Agreed. I think that this book (and many other parenting books) assume that if a parent does X, the child will turn out Y. It just ain't so. Every body gets free will. Our children have free will. What we do *may* impact how they turn out, but ultimately they make the real choices about what sort of people they become. Any parent who really believes otherwise is just living in denial.
I parent the way I do because I am following my own moral compass. I'm not under a delusion that raising a human being is like baking a batch of cookie -- if you start with a good recipe and follow all the directions just right, they turn out fine.
It's definitely not a recipe. I know that things that worked beautifully with ds1 have needed some shifting with dd1, and ds2 is a whole other person, with little in common with either of his older siblings. I'm still working on getting a handle on what makes him tick, and I have no idea if I'm doing anything right with him. I know that what we do impacts them, but I think it's very difficult, if not impossible, to see how it will impact them, until it happens.
I'm 45 and agree with you. I think there is a VERY strong trend of being more connected to kids now, and staying connected as they move into the teen years. I see it all over the place.
I also think that there are HUGE variances in how different families do things, so anytime I read something like "The gap opening up between children and parents can seem unbridgeable at times" I immediately start thinking of all the exceptions I know.
I'm almost 43, and I both agree and disagree (and I did love the book). I see a lot more parents who are more involved with their kids, in many ways, than many parents seemed to be when I was a kid. But, I don't think that's the same thing that Neufeld is talking about, and I don't think it has much to do with being a compass point. (I'm with my kids more than my mom was - she was also a SAHM, and very involved, but we were in school all day by dd1 and ds2's ages, and I'm homeschooling.) I don't think I'm any more of a compass point than my my mom was. I do know several families where the parents are connected to their kids, but more like I remember being with my peers than in a more parental role. There's not a lot of guidance, and a lot more concern with being buddy-buddy than with being parents. I don't think parents have to be particularly authoritarian, but I do see parents (I know a couple quite well) who seem content to pass off the guidance/wisdom/life learning part of parenting to their children's friends or the tv. That was the kind of thing that I felt Neufeld was addressing, more than how much time we spend with them, exactly.
Mind you, I honestly see media influence as a bigger factor than peer orientation, as such. I think a lot of the kids/teens in question are taking their cues from tv, movies, etc. and then they're being reinforced within the peer group.
I just got back from a gardening work day at my kids' school -- parents and teens working together on what really is a community garden. I'm sure that what the book says is true about some families, but it just isn't what I see around me.
That sounds cool.