If you’ve ever been around Millennials or their children, you’ll understand that consumer electronics are ubiquitous with them. Unfortunately, the misuse of this technology, coupled with social engineering, has served to incrementally dehumanize them into apathetic drones for the State. Worse for Americans culturally in the long run, is not violently abusive childrearing, necessarily, but negligently ignorant parenting, whereby children are rendered emotionally numb as a response to how their parents treat them as mere annoyances on a daily basis.
The writers of this parenting book argue that many of today’s children are emotionally attaching to their chronological peers rather than their own biological parents. As Drs. Neufeld and Maté say:
“It is the thesis of this book that the disorder affecting the generations of young children and adolescents now heading toward adulthood is rooted in the lost orientation of children toward the nurturing adults in their lives. Far from seeking to establish yet one more medical-psychological disorder here – the last thing today’s bewildered parents need – we are using the word disorder in its most basic sense: a disruption of the natural order of things. For the first time in history young people are turning for instruction, modeling, and guidance not to mothers, fathers, teachers, and other responsible adults but to people whom nature never intended to place in a parenting role – their own peers. They are not manageable, teachable, or maturing because they no longer take their cues from adults. Instead, children are being brought up by immature persons who cannot possibly guide them to maturity. They are being brought up by each other. The term that seems to fit more than any other for this phenomenon is peer orientation. It is peer orientation that has muted our parenting instincts, eroded our natural authority, and caused us to parent not from the heart but from the head – from manuals, the advice of ‘experts,’ and the confused expectations of society.”
Weird as that may sound, that is the foundation upon which Neufeld & Maté’s book rests upon. How is it even conceivable, though, for such a state of affairs to have manifested in the first place? The authors claim that:
“Society has generated economic pressure for both parents to work outside the home when children are very young, but it has made little provision for the satisfaction of children’s needs for emotional nourishment… [a] gaping attachment void has been created by the loss of extended family. Children often lack close relationships with older generations – 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.”
I don’t think it’s as much a matter of “society” doing anything of its own accord, rather, I would attribute this phenomenon to the Federal Reserve Bank. It is they who have devalued their own Federal Reserve Notes by well over 96% since the central bank was founded back in 1913 as per the Federal Reserve Act. If you were to couple this with the systematic deindustrialization of the country alongside the increasing urbanization percentage at ~ 82% of the total population, as greater numbers of people are chasing ever lesser numbers of dollars (in terms of its purchasing power) within the money supply, I think you can begin to see that “society” has very little to do with what has created such “economic pressure for both parents to work outside the home.” Of course, conspicuous consumption simply exacerbates this horrid situation:
“Our society puts a higher value on consumerism than the healthy development of children. For economic reasons, the natural attachments of children to their parents are actively discouraged. As a family physician, my cowriter often found himself in the ludicrous position of having to write letters to employers justifying on ‘health’ grounds a woman’s decision to stay home an extra few months following her baby’s birth so that she could breast-feed – an essential physiological need of the infant, but also a potent natural attachment function in all mammalian species, especially in human beings. It is for economic reasons that parenting does not get the respect it should. That we live where we do rather than where our natural supporting cast – friends, the extended family, our communities of origin – has come about for economic reasons, often beyond the control of individual parents, as, for example, when whole industries are shut down or relocated. It is for economic reasons that we build schools too large for connection to happen and that we have classes too large for children to receive individual attention.”
If you want yet another reason to resist the social engineers, it’s because they are deliberately targeting your families for summary destruction through full spectrum domination, one series of techniques being economic, including also the U.S. federal income tax, which has been admitted by Beardsley Ruml, who back in 1946, said was already obsolete, at least, in terms of being necessary revenue.
Why is peer orientation a threat to family bonding? There are multiple reasons why; the foundational reason seems to emanate from the very environment government schools create:
“A dangerous educational myth has arisen that children learn best from their peers. They do, partially because peers are easier to emulate than adults but mostly because children have become so peer-oriented…[i]n short, what they learn is how to conform and imitate.”
This myth is one that homeschoolers have had to contend with incessantly, because opponents to homeschooling like to dishonestly assert that homeschooled children are failing to socialize “properly.” Besides the irony of this bald faced lie, it would seem that Neufeld & Maté argue that if anything, the completely opposite is true, primarily because of the increased susceptibility government school children have to being emotionally attached to their classmates (in other words, homeschooled children presumably are much more emotionally attached to their parents who cared about them enough to homeschool them in the first place). Then, there is the rampant bullying to contend with:
“Peer orientation breeds both bullies and their victims. We have been dangerously naïve in thinking that by putting children together we would foster egalitarian values and relating. Instead we have paved the way for the formation of new and damaging attachment hierarchies. We are creating a community that sets the stage for a Lord of the Flies situation. Peer orientation is making orphans of our children and turning our schools into day orphanages, so to speak. School is now a place where peer-oriented children are together, relatively free of adult supervision, in the lunchrooms, halls and schoolyards. Because of the powerful attachment reorganization that takes place in the wake of peer orientation, schools have also become bully factories – unwittingly and inadvertently but still tragically.”
