Hold on to your kids

A fascinating post to which a comment pointed me:

The words below are hers, not mine. The indented paragraphs are her  (Jennifer F. from Conversion  Diary) quoting HOLD ON TO YOUR KIDS by Nuefeld and Mate. I have not read the book, I am merely passing along her comments without comment.

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…authors Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate describe this dark new peer culture, and lay out their theory that the problem is "peer orientation": children using peers instead of parents as their compass point for orienting themselves in the world, for discovering their identity, morals and values. The authors write:

As children grow, they have an increasing need to orient: to have a sense of who they are, of what is real, why things happen, what is good, what things mean. To fail to orient is to…be lost psychologically — a state our brains our programmed to do almost anything to avoid. […]

What children fear more than anything, including physical harm, is getting lost. To them, being lost means losing contact with their compass point. Orienting voids, situations where we find nothing or no one to orient by, are absolutely intolerable to the human brain.

The authors go on to explain that various conditions in our culture have combined to leave children with a huge orienting void — that, unfortunately, they fill by orienting themselves to their peers:

In adult-oriented cultures, where the guiding principles and values are those of the more mature generations, kids attach to each other without losing their bearings or rejecting the guidance of their parents. In our society that is no longer the case. Peer bonds have come to replace relationships with adults as children’s primary sources of orientation…Children have become the dominant influence on one another’s development."

This was the part I found particularly interesting. When I read the author’s description of a small town in France that has a traditional, multigenerational, family-oriented culture (the type of culture that always existed in America until the breakdown of lifelong communities over the past 60 years), it became glaringly obvious that our society is nothing like that today, and that that is not a good thing:

[In Rognes, France] children greeted adults and adults greeted children. Socializing involved whole families, not adults with adults and children with children. There was only one village activity at a time, so families were not pulled in several directions…Even at the village fountain, the local hangout, teens mixed with seniors. Festivals and celebrations, of which there were many, were family affairs. The music and dancing brought the generations together instead of separating them…One could not even buy a baguette without first engaging in the appropriate greeting rituals. […]

The attachment customs are the village primary school were equally impressive. Children were personally escorted to school and picked up by their parents or grandparents. The school was gated and the grounds could be entered only by a single entrance. At the gate were the teachers, waiting for their students to be handed over to them. Again, culture dictated that connection be established with appropriate greetings between the adult escorts and the teachers as well as the teachers and the students…When the children were released from school, it was always one class at a time, with the teacher in the lead…Their teachers were their teachers whether on the grounds or in the village market or at the village festival. There weren’t many cracks to fall through.

I don’t think I need to detail the differences between this and our own culture today.