dd she should be able to make those decisions. i can never imagine us losing connection though. even if it is a possibility. 

 

i have never limited interaction with peers. i have never chosen her friends for her. and i have never stood up to fight for her. instead i've helped and guided her to deal with the bullies (mild) in her school. in fact its been the opposite. i've tried encouraging friends and dd has asked me to stop. she wasnt interested in them. 

 

there were a couple of kids i didnt really like. they were unfortunately not taught what socially acceptable behaviour was and was getting dd into trouble too at 4. i spoke to dd and asked her to be a little more awere. if i saw her in public and could tell she was getting to the point where she was getting too excited adn would be hard to bring down i would correct her. but i still did not stop her playing with them. in fact in time soon enough she herself stopped playing with them. 

post #4 of 75

I think the problem is that parents set themselves up as the enemy (though that's too strong a word from what I mean). I would have loved to have a closer connection with my parents growing up as a teenager, but it was always us against them. We snuck around to do what we wanted because we knew it wouldn't be allowed or we would get in trouble or they would take the teacher's side or ours, etc. They weren't bad parents, and I never did anything "bad" just stuff they wouldn't approve of. To avoid the drama, we just disconnected and did our own thing without them knowing about it. That's one of the reasons why I think it's important to not try to control our children's lives.

 

Even though I can understand the importance of the book, I can see parents reading this book, and just driving their kids further away by limiting their friends, etc. I think attachment parenting shouldn't be an excuse to micromanage our children's lives to keep them from ever getting hurt.

post #5 of 75

I loved that book. My kids are still very young, 4 and 2, and I think the most important thing I got from the book was to respect their need for dependence and connection. I don't push them to be independent, but let them decide when they are ready to separate from me a little. There can be a lot of societal pressure to push kids to be independent too early and this book helped me resist that pressure. Before reading the book I thought kids needed to be taught how to be independent, that I needed to actively help them separate from me i.e., encourage them to sleep independently, dress themselves, etc... Now I believe that kids demand to be independent when they are ready for it, and that if I meet their needs when they present them, they'll be ready for healthy independence in their own time, in their own way.

 

I know this isn't all the book says, and that other books might say something similar, but that was the take-home message for me and it completely changed my approach to parenting.

 

ETA: About limiting interactions with peers, I don't do that now, and don't know if I will in the future. If I do it will be more about honoring family time and connections. I will make they spend time with me through special outings together, family meals, and vacations, and I'm sure some of those times they'll rather be with their friends than Mom. But I don't think I would restrict time with peers just for the sake of it.

post #6 of 75

I don't limit peer interaction, but I make sure there is lots of time for family interaction as well - family dinners, games after dinner, "family days" which we do regularly where we do one thing after another all together as family.  My daughter plays outside with kids for hours and hours a day in good weather.  That's great exercise, great use of imagination as they do a lot of imaginative play, great living with nature as they play out in the woods, etc.  I don't want her to do without that either as it is also valuable.  I did like the book and I value the perspective, but I've decided limiting her play with neighborhood kids isn't in her best interest.  There's room for both lots of play with kids, and lots of interaction with us.  I don't think there's an "us against them" issue in my family.

post #7 of 75

I love the book.

 

I don't limit my kids' interactions, but I don't "work" on creating them either--something that many mainstream parenting philosophies suggest as necessary.

 

Many would make you believe that if a 2 yo doesn't have 'friends' they are missing on something, and if you don't have your 2 yo in playdates and playgroups you're a bad parent. "OMG, they NEED to have FRIENDS!" I highly doubt that.

 

My 8 yo now has friends, my 6 yo is still not very interested. He loves playing with kids his age, but is still too self centered to understand what friendship is.

