Monday, June 23, 2008

Book Review

In the right hand sidebar are a few updated book baskets. How quickly those get outdated. In my book basket I have listed, Home Is Where the Learning Is by Valerie Steimle. The book wasn't earth shattering in content, however, the eight stories were each very different which kept my interest enough to keep reading to the finish line. Typos were common, which is very ironic for a homeschooling book. One would think with all the scrutinizing home school families get, the editor, a homeschooling parent herself, would be a little more aware of producing a near perfect product. Anyway, I want to focus on chapter two, a spectacularly written chapter titled, Living the Homeschool Lifestyle Over a Lifetime. The author of that chapter, Cherie Logan, writes in detail about five elements she believes should go into a family's homeschooling plan.
  1. Developing the Long View - Purpose
  2. Philosophies which guide behavior to match view
  3. Structure to support the view
  4. Communication skills to enrich understanding and bring us to eternal companionship with our children
  5. Attitude Management because it is the attitude that keeps the fire lit

I am going to focus on element 4, which was completely new territory for me. I'd never read anything nor had a conversation with anyone about the topic of eternal companionship with our children. First she explains the need to be parent and friend at the same time. OK, I'd thought about this delicate balance before, but she quantified it for me. And believe me, for this math loving, percentage using, objective mom, that was a good thing. The basis is this, when the child is small, mom and dad are 90% parent, 10% friend. At this time children need to know the boundaries, rules, consequences to their actions. They also need a friend (a little bit); someone to read stories to them, tickle their bellies, laugh at their silly jokes and ride bikes with. As the child ages the percentages shift very gradually so that when the child reaches adulthood we parents are 90% friend, 10% parent. We've all seen situations where parents want to be their child's friend from day 1. By the time the child reaches adolescence they may be belligerent, sassy, inappropriate people. Then the parent tries to parent and the teen won't allow it, making for very difficult and messy teen years, for both the parent and child. So the percentage thing was very enlightening to me.

I also liked her guidelines for how children should navigate their way into the adult world. Starting at age 10 and ending at age 18, she lays out the common path youngsters travel as they make their way into adult conversations.

At age 10 they start to hover around, not wanting to add anything to the adult conversation, but wanting to hear every bit of it.

At age 12, if they've been allowed to hover, may begin to add to the conversations. They might say out of place statements and draw attention to themselves. This is a trial and error time for them.

At age 14, if they've been part of the adult conversations, they begin to add appropriate meaningful material. With intense emotion they may begin to challenge adults viewpoints. They are searching for adults who will have real conversation and take them seriously. If they've been pushed away during the above stages they might begin to think that adults don't care and may begin to retreat from adult conversations, especially with their parents. This is also the time where the generation gap begins, if the child is pushed away.

At age 16, the youth wants social, thoughtful, fun, companionable conversation and interaction with adults. They are nearing adulthood and their ease of joining in adult conversations now will help them enter the adult world with ease. They rarely embarrass parents at this stage. Again, if the previous stages have been denied, the teen will become very secretive. They have their emotions more under control making it appear things are calmer, but they are moving to accept the differences between parent and teen as normal and expect nothing more.

At age 18, it is time for the final shift in how the parent converses with the new adult. The parent needs to lead this transition. The teen no longer has to prove themselves, they are adults. It's time they prove they are good adults and it's their own responsibility. They need to make decisions and follow through. They need to inform parents as to their where abouts and then make good on those by actually being there. They need to be responsible, just as we adults are.

This review got very long, so thank you for sticking with me. If you are a parent of children in the 10-18 range, I believe this section of the book would be very enlightening to you.


  1. I like the phrase "eternal companionship" and the way you describe the author's thoughts on that. I feel like this is very much like my relationship with my parents, and the relationship I hope to be fostering with my own daughter. I can still remember the thrill of being allowed to sit at the table with the adults after holiday dinners and listen to the stories and debates, and to once in a while feel like I had something to add.

    The friend/parent balance can be tricky, but this author has the right idea - it isn't all or nothing, and it isn't always the same.

  2. A quick note from A Catholic Notebook. . . . you can add your favorite books to the Blogger's Choice Catholic Reading List until Wednesday. The deadline was extended due to some special requests! I can't wait to see and share the results at the end of the week. Come on by!


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