Ah, so the truth emerges at last. Many political dissidents understood this at one level or another, but this is a pretty clear way of outlining the inherently Orwellian nature of government schooling, that is, squish all the children together where they have the absolutely lowest possibility of genuinely socializing with many different types of people, and then claim that artificially sticking them together with people just like themselves with increase their ability to socialize! Gee, I wonder when was the last time a homeschooler ever experienced a serious bullying problem? As FakeSagan has said, government schools are just like government prisons, which is why there is systematic bullying. With regard to reckless promiscuity, the authors maintain that:
“One of the ultimate costs of emotional hardening is that sex loses its potency as a bonding agent. The long-term effect is soul-numbing, impairing young people’s capacity to enter into relationships in which true contact and intimacy are possible. Sex eventually becomes a nonvulernable attachment activity. It can even be addictive because it momentarily pacifies attachment hunger without ever fulfilling it. The divorce of sex from vulnerability may have a liberating effect on sexual behavior, but it derives from a dark place of emotional desensitization.”
Oh, great; now for the low, low budget price of sacrificing your child’s soul, they too can experience the wonderfulness of casual sex when they possess neither the maturity nor the temperament for it (at this point, may I suggest polyamory as a viable alternative to so-called “serial monogamy?”). Birth control pills and condoms only handle half of the problem; the other half is emotional, not physical, despite what the “safe sex” advocates may have you believe. Sadly, the authors spend over 200 pages of their book complaining about these and many other problems that result from peer orientation (even one Amazon.com reviewer agreed with me on this), and their analysis about the increased violence, increased alienation, and increased substance abuse is not what I want to focus on in this book review.
So, what does the dynamic duo recommend parents to do, strategically speaking? As they say:
“In short, we need to build routines of collecting our children into our daily lives. In addition to that, it is especially important to reconnect with them after any sort of emotional separation. The sense of connection may be broken, say, after a fight or argument, whether by distancing, misunderstanding, or anger. The context for parenting is lost until we move to restore what psychologist Gershon Kaufman has called ‘the interpersonal bridge.’ And rebuilding that bridge is always our responsibility. We can’t expect children to do it – they are not mature enough to understand the need for it.”
Ok, so good so far (at least, with regards to making goals, that is), but what is their attitude towards discipline? Now, it is important to remember that Drs. Neufeld & Maté take a rather dim view of any notion of “punishment” when it comes to disciplining:
“Punishment creates an adversarial relationship and incurs emotional hardening. Time-outs teach a lesson, ‘tough love’ to bring behavior into line, and ‘1-2-3 Magic’ to make kids comply are tactics that strain the relationship. When we ignore a child in response to a tantrum, isolate the misbehaving child, or withdraw our affection, we undermine a child’s sense of security.”
That’s rather interesting; might it be possible that even peaceful parenting advocates disagree with each other as to what to do? In that case, let’s first take a look at two methods Neufeld & Maté don’t approve of. First up, is grounding:
“Grounding continues to be a popular discipline for young adolescents when some rule has been broken or violation has occurred. It’s a question of how we use it – as punishment or as an opportunity…grounding works best with those who need it least and is least effective with those who need it most. But under any circumstances, grounding, if we are to employ it at all, works best if parents seize it as an opportunity to reestablish the relationship with their child. And that means taking all punitive tone and emotion out of the interaction.”
Ha! For those friends of mine during my Boy Scout days who were frequently grounded, the dynamic duo here would have had a serious problem with their parents! Next up are the weakly sounding time-outs:
“Separation has always been the trump card in parenting. Today it has been elevated to a fad in the guise of time-out’s. Stripped of euphemistic labels, these tools of behavior modification are recycled forms of shunning – isolation, ignoring, cold shoulder, the withholding of affection…[t]he withdrawal of closeness (or threatening its loss) is such an effective means of behavior control because it triggers the child’s worst fear – that of being abandoned…[t]he point for parents to understand is that these manifestations do not represent genuine understanding or contrition, only the anxiety of the child trying to reestablish the relationship with the parent. It is naïve to think that by such methods we are teaching our children a lesson or making them consider the error of their ways.”
