As our children enter middle childhood, they begin to think in more rational, complex ways and their capacity for greater responsibility and a deeper spirituality increases. Our older children are far more self-possessed and can delay gratification for long periods of time. It was at this stage that my children’s unique gifts became more clear and our conversations took on fascinating dimension!
Many (but not all) children begin to take a keener interest in “friends” at this stage – talking on the phone, trying to fit in, and exploring their place within their peer group. The importance and benefits of attachment parenting become increasingly apparent as peer pressure sets in. You must remain the answer to your children’s questions and concerns. Older children can enjoy their friends and participation in peer group activities, but – contrary to what popular culture tells us — it is not “normal” for the peer group to replace family as the primary influence in the child’s life.
In his attachment parenting book, Parenting with Grace, Dr. Gregory Popcak sets out the primary developmental goals during this childhood phase:
- Continuing to develop emotional control and personal competence
- Developing industry (follow through)
- Learning to juggle various responsibilities and peer relationships with family life
- Learning good study habits
- Personalizing, educating, and deepening the spiritual life and conscience
The older child will learn to reach many of these goals by participating in the rhythm of a connected and peaceful family life in which all members of the family give themselves to one another in love. It’s important for Mom & Dad to provide a calm and loving safe harbor as our older children mature through these areas of development. We must model the kind of organization and follow through we wish to instill in our children, and we can provide our older children with the faith formation necessary to deepen their spiritual path beyond little kid stuff.
Parenting With Grace by Dr. Gregory Popcak
The Discipline Book by Dr. William Sears
Playful Parenting by Lawrence Cohen
Hold On to Your Kids by Dr. Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate
Considering Options for Schooling by Kim Cameron-Smith
Photo credit: Paul Simcock (photos.com)