Hold On To Your Kids

Hold on to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers

By: Gordon Neufeld


After attending the two workshops which I previously wrote about in my blog, I decided to read Neufeld’s book.

I could sit here and write paragraphs on why student/teacher relationship is important. I could sit here and write on why students need to feel that sense of attachment in order to flourish, but I did that enough in my last two blog posts. In this blog post I am going to simply type out my favourite words from Neufeld’s book, so you as the reader can create your own sense of curiosity.

Quote #1: 

“The primary culprit is assumed to be peer rejection: shunning, exclusion, shaming, taunting, mocking, bullying. The conclusion reached by some experts is that peer acceptance is absolutely necessary for a child’s emotional health and well-being, and that there is nothing worse than not being liked by peers. It is assumed that peer rejection is an automatic sentence to lifelong self-doubt. Many parents today live in fear of their children’s not having friends, not being esteemed by their peers.

This way of thinking fails to consider two fundamental questions: What renders a child so vulnerable in the first place? And why is this vulnerability increasing? It is absolutely true that children snub, ignore, shun, shame, taunt, and mock. Children have always done these things when not sufficiently supervised by the adults in charge. But it is attachment, not the insensitive behavior or language of peers, that creates vulnerability. The current focus on the impact of peer rejection and peer acceptance has completely overlooked the role of attachment.

If the child is attached primarily to the parents, it is parental acceptance that is vital to emotional health and well-being, and not being liked by parents is the devastating blow to self-esteem. The capacity of children to be inhumane has probably not changed, but, as research shows, the wounding of our children by one another is increasing. If many kids are damaged these days by the insensitivity of their peers, it is not necessarily because children today are more cruel than in the past, but because peer orientation has made them more susceptible to one anothers taunts and emotional assaults.”  Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers

Quote #2:

“Children do not experience our intentions, no matter how heartfelt. They experience what we manifest in tone and behavior.” Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers

Quote #3:

When a child becomes so attached to her peers that she would rather be with them and be like them, those peers, whether singly or as a group, become that child’s working compass point. It will be her peers with whom she will seek closeness. She will look to her peers for cues on how to act, what to wear, how to look, what to say, and what to do. Her peers will become the arbiters of what is good, what is happening, what is important, and even of how she defines herself.” Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers

Quote #4:

“After day care and kindergarten, our children enter school. They will now live most of each day in the company of peers, in an environment where adults have less and less primacy. If there were a deliberate intention to create peer orientation, schools as currently run would surely be our best instrument.
Assigned to large classes with overwhelmed teachers in charge, children find connection with one another. Rules and regulations tend to keep them out of the classroom before classes begin, ensuring that they are on their own without much adult contact.

They spend recess and lunchtime in one another’s company. Teacher training completely ignores attachment; thus educators learn about teaching subjects but not about the essential importance of connected relationships to the learning process of young human beings. Unlike a few decades ago, today’s teachers do not mingle with their students in the halls or on the playground and are discouraged from interacting with them in a more personal manner. In contrast to more traditional societies, the vast majority of students in North America do not go home to spend lunchtime with their parents.

In today’s society, attachment voids abound. A gaping attachment void has been created by the loss of the extended family. Children often lack close relationships with older generations — the people who, for much of human history, were often better able than parents themselves to offer the unconditional loving acceptance that is the bedrock of emotional security. The reassuring, consistent presence of grandparents and aunts and uncles, the protective embrace of the multigenerational family, is something few children nowadays are able to enjoy.

Owing to geographic dislocations and frequent moves, and to the increasing peer orientation of adults themselves, today’s children are much less likely to enjoy the company of elders committed to their welfare and development. That lack goes beyond the family and characterizes virtually all social relationships. Generally missing are attachments with adults who assume some responsibility for the child.

One example of an endangered species is the family physician, a person who knew generations of a family and who was a stable and emotionally present figure in its members’ lives, whether in times of crisis or times of celebration. The faceless and inconstantly available doctor at the walk-in clinic is hardly a substitute. In the same way, the neighborhood shopkeeper, tradesman, and artisan have long been replaced by generic businesses with no local ties and no personal connections with the communities in which they function.” Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers

What I hope for you to get out of this blog post is interest. Interest into who Gordon Neufeld is and what he does. Neufeld Institute is a resource I have linked here for you to inquiry about, and to explore the courses he offers in Vancouver, BC and through online programs.

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4 thoughts on “Hold On To Your Kids

  1. Wow what an awesome blog! I have seen Gordon Neufeld too. He is very inspiring, has useful and practical ideas to support children. How do you implement his strategies in your classroom? What do you think our next steps are as a society?

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    1. Thanks Katherine! If you take a quick look at my inquiry project handout you’ll see strategies you could use in the classroom and you’ll see strategies to use at home! As a society I believe our next step is to educate those who aren’t familiar with the concept. With exposure comes understanding and a passion for change! My blog is the first step to creating this awareness.

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  2. What a great post. I totally agree with what Neufeld is getting at here. I wonder about how he tries to combat this in a classroom?

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    1. I like how Neufeld uses the 3 mode environment model for students: work, rest, and play. Educators can help build a safe place for students to express their emotions. As educators we can also designate a time in the day where our students can just their brains off and just rest because a lot of students don’t get this reality and home. It is crucial for students to rest because without work, rest, and play our students aren’t coming to class with a sense of curiosity and they aren’t coming with the right mindset to learn.

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