This chapter was very enlightening. It talked about there being "seasons" to raising children:
1. THE SEASON OF SERVICE: Is from age 0-2 years, where the parents purpose is threefold:
* to assure the child of where he belongs and that he will be taken care of under all circumstances.
* to provide the the child's biological needs-keep him alive and thriving
* to prevent, as much as humanly possible, the child from hurting himself
The mother is the primary servant in the first season and the father is her "parenting aide. The marriage is "catch-as-catch-can" during this season. Around the second birthday there is a critical transition time where the mother:
* teaches and expects her child to do more for himself (toileting, dress himself, pick up toys)
* builds a boundary - making him wait, refusing to pick him up while she finishes something, instructing him to go
elsewhere while she finishes a tack.
* backs out slowly from high involvement and re-establishes a state of high involvement with her husband (p. 170-172)
2. THE SEASON OF LEADERSHIP AND AUTHORITY: Is for about 10 years and is where parents are both seen as authority figures, insisting that he do more and more for himself and that he give them space to do what she needs and wants to do. This is also a time when the mother's relationship with his father trumps her relationship with the child. The parents job is to govern the child so that he internalizes and gradually develops the self-restraint necessary to govern himself responsibly. Whereas service is the rule in season one, it should be the exception from that time on. (p. 172-173)
3. THE SEASON OF MENTORING: This time lasts from about age 13 to about age 18-21. The child is now regarded as self-governing. He needs adult mentors to help him acquire the practical skills he will need once he is emancipated (how to apply for a job, balancing a budget, plans for future). This is the last season of active parenting. (p. 173-174)
4. THE SEASON OF FRIENDSHIP: Now the child's parents are parents in the biological (adopted) sense only: in reality parents and child now regard one another as peers. The younger peer may seek guidance, but now it is provided largely as the child seeks it. (p. 175)
You are not married to your child. Effective leaders (and parents) make unpopular decisions and stay the course, delegate responsibility so as to challenge the capabilities of those they lead and establish a boundary between themselves and those they lead. (p. 176-177)
The author says,
"My mother, typically of her generation, had no problem shooing me out from underfoot, even telling me I had no permission to be in the same room with her if she was doing something that required her undivided attention. At those times, she would usually warn me that if I didn't find something to do and leave her alone, she would find something for me to do. In that regard, my mom was typical of her generation. Today's mom is horrified at the mere thought of telling her child that something she is doing is more important than something he wants her to do." (p. 178)
A father..."is likely to compensate for the loss of relationship with his wife by striving to enter into a close relationship with his child; thus, the new ideal in American fatherhood is to be best buddy to one's child." (p. 180)
"A child, after age three, who is still convinced it is his parent's job to pay attention to him cannot be successfully disciplined. This was caused by well-meaning parents who think that the more attention one pays one's child, the better parent one is." (p. 181)
1. Are you in the season you should be with each child?
2. If you feel you are stuck in a particular season, what social pressures caused you to become stuck?
3. Is there a clear boundary, which you enforce, between yourself and each of your children?