‘What has changed is the culture in which we are rearing our children. Children’s attachments to parents are no longer getting the support required from culture and society. Even parent-child relationships that at the beginning are powerful and fully nurturing can become undermined as our children move out into a world that no longer appreciates or reinforces the attachment bond.
For the first time in history young people are turning for instruction, modeling, and guidance not to mothers, fathers, teachers, and other responsible adults but to people whom nature never intended a parenting role – their own peers.
The term that seems fit more than any other phenomenon is peer orientation. It is peer orientation that has muted our parenting instincts, eroded our natural authority and caused us to parent not from the heart but from the head – from manuals, advice from experts and the confused expectations of society.
Children need to get their sense of direction from somebody.
Children cannot be oriented to both adults and other children simultaneously.
So ubiquitous is peer orientation these days that it has become the norm. This does not mean it is natural or healthy.
Throughout human evolution and until the Second World War, adult orientation was the norm in human development. We have become divorced from our intuitions and we have unwittingly become peer orientated ourselves.
Carl Jun suggested that it is not even so much what happens in the parent-child relationship hat has the greatest impact on the child. What is missing in that relationship leaves the greatest scar on the child’s personality.
If peers have replaced adults as the ones that matter the most, what is missing from those relationships is going to have the most profound impact. (Such as unconditional love, acceptance, desire to nurture, the ability to extend oneself for the other). Parents come out looking like saints.
Aren’t our children meant to become independent of us? Absolutely, but only when our job is done and only in order for them to be themselves. Fitting in with the immature expectations of the peer group is not how the young grow to be independent, self-respecting adults.
Children may know what they want, but it is dangerous to assume that they know what they need…a child does not know best…to nurture our children, we must reclaim them and take charge of providing for their attachment needs.
Because culture no longer leads our children in the right direction – toward genuine independence and maturity – Parent’s and other child-rearing adults matter more than ever before.
Act from understanding and empathy. If we know how to be with our children and who to be for them, we need much less advice on what to do.
We are creatures of attachment. Without attachment there would be no family.
Closely related to the orienting instinct, attachment is crucial to parenting, to education and to the transmission of culture.
Psychological orientation is just as important in human development. As children grow, they have an increasing need to orient: to have a sense of who they are, of what is real, why things happen, what is good, what things mean. To fail to orient is to suffer disorientation, to be lost psychologically – a state our brains are programmed to do almost anything to avoid. Children are utterly incapable of orienting by themselves. They need help.
First business of attachment is to create a compass point. What children fear, more than anything, is getting lost.
Our children’s peers are not the ones we want them to depend upon. They are not the ones to give our children a sense of themselves, to point out right from wrong, to distinguish fact from fantasy, to identify what works and what doesn’t, and to direct them as to where to go and how to get there.
Six ways of attaching: senses, sameness, belonging and loyalty, significance, feeling, being known.
Our society does not serve the development needs of our children.
Society has generated economic pressure for both parents to work outside the home when children are very young, but has made little provision for the satisfaction of children’s needs for emotional nourishment.
Education and childcare professions are seldom taught about attachment.
The reasoning behind parenting as a set of skills seemed logical enough, but in hindsight has been a dreadful mistake. It has led to an artificial reliance on experts, robbed parents of their natural confidence, and often leaves them feeling dumb and inadequate.
Getting a child to look at us and listen to us is foundational to all parenting.
If all goes well, the drive for physical proximity with the parent graduallut evolves into a need for emotional connection and contact.
The desire for sameness with important attachment figures leads to some of the Childs most significant and spontaneous learning experiences, even though closeness, not learning, is the u settling motivation. Such learning occurs without either the parent having much conscious intent of teaching or the child studying. In the absence of attachment the learning of laboured and teaching forced.
Our children copy each other’s language gestures, actions, attitudes and preferences. The learning is just as impressive, but the content s no longer in our control.
The job of parenting becomes immeasurably more complicated when we are not the model our child is emulating.
