Gabor Mate has been raising the alarm for over a decade. Children are not attaching to their parents like they have done for most of human civilization. Instead, they are attaching to peers, losing the safe acceptance and influence of adults.
His lecture to parents in 2011 rings even more true now as kids continue to be raised by their peers, social media, and YouTube and not their parents or other adults.
Hold on to your Kids Notes
- The spread of peer attachment corresponds in part with the concept of youth culture that is a reasonably new phenomenon of the past 70-80 years. This looks like drastic, rebellious, culturally different generations that no longer turn to their parents to learn the culture passed down.
- 6 methods of attachment
- Senses. By smell, sight, sound, or touch, a yearning for physical proximity begins as an infant and continues throughout life.
- Sameness. Children often attempt to imitate or emulate the people they have attached to, often taking on many similar speech patterns from parents initially, and then peers, for example. Sameness also manifests in attaching through identification, or merging your identity with the person or hero or idea or group you are attached to.
- Belonging and Loyalty. Toddlers lay claim to their teddy bear, their mommy, their daddy. Teenagers lay claim to who is whose best friend. Belonging and loyalty follow attraction, thus peer attached kids are loyal to each other, not to parents or ideals.
- Significance. Feeling we matter and are needed by our special person. Toddlers aim to please and win approval and earn the happy face of who we are attached to. Peer oriented kids call “nice” kids who accept and include them, even if the same kid is mean in other situations.
- Feeling. Warm, loving, affectionate feelings. Emotion is always involved with attachement, but preschoolers especially feel deeply and vulnerable. A child that feels emotional intimacy, love, with a parent can last much longer periods of physical separation while being content remembering the image of the loving parent. When love is perceived to be scorned or rejected, kids revert to less risky more direct forms of attachement (ie. senses). “Emotional intimacy is much less common among peer-oriented kids” (38).
- Being Known. To feel close to someone is to be known by them. Closeness often is defined by the secrets shared and kept. Parent oriented kids often don’t keep secrets from their parents because of the resulting lack of closeness. Peer oriented often have a best friend that they keep no secrets. Being vulnerable opens one to rejection, a risk not worth taking according to many people. Without being vulnerable, many miss out on attachement prompted by being known. Peer oriented kids often don’t understand why parent oriented kids tell their parents so much.
- Peer oriented kids learn to rely on more direct forms of attachment like senses and sameness which stunts their ability to attach as adults using all 6 methods.