“Rise Up and walk”
July 20 2022
I am reading this book called “Hold on to your child”, and I am finding that it makes a number of great points, regarding ways children can mistakenly choose peers as influencers, instead of parents. It makes the interesting observation based on lots of data, that children do not want to choose peers as influencers, but how they do so, when they do not feel attached to their parents.
The book talks about how, historically, parents are the primary influencers of their children and how, when guided by a strong attachment to the parents AS the primary influencers, children are properly directed, able to make good choices, and able to mature in a healthy manner. The book takes care to note that though it is important for children to have friends, it is MORE important for children to have parents as their primary attachment, and that friends cannot replace this attachment.
It discusses in various chapters how children, left in daycare, and exposed to phones, and social media, or games, can feel rejected or ignored by their primary caregivers, their parents, and can develop peer attachments to replace the parent attachment in order to try to get their needs met. When this happens, the book says that parents are then powerless to influence, and not only that, peer attachments do not help children become more independent, they instead make them more vulnerable.
This is because peers are much less likely to defend each other against bullies like parents do, and are much more likely to “play favorites”, pit friends against each other, and make poor choices. Because “attachment” is what gives parents power to be influencers with their own children, parents need to make SURE that they are maintaining that attachment and that it is not being replaced by friends or “peers”. The book offers a multitude of ways to do this which are very helpful, including but not limited to, problem solving together, active listening, compassion, and change of environment.
The book clearly explains how important it is for children to develop SOME kind of attachment, as it promotes proper development, so if parents do not feel available to children, and they fail to maintain that attachment relationship with their children, these children will likely turn to their peers for attachment, and then the peers will be their primary influencers. Peers however are no substitute for parents.
The book is quick to point out, that parents at this point, mistakenly believe that children who are “peer attached”, start exhibiting behavior that they call being “bad” or argumentative or “willful”. It explains that children who are not attached to parents are not being bad, but are just showing by their behavior, their LACK of attachment. The book compares children to little miniatures of married adults, who, when they fail to feel an attachment to their marriage partner, will often develop an attachment to someone else, and this is called an affair. In the same way, children have emotional “affairs” with other children when they lose their attachment with their parents.
Just like a married person is interested in what their spouse says WHEN they are “attached” to their spouse, a child, likewise, is interested in what their parents say and want when they are “attached” to their parents. Both marriage and parental attachments are grounded in a feeling of love and acceptance by the other parties.
A broken parental attachment, just like a broken marriage attachment, according to the book, which leads children to have multiple “emotional affairs” with their peers, also leads to problems because other children are not capable of guiding and leading each other because they are at the same level of maturity.
Children guided by other children, according to this book, struggle more to achieve independence and are the most easily hurt, and most susceptible to abuse and pain because immature children attached primarily to other immature children, (unlike children primarily attached to their parents), do not have a developed and formal value systems to help them make the best choices.
The problem, aptly addressed in this book, is that not only are these important and necessary BENEFICIAL attachment to parents being minimized, they are also being devalued and derailed, because society and culture, are reducing the influence of parents, and replacing it with peer influence in many areas like government, social media, day care, and schools. These “systems” which prioritize everything BUT the parents when they have access to our children, are shifting to encourage “peers” as primary attachments over parents.
The book accurately points out, however, that when children are attached to peers, instead of parents, they have no direction or basis for making sound decisions, because children were never meant to parent each other. Parents, not peers, are always most interested in the successful maturation of their own children, and are highly motivated to ensure that children have what they need, so parents are taught how to do a better job of keeping that parental attachment strong, and it does not involve “preventing” children from having their own friends or other sources of leadership and guidance from teachers or pastors or extended family. It instead, focus on being more adept and intuitive parenting that comes from a basis of calm love.
The book is about “reclaiming” our children, by ensuring that their
attachment” to us as parents, is facilitated early and throughout life, and how to do this when our culture and society tends to shift children away from parental influence and into peer influence. There are many useful tips on how to accomplish this…. and as I read this book, I started to understand, how many of my own bad decisions were made when my “attachments” to those “influencers” in my life were weak or damaged.
Going further with this line of thought, it seemed to lead to the depressing conclusion that this problem of weak or broken attachments can even become a cyclical or multi-generational problem, because how can an adult who has damaged “attachments’ facilitate a healthy attachment with their own child?
The book tells of ways to “reclaim” children, but for those whose children are now adults, still with dysfunctional “peer attachments” instead of positive “parental attachments”, this can feel emotionally overwhelming, and down right impossible.
But this is where the book, I feel, leaves out an important, and probably THE most HELPFUL, positive attachment available to children everywhere. That attachment is the father we call God. Jesus, the master of relationships, called on God his heavenly father all the time. He had human parents, but what sustained him in his times of dire trouble or need, was that relationship with God.