Whoa, that is a pretty clear stance they’re taking on that method, but I have to ask, doesn’t that contradict what Dr. Murray Straus said in his book? If Neufeld & Maté are correct, then why would Straus recommend something to his readers that is arguably just as bad, if not worse, than spanking itself? Besides the fact that even the scientific community has called the efficacy of time-outs into question, I wonder whether I have stumbled onto something significant here, or whether its one of those useless “debates” that are incessant ongoing because there is currently no good answer? I suspect it may have either to do with their differing political orientations (Straus advocates government intervention, whereas Neufeld & Maté advocate that parents need to take responsibility for their own children), or quite possibly, that neither camp knows exactly what the hell they are doing.
Having perused what not to do, what should parents do in order to “collect their children?” As Neufeld & Maté describe it:
“The first step in creating this kind of closeness is to draw the child out. Although many children need an invitation, asking them what they think and feel seldom works. Sometimes the trick is in finding the right kind of structure: regular outings together, shared tasks, walking the dog. With my mother, it was when we were washing the dishes or picking blueberries together that I would share the thoughts and feelings that hardly ever came out otherwise. The closeness I felt at those times was very special indeed and went a long way to create an enduring connection.”
I remember doing similar things with my mother; have things gotten so bad here on this continent that children nowadays commonly don’t even have that to fall back on? As they elaborate:
“The sit-down family meal has become an endangered event. When it exists, it is more likely to be a perfunctory activity for the purpose of fueling up. There are places to go, work to be done, sports to be played, computers to sit at, stuff to buy, movies to take in, television to be watched. Eating is what one does to prepare for what comes next. Rarely do these other activities enable us to collect our children. Precisely now, when we need the family sit-down meal more than ever before, we’re likely to eat on our own and allow our children to do the same. Of course, mealtimes that are tense, that end up in fights or set the stage for arguments about manners or who should clear the table will not serve a collecting function. Parents need to use meals to get into their children’s space in a friendly way.”
That’s bullshit, at least when I was growing up. I grew up with family dinners, which I greatly disliked for awhile because of dad’s foul mood swings, but overall, they weren’t too bad. Hell, I still remember mom reading us her political newsletters at the table, and those were fun (at least, for me, anyway). Earlier in the book, the authors mentioned that peer-oriented children are scared to death of vulnerability, and since they are so highly aggressive because they don’t know how to diffuse their frustration, parents need to help them come to terms with their frustrations:
“The first part of this dance of adaptation is to represent to the child a ‘wall of futility’ …[t]he second part of the adaptation dance is to come alongside the child’s experience of frustration and to provide comfort. Once the wall of futility has been established – in a way that is firm without being harsh – it is time to help the child find the tears beneath the frustration. The agenda should not be to teach a lesson but to move frustration to sadness.”
Good luck with that one; sounds more like art than science to me. Although the authors go on to give redundantly long descriptions about the techniques of calmly explaining to a child what he did wrong, scripting their behavior by providing behavioral cues, and establishing a ritualistic structure for their daily routine, I can’t help but think they are suggesting what mom did most of the time with me and my siblings; of course, we were spanked (some more than others), but most of my childhood encompassed these techniques, at worst sometimes being emotionally manipulative, but seldom physically punitive, as is the case with corporal punishment; despite this, I will infer that mom would still not be considered a “peaceful parent” by either Neufeld or Straus because spanking was still on the table for her. Finally, the last technique up for consideration is that of forming what they call an attachment village:
“The attachment village was a place of adult orientation where culture and values were passed on vertically from one generation to the next and in which, for better or worse, children followed the lead of grown-ups. For many of us, that attachment village no longer exists. The social and economic underpinnings that used to support traditional cultures have vanished. Gone are the cohesive communities, where extended families lived in close proximity, where children grew up among mentoring adults who did their work close to home, where cultural activities brought together generations. Most of us share the task of raising our children with adults neither we nor our children have previously met. The majority of children in North America leave their homes almost every day to go to places where adults with whom they have no attachment connection assume responsibility for them…[i]f we wish to reclaim our children from peer orientation or prevent them from becoming peer-oriented, we have only one other option: to re-create functional villages of attachment within which to raise our child.”
It takes a village to raise a child, doesn’t it? Maybe if you’re anarcho-syndicalist or authoritarian statist, but pretty much not for most of everybody else, from what I understand. Sure, extended family is important, but there is such a thing as overkill. Again, if there wasn’t such a need for geographic mobility because of economic reasons, with the ridiculous high urbanization percentage along with it, then Americans could easily reestablish their local communities in a small town atmosphere, once the physical infrastructure has been altered to accommodate that new reality of life.