One of the fundamental take of parenting is to provide direction and guidance to our children.
The transmission of culture is, normally, an automatic part of child rearing. In addition to facilitating dependence, shielding against external stress, and giving birth to independence, attachment also is the conduit of culture. As long as the child is properly attaching to the adults responsible the culture flows into the child.
Children able to experience emotions of sadness, fear, loss, and rejection will often hide such feelings from their peers to avoid exposing themselves to ridicule and attack. Invulnerability is a camouflage they adopt to blend in with the crowd but will quickly remove in the company of those with whom they have the safety to be their true selves. … in such an environment genuine curiousity cannot thrive, questions cannot be freely asked, naive enthusiasm for learning cannot be expressed. Risks are not taken in such an environment, nor can passion for life and creativity find their outlets.
It seems peer oriented kids have a need to protect themselves against vulnerability to as a great a degree as traumatised children.
Peer oriented children lose their natural shield against stress.
The Childs personal world is is one of intense interactions and events that can wound: being ignored, not being important, being excluded, not measuring up, experiencing disapproval, not being liked, not being preferred, being shamed and ridiculed. What protects the child from experiencing the brunt of all this stress is an attachment with a parent. It is attachment that matters: as long as the child is not attached to those who belittle him, there is relatively little damage done. The taunts can hurt and cause tears at the time, but the effect will not be long lasting. When the parent is the compass point, it is the messages he or she gives that are relevant.
Attachment protects th child from the outside world.
Peer relationships are inherently insecure.
Parents offer their children precisely what is missing from peer attachments: unconditional acceptance.
The love, attention, and security only adults can offer liberates children from the need to make themselves invulnerable and restores to them that potential for life and adventure that can never come from risky activities, extreme sports, or drugs. Without safety our children are forced to sacrifice their capacity to grow and mature pyschologically, to enter into meaningful relationships, and to pursue their deepest and most powerful urges for self expression.
The flight from vulnerability is flight from the self.
If we do not hold our children close to us, the ultimate cost is the loss of their ability to hold on to their truest selves. ❤️
Peer orientation foments aggression:
Peer oriented children are less able to effect change: of all the frustrations the most threatening for children is that they cannot make themselves pyschologically and emotionally secure. These important needs to be wanted, invited, liked, loved and special – are out of their control. As longs as parents are successful in holding on to our children, they need not be confronted with this deep futility.
It is not that we can forever protect them from reality, but children should not have to face challenges they are not ready for.
The way to children’s minds has always been through their hearts.
The real spoiling of children is not in indulging of demands or the giving of gifts but in the ignoring of their genuine needs.
The more children are pushed, the tighter they cling – or, failing that, they nest with someone else.
Chapter 14 notes go here – on collecting the child
We cannot get to independence by resisting dependence.
If we took our cues from the natural sequence of development, our priorities would be clear. First would be attachment, second would be maturation, and third would be socialisation.
A child who feels known and understood is not likely to be satisfied with the poorer fare that peer orientation offers.
We must work to preserve and retire the relationship so that being with us and depending on us feels right and natural to them. To this end we need to put structures and strictures in place. We should no more entrust our children’s attachments to fate than we should leave to fate our health or our finances.
Structures and restrictions safeguard the sacred.
As our culture erodes, the structures and rituals that protect family life and the sacredness of the parent-child relationship are also gradually eroded.
We need to build structures that restrict the things that would take our children away from us and, at the same time allow us to collect our children.
The fuel of aggression is frustration.
7 principles of natural discipline:
Use connection, not separation, to bring the child into line
when problems occur, work the relationship, not the incident
when things aren’t working for the child, draw out the tears instead of trying to teach a lesson
solicit good intentions instead of demanding good behaviour
draw out the mixed feelings instead of trying to stop impulsive behaviour
when dealing with an impulsive child, try scripting the desired behaviour instead of demanding maturity
when unable to change the child, try changing the Child’s world
Immature beings should not be left to their own devices in social interactions.