Growing up, children can be taught to use church as a community and within that community we see that most churches still strongly support the roles of parents as they teach children how to have a relationship with God. And in church, God, is called our heavenly “father”, not just as a figure of speech, but because mankind has learned that we, as a society, are happiest and best directed and most successful when we have strong “attachment” to our “father” God as well as our human parents. This attachment can be strong, even when parental attachments might seem weak or seem to fail, and this sustaining grace, always available, is comforting to parents and children alike.
The book talks about how children must feel love from their parents to have strong parental attachments. Children, the book says, as infants, literally cling to their parents, demanding to be held, and loved. But as they grow older it can be harder to maintain “attachments” with children. However, it is during difficult times, that churches are most capable of successfully supporting their parents and facilitating the parental attachment, that children need to have. I believe that, importantly, a lateral attachment to God as father, is also supported in that process. It is a symbiotic relationship.
God, as a father who is only love, who is forgiving, and forever available to children, is the perfect attachment for children, as a role model for the perfect parental attachment, giving us hope and comfort during our weakest moments.
Human parents are fallible and can unwittingly distance themselves from their children and can make mistakes, but children, taught about the beauty and acceptance of God, as their heavenly father, who sees them always as perfect and pure, can form a healthy attachment to God, who is Spirit, who can ALWAYS be there for them. This attachment will sustain them during times of pain, and will also give them direction and allow them to withstand temptations from peers or culture or social media, that lead them down destructive paths.
For those who feel overwhelmed, who have struggled with marital relationships, or parent/child relationships, understanding a forgiving and nurturing God, is critical in establishing peace of mind, harmony and resiliency in relationships. Understanding God freely gives us love and direction, helps us to realize that these lost attachments can be restored, and God is the “thread” linking and attaching humanity to each other.
All is not lost if a child or a spouse seems distant, when we know they still have access to an attachment with a God relationship, even if they claim to “not believe”.
And good God, is still speaking to them, and is able to give them constant direction, and can also give them constant community, within in the church setting, or even when they are alone, so they can be successful when they go out into the world. This awareness of God, takes all of the pressure out of worrisome “parental attachments” that are weak or damaged, and gives children and adults guidance and support.
It is important to establish, that even when parents cannot “parent” any more and even if parental attachments have been severely damaged, God is always available and is always secure and established. God is a constant.
Psychologists comments in this book, emphasize the need for “attachment”, and I think it simply boils down to a need for “love”. Children AND parents, really just need lots of love. God as our primary father example, gives us wonderful direction and shows us by example how to love.
I think it is important to understand that Jesus called God “father”, because God does not “birth” children, and likewise fathers do not birth children. God creates them and gifts them to parents. I also think it is important to understand how a woman, choosing to abort the very baby she is carrying, is demonstrating a complete vacancy of any “attachment” to children, but at any point, she can be healed of that broken situation.
God who is “father” tells us to “choose life”. The father can give “love” and receive “love” and provide secure attachments for children. In my opinion, a society that promotes the ultimate rejection of children, with abortion, cannot possibly hope to support parents, families and promote any positive “attachments” to children.
Societies, such as the Nazi’s, which have successfully been able to remove children from families and “give” them to “classrooms”, “governments”, or “the state”, have seen shockingly detrimental results. Children devoid of parental bonds, and devoid of God, are bullied, aimless, suicidal, depressed and confused.
Historically we have examples of the self destruction that Godless and parent-less societies lead to, and we must recognize how society and peers are constantly shifting to try to minimize the roles of parents. It is also important and reassuring to realize that, in spite of all this cultural and societal “shifting”, the bible has still endured, and continues to provide direction and focus , even now.
I use the bible every day, in order to learn what that direction is, picking random bible verses each day to lead me and comfort me. I have found tremendous healing in doing this, not just in my personal relationships but in the entire world.
I enjoyed reading this book, and my only comment to improve this content, would be to encourage parents to “choose God” as an important “parental attachment” for your children, in addition to your own attachment to them, because this spiritual attachment will endure, sustain and support your children, even when humanly, you perhaps cannot.
My randomly chosen bible verse for today is the following…
“Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered?”
I believe the bible is telling us to be on guard against the self serving teachings of the government and the state, and social media and news media, as God is who will supply us with all we need. When we follow God, we will have our needs met, our children’s needs met, and our societies needs met. That is what I think.
We can rejoice and take comfort in knowing that God is supporting us in our role as parents, forgiving our mistakes, and just loving us. REJOICE, rise up and WALK. We can BE the receptive parent, or the receptive child we were meant to be, no matter what seems to be the problem. God hears us, and wants that bond with us.