 

post #8 of 75

From what I recall the book doesn't advocate limiting kids relationships with other kids but rather making the parent-child connection the strongest it can be. I love that book!

post #9 of 75

I didn't like the fear-based sections of that book. While I think some of his points are fine, the idea that if you don't foster the exact right attachment -- and don't limit/discourage other types of attachment -- really didn't sit well with me. I think sometimes parents take that as an excuse to micromanage, as a PP said, inappropriately. I also think peer attachments can be extremely positive; the idea that all the OTHER kids are into bad stuff is suspect to me. I know teens that really encourage each other to volunteer, get involved, study, etc.

 

I much prefer Mary Pipher, particularly Raising Ophelia if you have girls, and The Shelter of Each Other on families.

post #10 of 75

I too interpreted "Hold on to your kids" as "keep a close relationship" with them and not "keep them away from other kids". While I found parts of the book a bit fear mongering, I think that the overall message was positive: Your kids actually do want to spend time with you when they're teens, even when they don't look like they do.

 

For me, it's about balance -- if your kids' social lives keep them from doing anything with the family, that's not good. At the same time, if your family life keeps them from having friends outside the family, that's not good either.

 

A lot of it in our family is routine: We eat dinner together as a family. Even when that means waiting until 7:15 to eat because ds has basketball practice, or 6:40 because dd has piano. When our kids are teens, it'll take some creativity. I fully expect some resistance to going to church on Sundays, but we've built the routine now. We're also building relationships with peers and families at church so that they'll be connected. We're building relationships with families at school, again so there will be relationships not only with kids, but with families. We also play together -- playful parenting ideas really do help build this connection so kids want to be with you.

 

post #11 of 75

I love Gordon Neufeld. I don't think he means that parents should micromanage - just that they should take a more active role in knowing who the kids are hanging out with/knowing the parents and making sure they are people your kids can look to as substitute "compass points" if they are under their care. I don't find this unreasonable at all. It's the pervasive belief in North American culture that when our kids push us away as teenagers, we should passively accept it because it's "normal". All Neufeld is saying is that this "norm" causes more problems than we realize and that it's within our power as parents to change the culture in our own families - even if this means limiting extra-curricular activities and friend-time so that the family takes priority. 

post #12 of 75

I read the book over 2 years ago now, but it made an impression on me, and i still have many unanswered questions about it. It is actually one of the main books on the Attachment Parenting reading list. Despite that, there are no people irl i know who have read the book, with the exception of  the AP leader. She said  she felt it didnt apply to her (wasnt sure why), so i could never get much  of a conversation going.

 

I think the idea was, that if you lay a good  attachment foundation in the beginning, you wont get the problems of peer attachment later.

 

Im not sure this is true. My then 2yo (ds1) seemed to be a case in point.

Many parents i know, and for some reason, more of them in the ap crowd ( im not sure why this is, maybe i just spend more time with them) struggle with children who wont separate, and who act  asocial, but my son was always the opposite. He separated without a problem, and thrived on the company of his peers. For eg, on a playdate (usually spontaneous), he could not wait to share his toys. The sharing  of toys and playing together with someone else, was part of the fun for him. This from the age of 1. I always thought he was an extreme  extravert because of it.  I struggled to find friends for him, not  in order to 'socialize him' (which seemed to be the preoccupation of most other parents i met), but so he could have fun,  laugh, run around, in ways that kids do with other kids. I still havent met another parent who values this as much as i do.

 
Ds2, has always had the benefit of a sibling. He seems to get the need for laughter and goofiness from  playing with his brother. So that preoccupation of mine is a thing of the past.
 
I like the book because Neufeld seems to explain alot of things i have always wondered about, like  the apparent amorality among  some teenagers, and the lack of respect children develop for their parents. I found it a good explanation, but i still think there is more to it.
 
I was always respectful of my parents. So i never went through that stage. I also think that if parents were more respectful of their kids(in the consensual living sense), maybe this wouldnt happen? I dont think Neufeld addresses this. I could pretty much do as i pleased growing up, so  i attribute that to why i didnt  'rebel'. I used to wish i had a reason to rebel, because it seemed like fun. But i didnt. I thought my parents were cool. 
 
