“Hold On To Your Kids”–Chapter Five

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?

Many blessings,


6 thoughts on ““Hold On To Your Kids”–Chapter Five

  1. This is great. I know the more attached our children are to us, the more they listen to us and trust our advice. One of the first signs, you probably already know this, is the toddler who follows Mum and Dad around and wants to help. The more a child does this, the better they are attached and the easier (overall) their behaviour is to manage later on. I look at the effort that goes into those first few years as insurance against later problems.

  2. Ive been working with this principle since the birth of my child, and we are very attached, but he still never listens and when I ask his cooperation on something, he does the opposite. And this is in the context of rhythm, modeling, imaginative language, etc. I will not stop parenting my son with attachment values, but it is not producing the kind of cooperation that would make life more peaceful, or at least easier for me. Perhaps it is my sons temperment, he could be called one of those “active alert” children whose sense of movement and curiosity seems stronger than disciple or compliance or even parental approval. Most children I know that are his age are cooperative with their parents most of the time or at least half of the time where as with me it is really the exception.

    • Elizabeth,
      You know what I always say…if the connection is there, then the other piece is boundaries. Some children are more “strong-willed”, for lack of a better term, than others; they seem to have a special destiny and special gifts that may serve them well as adults and the path they must complete, but need very strong boundaries as children. It does not mean you are doing something wrong as a parent, but just that this child needs more than other children.
      Your son and my middle daughter could get together and have a little party about this, 🙂

  3. I love that, Carrie. 🙂 And yes, I am working on those boundaries. I am patient and working with that, learning what it means to have a boundary and teaching that to a strong willed child while with a gentle voice and gentle hands. There is not a lot of modeling for doing that. There is not an easy formula either, so I am trying to figure that out. I am very grateful though that this blog is here in supporting that work. blessings, elizabeth

    • Oh, I so agree with you Elizabeth..I understand that there really is not a lot of model for gentle with boundaries. It is a harder road,but so worth it. I do think watching a Waldorf teacher in class at a school you can often see this, how they handle the truly more challenging children and bring them back in and how they do it and leave the child’s dignity completey intact yet still keep to the boundary. It is interesting to say the least!
      Many blessings and love,

  4. Hi, if you do have an Active-Alert/Choleric (our eldest is one) you’re right…they don’t seem to have the same sense of personal boundaries etc as others, and we’ve found we’ve had to be more on to it with rules etc. (They are meant to be leaders and are only 6% of the poplulation.) One of the reasons we’re not having any more children, is that I know we would lose him if I went into the baby-coma again. I also believe that attachment children seem more wilful because they are so sure of their place in the world.

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