Parents Must Reclaim the Central Role If Growing Crisis Among Children Is to End: Maté and Neufeld


From Irish Examiner: “Children are in crisis and it’s because — instead of orbiting around their parents and other responsible adults as they are meant to do — they are more and more orbiting around each other.

. . . This is how Dr Gabor Maté and Dr Gordon Neufeld, authors of Hold on to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers, diagnose the breakdown in the relationship between many parents and their children today.

For a child to be open to being parented by an adult — rather than taking his/her cue from an immature peer who can’t possibly guide them to maturity — they must be actively attached to the adult, wanting closeness and contact with that adult, say Maté, a physician who works with patients challenged by drug addiction and mental illness, and Neufeld, a psychologist with a reputation for penetrating to the heart of complex parenting.

‘Culture, until recently, was always handed down vertically from generation to generation. [Now] instead of being passed down vertically, it’s being transmitted horizontally within the younger generation,’ they observe.

Yet, children of any mammalian species look to the adult to guide them — they defer to their parents, says Maté, speaking to Feelgood.

‘Watch the mother bear with her cubs. They follow her wherever she goes. The connection is one of leadership, not exploitation — it follows from the fact that the parent is more informed, powerful and wiser and is charged with the responsibility of caring for the children.’

But, says Maté, this hierarchy is not something to be taken for granted — it’s present if there’s an attached adult-child relationship.

So what has happened to erode this healthy attachment?”

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