Unchristian by Dave Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons, and the second dovetails beautifully with it, Hold On To Your Kids by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate'. The first is written by Christians and supported by findings from the Barna Research Group. The other is secular, but I find its interpretations and conclusions resonate with my own experiences as both a child once and now a parent of twenty-five years.
Neither book is for those looking to browse and capture enough in a brief perusal. Although I consider myself a Reader with a capital "R", both leave me with so much to chew upon and mull over that I have found the going to be rigorous; yet there is so much of value and weight within that I continually rest and then return to feast upon the wisdom these men have unearthed. Each chapter is a veritable tome in itself, and in my frustrated desires to extract all that is shared upon their pages, I have envisioned a book club in which I and others could spend time in worthy consideration of the contents. Personally, I could do so page by page - there is that much here.
Being the adoptive Mom of two daughters, I have found myself exposed to all kinds of issues and challenges that my parenting of three biological sons had not prepared me for. In our country, if you haven't read about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Hoarding or Gorging, Oppositional Defiance, Bi-Polarism, Identity Issues, and so on prior to adopting, you will find yourself searching fearfully for answers in these dark realms at a later date. Your answers might not lie within any of these spheres, but your familiarity with these challenges will be the greater because you had to look. Adoption does that.
It is because I am an Adoptive Mother that I know something about the issues of Attachment. Neither of these books are specifically about adoption, and Unchristian does not directly address Attachment but there is this ethereal unknown that wafts through the pages while describing the young today. Hold On To Your Kids calls it right out and names it.
I have been befuddled as to the reason why so much change has occurred within the young. And I'm not talking about the vast technological advances, or changes in hair or clothing styles that make them feel so much hipper than the rest of us, or the fact that we now can talk, and text, and email and send pictures from a spot outside of our own homes. I am addressing the far more basic issues of relating; of respect, and compassion, and responsibility being replaced by a predominance of avoidance, and bravado, and contemptuous disdain. Growing up, the killings we heard of on the news were primarily political, and most often far from our own backyard - I recall television scenes of soldiers in Vietnam, and the whispers about the Black September group. My own kids have not only had to deal with extremism on our own soil, but have become familiar with the added element of randomness, snipers picking off unrelated ordinary folk in Washington, numerous shootings in schools by fellow classmates, even a police chase-down of two people with a van full of weapons that ended bloodily in our own little town here in bucolic North Carolina. When we lived in Sacramento, CA it was a frequent enough occurrence for me to have to close the blinds tighter and whisper words of comfort to my babes while helicopter strobe lights raked the peace and quiet of their slumber.
These two books are giving me answers. Both are watchmen upon the wall, sounding a hue and cry for us to wake up now to what we are allowing to happen, and are a help to equip us to deal with the changes. It is not enough to just protect your family behind the wall; you need to prepare your children to deal with what is on the other side and recognize what is happening out there. One family at a time is slow going but worth the effort - especially when we see the alternative. When I heard about the tragic shooting in Arizona this week, it was the first time I didn't simply wonder "Why?" I felt like, sadly, I understood at least in part.