Jumping generations, what bothered me about the book, was the assumption that children who are extraverts must also have some kind of attachement disorder with their parents. I was with my ds1 24/7. He was just an extravert, not disorderly attached.
 
Also the notion that attachment to peers is unnatural, and a response to an attachement disorder with immedate family, seems to be a little far fetched. 
 
The solution to the dilemma of increasing  peer attachement  seemed to be that a parent  has to get to know a childs friends-always host the parties, playdates etc. While i think this is a good idea, how is it workable for every parent? I mean if one parent is always hosting, when do the others get to host?
 
In short, im still confused. Im sure my post is as clear as mud. :-)
post #13 of 75

I like the book very much. I agree it does not recommend limiting peer relationships, only strengthening parent relationships. It didn't lead me to do anything different with DD, just reinforced and clarified what I wanted.

 

I was raised to be oriented toward my parents (my mom, mostly) so this is kind of just natural for me.

 

I do think peer orientation is not ideal. But I think what gets people up in arms is a misunderstanding of the word "orientation" - it doesn't mean that peers are bad for kids (at all! in fact, I firmly agree that children absolutely need friends and peer relationships!). It refers to how children are oriented for their input, learning, approval, etc. Children who are oriented toward their peers are a disadvantage because their peers are no more mature or formed or able to guide than they themselves are. Children who are peer oriented are subject to rapidly changing degrees of acceptance, for example - I think we can all remember stories of kids who turned on a particular kid suddenly, or a popular girl one week who was totally on the outs the next week, or a couple in a trio of friends suddenly reject the third and so on. Children who go through this who are oriented toward their parents will be crushed (I can attest to this personally) but they can also get through it with the loving and STABLE support of their parents (I can, again, attest to this personally). Children who are peer oriented who go through this may feel they have lost the very foundation of their lives, and may have difficulty recovering. Acceptance is only one example, there are other ways that a parent orientation is far more stable, secure, caring, helpful, moral and effective than a peer orientation.

post #14 of 75

There is really no shortage of cultural examples illustrating kids growing up financially and socially oriented to their parents and extended family, and this resulting in desirable qualities such as loyalty, respect, self discipline, etc. Many, many cultures, including many Native American cultures, as well as (and ironically) frontier European American culture, socialized children first and foremost to the work, religion, and values of the parents. Time with other children was associated with leisure time; something that came after all other responsibilities were addressed.

 

Japan is an interesting example of this issue. I just took a course on Japanese culture that focused on modern Japanese family and education systems. The Japanese socialize children to absorb both an intense loyalty to family, as well as thoroughly socializing children to have a strong peer identity. This goes deep into Japanese culture, as they have a very complex social system, in which forms of status and power are not the same thing--which is fairly unique. Hierarchy is extremely important in determining proper behavior towards a person (am I senior to you, or vice versa?). There are endless ways of determining this. Terms of address will differ depending on who is senior/junior in the exchange, even among older/younger siblings, they will have different ways of addressing each other. The only person who is truly your equal is same aged classmates, and this group identity is a critical part of Japanese socialization. Children usually move through elementary school with the same group of children and the same teacher. Children are always grouped by age. The peer identity is used to foster a non-competitive, conformist, group identity that will later transfer to identity with Japanese culture as a whole. Although teens will be introduced to the idea of competition WITH peers, up till aged 12 or so, kids are carefully shielded from competitions between classmates, and most Japanese games focus on cooperation and the necessity of the group to reach a goal. Discipline focuses on conformity. All attention and praise rests on conformity. A child who, for example, refuses to sing a song and plays with blocks will be redirected to singing, and if they still refuse, will be totally ignored by the teachers and other children, as if they don't exist. Attention can only come from conforming, and then the child is praised extensively when they return to the group. In other words, discipline issues are usually seen as conformity issues. The solution is helping the child cooperate and conform to group activities. Throughout your life, your same age class mates remain a special type of relationship, one that is important to the Japanese people.

