This chapter starts with a question that many of us parents ask in a different way….How is it that in today’s world, children so readily transfer their attachments from nurturing adults to each other? What we ask, but which can be translated to the above is, how is it that parenting is so hard in today’s world?
The answer to both are given to us by Dr Gordon Neufeld: The cause is not individual parenting failure but an unprecedented cultural breakdown for which our instincts cannot adequately compensate. After thinking of this for a long time, after reading the book and going through it again for the second time, I can see how true this is!
Our society does not cater for our children; or to be more precise to the developmental needs of our children. We are shown how the economic forces and cultural trends dominant in the past decades have dismantled what used to be a natural process – the innate attachment drive that bonded the young with their caregivers until maturity.
The effects of society in forcing both parents to work outside the home has had a profound impact on attachment. We are reminded really, how caring for the young is undervalued in society and how that effects not just the parents but also the institutions that are caring for the young instead of the parents.
Children are lacking a set of nurturing adult relationships and they compensate for that by attaching to their peers. Many of us see nothing wrong with children starting day care from babies, go to kindergarten and school and are most of the time for their whole childhood with peers instead of adults. It is actually I feel revered that children spend so much time with peers ‘so they learn socializing’.
We are reminded how owing to geographic dislocations and frequent moves, today’s children are less likely to enjoy the company of elders committed to their welfare. Further examples are given to us like the family doctor, generic businesses etc. He asks us: Where are the surrogate grandparents, uncles and aunts who supplements and substituted the nuclear and extended family? Where is the adult attachment safety net should parents become inaccessible? Where are the adult mentors to help guide our adolescents? Our children are growing up peer rich and adult poor!
We move on to how family ties are under pressure all the time even if the nuclear family is still intact. How society puts a higher value on consumerism than the healthy development of children. How the natural attachments are actually discouraged for economic reasons.
The rapid changes and technology have lost us our cultural customs and traditions – which take hundreds of years to build up. It gives us insights here on how technology is undermining our own parenting and inhibiting attachment with adults by our own doing.
Lastly in this chapter we are introduced to 2 types of how attachments form…one is through us parents by knowing others and showing our children they can trust them and the other is through a need of attachment because of a void he children actually feel.
This is quite an intense chapter. It hurt reading it. It made me sad and angry. It made me see why I have to work so much harder with my children and why as a family we find it so difficult to embrace modern life with our ideals.