I highly recommend this book to all parents and those who work with youth. Mrs. Peck shares her wealth of knowledge and experience with the reader as she describes the principles that she discovered and developed through parenting her own children and many foster-children.
This book helped me see parenting and family responsibilities much like I view political economy. Too often, through main stream media, tradition, or other influences, we get caught up in policy and reactionary responses to specifics. There is much talk of this legislation, that executive order, or some movement, and an argument ensues about the perceived merits or faults of these things. What is lacking in the conversation is an understanding of the principles behind the specifics. If we approach all we do based on true principles, the headache and confusion of specific problems give way to direction and confidence of knowing what to do – of seeing the unseen consequences of our reactions to seen problems.
This is no truer than in the realm of families and parenting.
Nicholeen teaches the principles she used to go beyond disciplinary measures and controlling behaviors. Instead, she focuses on helping individuals understand that they have purpose, and only through learning to govern oneself can we find true happiness and achieve that purpose.
I’d like to share a couple of paragraphs from page 9 under the heading What is Self-Government?
What is self-government? It is being able to determine the cause and effect of any given situation, and possessing the knowledge of your own behaviors so that you can control them.
How do you teach your children to govern themselves? First, you must have vision and give your family a sense of mission. Second, and effective family government, or governing system, must be in place in the home. Third, all family members need to learn effective communication skills and respect. Fourth, the feeling in the home must support the family vision. Parents have to partner up with a higher poser. And finally, good character-everyone must have it.
We were put into our families for specific reasons, and it is up to each of us to find out what those reasons are and not just exist there in the normal mediocrity of society. It is time to restore parenting to what it used to be a hundred plus years ago. That was a time when parents-not society-were in charge of their own children. Mothers and fathers saw what their children needed to become and set about the task of helping them achieve their vision, no matter how many changes in their own life it would require. At that time young people saw and understood what it meant to be an adult and wanted that life. They focused on acting and thinking as an adult would. They were focused on choosing right and becoming what they felt God wanted them to become.
After reading this excerpt, the logical response is to ask HOW? It starts with vision. Your family vision is what you want your family to be. How you want to interact with each other. How you want to feel when you are around each other. What type of people do you want to be.
Closely associated with vision is mission. The vision is the WHAT, and the mission is HOW. How will you interact, correct behavior, express love and concern, work together, play together, etc? When these decisions are based on your family vision, you are certain to be progressing toward that vision.
Of course there are bumps in the road, and Nicholeen shares her process for correcting behaviors and training children to choose correct behaviors because they understand the consequences of all possible choices. Throughout it all, Peck’s love for children and faith that they are great souls with divine potential infuses her methods. She also frequently recognizes that the specific plans in her home aren’t necessarily the way you should operate within your own family. She says that the most important thing for us to do is involve God in our plans and allow Him to direct our efforts.
I couldn’t agree more.
Nicholeen’s personality is unique. At times, this distracted me from her message. Her delivery is also imperfect, but I am reminded of the scriptures that teach us that small and simple and imperfect things will bring about great good and make way for miracles. That said, Nicholeen’s efforts are not small and simple. Imperfect, yes, but she is fulfilling her mission and purpose, and the impact that will have on individuals and families is profound and important.
I am grateful to have come across this book. Ashlee and I will be working on implementing these principles in our family. We have already started in some small measure, and there are apparent improvements already.
I conclude by repeating my recommendation that every parent or individual working with youth reads this book and considers how they should incorporate its teachings in their lives.