 

In other words, for Japanese culture, socializing a child to develop a strong peer group identity is CRUCIAL. Parents might debate WHERE to send a child to school but there is no doubt they WILL start school at 6 years of age. Virtually no parent would think of homeschooling. That would rob a child of an essential part of growing up Japanese. Although Japanese value individualism, they do not value individuality in the way the West does--we tend to picture ourselves as the center of our universe with everything else radiating out like spokes on a wheel. Understanding your place in relation to others is very important to the Japanese, who place themselves in relation to others in a very complex web that is ever changing, and tremendous energy is spent by parents and teachers inculcating proper concepts of this social system into children.

 

This is all according to my teacher--if a Japanese person wants to correct anything here please do!

post #15 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by sweetpeppers View Post
Even though I can understand the importance of the book, I can see parents reading this book, and just driving their kids further away by limiting their friends, etc. I think attachment parenting shouldn't be an excuse to micromanage our children's lives to keep them from ever getting hurt.


I read and enjoyed the book and I can't see how anyone would get that from it, honestly. The whole thing was about maintaing your place as your child's compass point, not about micromanaging their friendships.

 

I don't limit peer interaction. However, I'm also homeschooling (decision made long before I read Hold Onto Your Kids), partly because I don't like the peer vibe in the schools. I'm not talking about stuff I read in papers, either. DS1 was public schooled and there's a peer "thing" there that I don't like. We consider it normal in our culture, but I don't really think it is. It makes no sense to me that children should be learning how to behave and what social expectations are from other children, instead of from adults.

 

I've certainly never tried to prevent my kids from getting hurt. I don't like it when it happens, and I do guide them and comfort them, but getting hurt is part of life. I absolutely never limited any of my children's friends, including one 2-3 year friendship of ds1's that I considered toxic (it eventually imploded on its own). I don't think it's my job to tell him who to like and hang out with...and it doesn't work, anyway.

post #16 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by contactmaya View Post

I think the idea was, that if you lay a good  attachment foundation in the beginning, you wont get the problems of peer attachment later.

 

I don't think he ever suggested that you won't get peer attachment, or even that peer attachment is undesirable. He was talking about orientation, not attachment.

 

Im not sure this is true. My then 2yo (ds1) seemed to be a case in point.

Many parents i know, and for some reason, more of them in the ap crowd ( im not sure why this is, maybe i just spend more time with them) struggle with children who wont separate, and who act  asocial, but my son was always the opposite. He separated without a problem, and thrived on the company of his peers. For eg, on a playdate (usually spontaneous), he could not wait to share his toys. The sharing  of toys and playing together with someone else, was part of the fun for him. This from the age of 1. I always thought he was an extreme  extravert because of it.  I struggled to find friends for him, not  in order to 'socialize him' (which seemed to be the preoccupation of most other parents i met), but so he could have fun,  laugh, run around, in ways that kids do with other kids. I still havent met another parent who values this as much as i do.

 
I was always trying to find playmates for ds1 (at least until his cousin came along), for the same reason. He loved it. I never felt he needed to be "socialized" by other children. I just felt that he needed to socialize, in the "hang out with people" sense. DS1 is also very, very extraverted.
 
I like the book because Neufeld seems to explain alot of things i have always wondered about, like  the apparent amorality among  some teenagers, and the lack of respect children develop for their parents. I found it a good explanation, but i still think there is more to it.
 
I was always respectful of my parents. So i never went through that stage. I also think that if parents were more respectful of their kids(in the consensual living sense), maybe this wouldnt happen? I dont think Neufeld addresses this. I could pretty much do as i pleased growing up, so  i attribute that to why i didnt  'rebel'. I used to wish i had a reason to rebel, because it seemed like fun. But i didnt. I thought my parents were cool. 
 
