- How do people hold on to their kids: the Tiger Mother and the immigrant parent
- Problems with child-centered "sociability," II: digesting those excerpts
- What kinds of peer groups and parenting styles are most problematic for "peer orientation"?
The reason C. could be "important" to a freshman seminar, I assume, is that he is naturally attuned to adults. Now that I've read Neufeld, I realize C. has essentially none of that .... I don't know what to call it.
That 'clubby,' secret-identity feeling you get from many adolescents----?
C. feels at home with adults. Put it that way.
The parent/teacher connection struck me so forcefully when I read Neufeld side-by-side with Steinberg (Beyond the Classroom). Kids raised in permissive homes, Steinberg shows, are peer-oriented; kids raised in authoritative homes are oriented toward adults: parents and teachers.
Steinberg's research shows that adult-orientation is highly productive in terms of school and entry-level jobs. By the time kids are 18, the difference between peer-orientation and adult-orientation is significant..
For the record, I don't really know how we raised an adult-oriented teen in a peer-oriented culture. Until 2 months ago I'd never heard of Neufeld, and when my kids were little I shared with everyone else the same unexamined set of beliefs about the importance of peer socialization -- maybe especially so given the fact that out typical child, C., had two autistic brothers.
I can't say that I worried about socialization (I didn't), but I did fret about it from time to time....I wondered whether C. was too shy, and when he was little I was constantly shlepping him to play dates hither and yon. But as he grew older I didn't bother with the play dates. C. always had a solid group of friends who were and are good kids; in fact, he still has today almost every friend he made when he was as young as age 4. He has another set of friends from his Jesuit high school and a new group now at NYU. The fact that C. had friends seemed good enough to me, so I spent my time worrying about math.
As to why he was an adult-oriented child, I'm guessing the reasons include:
- Authoritative parenting - both Ed and I had authoritative parents ourselves; permissive parenting is pretty foreign to our experience. While Neufeld doesn't talk about authoritative parenting (at least not in the first third of his book) I suspect authoritative parenting per se probably produces adult-orientation.
- 2 siblings with autism - from early days, I knew C. would one day be responsible for his siblings, and that fact has always been front and center. My goal has been to socialize C. to understand and welcome this fact -- not to protect him from knowledge of his fate, as other parents of disabled kids sometimes seem to do. As a direct result, C. is great working with disabled kids. I don't (necessarily) see him going into special education, but he would be terrific as a SPED teacher or therapist.
- Strength in numbers - because of the 2 boys with autism, we have always had a crazy number of adults in the house. As I write now, there are 3 adults in the house and just one child, Andrew. I remember years ago, reading Jean Kerr I think it was, on the subject of having twins. As I recall, she said that when it's 2 parents and 1 kid, you're in charge. When suddenly it's 2 parents and 3 kids (the Kerrs had a singleton and then twins same way Ed and I did), suddenly you're outnumbered and everything changes. In our house, the grown-ups have had parity with the kids.