“What keeps parents in the game is attachment. Commitment and values can go a long way but if it was only that, parenting would be sheer work. If it wasn’t for attachment, many parents would not be able to stomach the changing of diapers, forgive the interrupted sleep, put up with the noise and the crying, carry out all the tasks that go unappreciated.”
The authors use this chapter to point out that attachment supports parenting in seven ways:
1. It arranges the parent/child hierarchically – the child is dependent on the parent; children look up to their parents, they turn to their parents for answers, they defer to them.
2. It makes parents more tolerant of behavior –“When our children express by actions or words a desire to attach to us, it makes them sweeter and easier to take.”
3. It causes the child to pay attention to us. “The stronger the attachment is, the easier it is to secure the child’s attention.”
4. It keeps the child close to the parent. “If all goes well, the drive for physical proximity with the parent gradually evolves into a need for emotional connection and contact.”
5. It makes the parents a model. “It is attachment that makes a child want to be like another person, to take on another’s characteristics.”
6. It causes the parent to be the “primary cue-giver.” “Until a child becomes capable of self-direction and of following cues from within, he or she needs someone to show the way.”
7. It makes the child want to be good for the parent.
With each of these ways that attachment can support parenting, the authors go through and show how these attachments work when a child attaches to peers instead of parents, what that looks like, and what that means for the parent-child relationship.
One interesting quote that may interest many of you, especially those of you with smaller and grades-age children, was this one: “Children do not internalize values- make them their own-until adolescence.”
I think this quote shows us, and encourages us to keep in the game of parenting past the age when children are “little.” When I repeatedly say on this blog that children in that second seven-year cycle are still “little”, I mean it. Seven, eight and nine year olds still need protection. Ten through thirteen year olds still need the support of parents to guide them.
The authors end the chapter with a final thought regarding a child’s desire to be “good” for a parent and this is that the parent must be trustworthy. A parent cannot abuse this desire that the child has to work with the parent. They also caution against using rewards and punishments: “External motivators for behavior such as rewards and punishments may destroy the precious internal motivation to be good, making leverage by artificial means necessary by default.”
Another interesting chapter; what did you all think about it?