I rebelled, in a big way. But, not against my parents. They didn't let me do "pretty much what I pleased"...but they did let me be who I was. I rebelled against...well, pretty much everything else - school and school authorities, rules made just to have rules, expectations that I must have the same goals for myself that others had for me, etc. Mind you, I never thought that rebelling was fun. I just couldn't stand feeling pushed down all the time.
 
Jumping generations, what bothered me about the book, was the assumption that children who are extraverts must also have some kind of attachement disorder with their parents. I was with my ds1 24/7. He was just an extravert, not disorderly attached.
 
Also the notion that attachment to peers is unnatural, and a response to an attachement disorder with immedate family, seems to be a little far fetched. 
 
I'm going to have to re-read the book, because I don't remember anything about this anywhere.
 
The solution to the dilemma of increasing  peer attachement  seemed to be that a parent  has to get to know a childs friends-always host the parties, playdates etc. While i think this is a good idea, how is it workable for every parent? I mean if one parent is always hosting, when do the others get to host?

 

I think he was talking within a context where other parents don't necessarily want to host the parties, playdates, etc. If you host things occasionally, and the kids know who you are, and you know them, then the overall purpose is served, imo.

 

DS1 is almost 18. He doesn't socialize at home much. (We live in a small townhouse, with no yard, and he has three much younger siblings. Three of his closest friends have large houses, including space of their own - a rec room with recording equipment and a small fridge, a whole basement, etc. He can go to J's house and have dance parties and stay up until 1:00, which just can't happen here with the little ones.) But, I've still met a few of the parents and most of the friends (ds1, his best friend J and I went to see Iron Maiden together a few months back!). I have a good grasp of who his closest friends are, and what they do when they hang out together. Some of them have been here a few times to go swimming or have a sleepover. He's separating - heck, he may be moving out in a few months! - but I still know what goes on in his life, in a general sense. He still knows I'm here if he needs guidance. And, his friends also have parents who are involved and are around, as well. These aren't people who have just been cut loose to figure it out on their own. As far as I can tell, the parent orientation and solid family attachments they've all been blessed with have given them a very good foundation for healthy, positive peer attachments, as well. The two aren't mutually exclusive, but I do think peer orientation makes forming healthy, positive relationships - with friends and family - much more difficult.

post #17 of 75

contactmaya - don't confuse attachment with *orientation*. Peer orientation means that a child looks to a peer or peers for guidance on how to behave/dress/etc INSTEAD of looking to his/her parent(s) who are children's natural compass points if only the relationship is maintained and nurtured. 

post #18 of 75

I'm parenting an almost teen, and I find that peer orientation is part of the package, and I would worry if it wasn't.  It doesn't really impact our family in terms of parents being the "compass".  We are.  I found the book interesting, but not really relevant, esp. as a more experienced parent.  It doesn't make sense, to me, to fear or try to keep away the normal process of separation that kids go through.  

post #19 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by karne View Post

I'm parenting an almost teen, and I find that peer orientation is part of the package, and I would worry if it wasn't.  It doesn't really impact our family in terms of parents being the "compass".  We are.  I found the book interesting, but not really relevant, esp. as a more experienced parent.  It doesn't make sense, to me, to fear or try to keep away the normal process of separation that kids go through.  



If you are your kid's compass then they aren't peer-oriented. They may be attached and I agree this is normal. Peer orientation is the norm in our culture and definitely not desirable.

post #20 of 75

But we are the compass, and she is peer oriented.  It's not really an either or situation, and I definitely wouldn't want to set it up as such.  By peer oriented I mean that friends/peers are becomingly increasingly important, and being part of a group of friends, and having some common bonds is important as well.  Having some ideas and experiences that are shared with peers, but aren't part of home life happens at this age too.  The compass part comes in when there are issues of judgement and trust involved.  What we've taught, and our values, are the compass.  I don't however, mean to say, that we expect, or want, our dd to think and act in lockstep with us.  At this age, she's her own person with thoughts and feelings that are her own, which we respect.  I think this is why we do have such a good relationship-and when you get to the years of parenting kids moving into their teens, this is no small thing.

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