Interestingly, Dr. Neufeld relates to us his personal struggles with his own children. As he says:
“I, too, buried my head in the sand until my own children abruptly disrupted my denial. I had never expected to lose my kids to their peers. To my dismay, I noticed that on reaching adolescence both my older daughters began to orbit around their friends, following their lead, imitating their language, internalizing their values. It became more and more difficult to bring them into line. Everything I did to impose my wishes and expectations only made things worse. It’s as if the parental influence my wife and I had taken for granted had all of a sudden evaporated. Sharing our children is one thing, being replaced is quite another. I thought my children were immune: they showed no interest in gang or delinquency, were brought up in the context of relative stability with an extended family that dearly loved them, lived in a solid family-oriented community, and had not had their childhood disrupted by a major world war…[y]et when I started putting the pieces together, I found that what was happening with my children was more typical than exceptional.”
Alright, so he admits he lost touch with his own flesh and blood. The question then becomes, was he able to remedy it, and if so, how? He describes that he was able to woo his way back into the good graces of his daughters Tasha and Tamara on separate outdoorsy vacations by walking and canoeing with the former at a seaside cottage, while backpacking and fishing with the latter. When his third daughter, Bria, wanted to host a party for her friends, Dr. Neufeld details that:
“When we presented our plan to be active and visible hosts, Bria’s first reaction was to be mortified! She doubted it would ever work. She feared that none of her friends would come and that if they did would never talk to her again. Her fears were unfounded. I certainly was not able to make inroads with everyone, but I doubt the ones I failed with would ever have been inclined to show up anyway. The kids it worked out with were much more likely to seek the kind of relationship with our daughter that would not compete with us.”
A-ha! So, Dr. Neufeld’s insistence on personally hosting the party by barbecuing the food and making small talk with Bria’s friends actually served as an effective vetting mechanism to weed all out the undesirables and assorted malcontents who would be inclined to lead Bria astray by eventually putting her at odds with her parents. Following the successful outcome of this party, Dr. Neufeld also described this one:
“Village building worked better than I ever could have thought possible. The icing on the cake was Millennium New Year’s Eve. Before the event, each one of us in the family had shared our fantasies about what we would like to happen on this special evening and what we wanted it to mean. Bria’s fantasy was to be together with not only her best friends but her best friends’ families, including their guests. We invited them all under one roof and spent the evening enjoying one another’s company. We toasted the young women who inspired us to create a village from the bottom up, creating connections that otherwise would never have existed. The event was testimony to the fact that when peers and parents don’t compete, our children can have both.”
While I am skeptical about the ability of Bria and one of her friends inspiring anyone “to create a village from the bottom up,” I will say that holidays provide a convenient social excuse to meet perfect strangers by arriving and making nice-nice, all the while eating as much food and downing as much alcohol you can politely get away with. Ironically, the dynamic duo also had this to say:
“We need strength to withstand the desperate pleadings of a peer-oriented child, to endure the inevitable upset and the storm of protest. Above all, we need faith in ourselves as our child’s best bet. It helps to have some conceptual support for your own parental intuition – and this book is meant to provide that – but it still requires courage to go against the flow. We do not recommend that parents accept our suggestions until they have the confidence, the patience, and the warmth to follow through with them. One must not parent a child from a book – not even this one!”
Despite explaining in quite a bit of detail how to calmly explain a situation to your child, how to script their behavior, how to establish a ritualistic structure for them to follow, as well as how to form “attachment villages” with a supporting cast who accept your passing of the baton to them while you defuse any potential competition (as what happened with Bria in the first described party), it might as well be all for naught because the authors both say that the reader must not parent from any book. Well, that’s just fuckin’ great, isn’t it? With sophisticated advice like that, I will just go ahead and assume that the spanking will continue unabated, despite their intention to curb it…wait a minute, I don’t remember either Neufeld or Maté mentioning spanking at all! Isn’t that a bit queer? At least deMause mentioned it in passing in his book regarding historical child abuse, but hey, I’m just a clueless reader to them, aren’t I?
Drs. Neufeld & Maté’s Hold Onto Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers is an enigma wrapped inside of a pretzel. Aside from a few choice methods that they could have easily fit within the space of say, five pages, Neufeld & Maté instead redundantly repeat themselves so much that I suspect they were advised to by the publisher, lest they lack sufficient page space in order to cover publishing costs. Because of this, as well as the tone, I am left to conclude that the polemics spouted by them are evocative of Douglas Rushkoff (albeit these two at least suggest something halfway plausible, to be fair). At least Dr. Straus provided his readers with actual statistics, for whatever they’re worth, instead of a rambling diatribe against other children. Most importantly, though, is that I fear the “peaceful parenting” advocates are inadvertently perpetuating the victim mentality in their readership by stressing the horrors of corporal punishment or artificial cultural dynamics rather than outlining a strategy or two describing how certain tactics should be used to accomplish a specific goal, namely, that of a cohesive family.