We may not be responsible for the way the world creates our mind, but we can learn to take responsibility for the mind with which we create our world

Childhood Development & Parenting

The essential condition for healthy development is the child’s relationship with nurturing adults. Hold On to Your Kids, co-authored with the eminent developmental psychologist Dr. Gordon Neufeld, provides insight into the environmental factors necessary for healthy child development, how these conditions are increasingly under threat in today’s society, and how parents and teachers can maintain their leading position in face of the multiple challenges posed by modern culture.

Hold On To Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers, examines parenting from the perspective of attachment theory to illuminate the crucial role parents must play in the upbringing of their children. This book was co-authored by Dr. Gordon Neufeld, a developmental and clinical psychologist.

*For further support on this topic, please visit the website of Gordon Neufeld, which has plenty more excellent information about attachment-focused parenting, his area of expertise.

Q. Are you and your co-author Gordon Neufeld saying that kids shouldn’t have friends their own age?

A. Of course not. Peer relationships are part of natural human socialization. What’s developmentally unnatural, we claim, is that peer relationships have become the primary relationships in childrens’ lives – the relationships they care most about, have the highest emotional stake in, and the primary guiding light for their behaviours, culture, norms, and so on. This only seems “normal” to us in our society because we’ve lost touch with how nature meant things to be, which is for kids’ primary, orienting relationships to be with adults. Within the context of stable, secure attachments with responsible adult caregivers, peer socialization can happen in a safe and natural way.

Q. Haven’t so-called “peer problems” like bullying been around since the dawn of time?

A. Yes, they have. As long as humans have existed, we’ve been exploiting each other’s vulnerabilities to gain dominance. And certainly, children have not been exempt from that tendency. What’s different now is that the preponderance seems to have increased significantly – everywhere you turn, in virtually every school system, it’s now considered an epidemic on the rise. It’s possible that we’ve become more sensitized to it, but that can’t on its own account for the dramatic rise in indicence of late.

What’s also different is that kids used to look upon bullies as outsiders and misfits, whereas nowadays bullying behaviour is often a sign of social power and status. You find entire groups of “popular” kids picking on the unpopular ones – the “strong” many persecuting the weak “few” – and this is considered normal. Technology and social media, which are very much geared and marketed toward strengthening the peer culture, give kids an additional power to do each other significant emotional harm. We’ve never seen such levels of childhood and teen violence and suicide as we do in today’s Western society, particularly in North America.

All of this results, we argue, from the peer culture taking precedence over safe, orienting attachments with adults. And all of the anti-bullying “education” programs in the world won’t make a difference unless this fundamental, and disastrous, phenomenon is faced and dealt with.