Currently reading Hold on to your kids by Dr Gordon Neufeld & Gabor Mate! If you wish to read this book feel free to collect it from the lending library. The second chapter of this fascinating book is called Skewed Attachments, Subverted Instincts.
This chapter starts with the story of parents reaching out for help after their daughter, became suddenly very difficult to talk to, insolent, secretive. Non of the usual discipline methods were working and her mother felt used and abused. Here the author likens this to us adults having a partner who suddenly avoid us, talks in monosyllables, is irritable with us and generally acts strange. If we were to ask for advice from friends, he says, they will not ask us if we tried a time out or made the boundaries clear. It will be obvious from the start that this is a relationship problem and not a behavioural problem. Not only that, we will probably be told that it is likely our partner has an affair. Now this though does not occur to us when the relationship is between child and parent!
In our culture, peer relationships have come to compete with children’s attachments to adults. Quite innocently but with devastating effects, children are involved in attachment affairs with each other.
We are now asked what is attachment? The simple answer it seems is that without it we can do nothing! AND, because of the culture we are living in right now, we need to become aware – conscious- of attachment as it can’t be taken for granted that it will remain stable as in olden days. While for us adults, attachment can be said that it is the most important thing for us, for children it is an absolute need!
Attachment we are told is closely related to orienteering because like orienteering, if we get lost or something we get anxious and our top priority at this point will simply be to find our way. This happens to us also on a psychological level and children are not able to do it on their own – they need help- attachment is THAT help!
In page 19 we are told how the thing children fear most apart for physical harm is getting lost. Orienting voids is intolerable to the human brain. Parents are the best compass for children – or another adult. Yet, more and more children are now orbiting around each other instead of adults. That is quite a lot to take in! Reading it made me feel really afraid for our children, for society. Looking at it from this perspective, I could really see how this is one of the biggest challenges we will have to go through as parents. It is also very sad that not a lot of this is talked about and many of us will go through this without having an idea of what is wrong and why nothing is working.
Next we learn about the six ways of attaching…. if I look at this through the eyes of a positive discipline educator, I can see how this all adds up nicely to what I preach in my conscious discipline classes.
- Senses: because for the first 7 years using the senses is the most important part of development.
- Sameness: we can see this clearly in toddlerhood up to 7 years where imitation is at its peak.
- Belonging and loyalty: we all need to feel to belong. Unless there is that feeling, we are not happy and we can’t connect to the people we are near to.
- Significance: closely related to the above, unless we feel we matter to others, we feel disconnected from the world around us.
- Feeling: as humans, being shown love, kindness etc make us feel that we matter and belong.
- Being known: lastly, because we are being felt, because we matter and belong, we are open to let those people know us. We need to feel known!
Six ways of attaching but only one underlying drive for connection. If development is healthy, these six strands become interwoven into a strong rope of connection that can preserve closeness even under the most adverse of circumstances.
It continues to say, that those children that became peer oriented, tend to not develop in certain areas and this adds to the reasons why WE the parents need to matter more than peers. It shows us, how of children seduced away by peers will turn against us and look more towards their peers for anything they seek for attachment. This is also why, children tend to act aggressively towards parents when they become peer oriented.
It is simply an intuitive mechanism that we have. Only, the original purpose was to keep children close to parents; but when this attachment fails, it turns against us as they will want to keep close to their peers.
One needs to sit quietly after each chapter to understand what we have read and really come to grasp with it! What are your views? share to care?