This is the third in a series on Thursdays summarizing the work of Dr. Gordon Neufeld in his Power to Parent DVD course. This one is about harnessing the power of attachment, and I already wrote about collecting before we direct but I will try to fill in some of the additional information to create a deeper context for the material. If you are looking for Power to Parent One and Power to Parent Two, click on the links to have a read before you continue.
He began by talking about context, and defined it as "weaving together", explaining that context is 95% of the parenting issue. If the context is right, it becomes much easier to parent our children. There is a courtship dance that exists between people, and if we don't have a working connection, we have no basis for relationship.
There are four steps for collecting a child, and he talked about how we do these steps unconsciously with infants, and then seem to forget how important they are with toddlers, preschoolers, children and teens. Here are the steps to collect a child:
1. Get in your child's face (or space) in a friendly way, collecting the eyes, a smile and a nod.
2. Provide a 'touch of proximity' for your child to hold on to (he likened this to a baby holding the adult finger that is placed in their palm - if they aren't ready to connect, they will ignore the offered touch).
3. Invite your child to depend upon you.
4. Act as your child's compass point.
The primary role of attachment is to facilitate dependence. In our culture, we are so preoccupied with independence that we forget we must invite our children to depend on us. When independence is forced too early, children are clingy, but the desire for true independence, when instigated by the child, is the fruit that comes from being allowed to feel dependent first.
Collecting before you give orders is the most significant step in the relationship. This warms the child up. If you haven't collected your child and received a smile and a nod and some friendly interaction, refrain from giving direct orders, as they will almost certainly backfire. After any separation (sleep, school, dayhome, being at a friend's house) be sure to collect your child before moving further into any activity. Relationship must be restored and re-connected after any absence.
We need to back out of incidents and into the relationship. All of our natural parenting power and influence comes from the relationship, not from behaviour and consequences. We don't have to fix the problem right away. It's much safer and better to back away from the issue, and fix it calmly in the context of the relationship, at a later point when the emotions aren't running so high. It's imperative to always convey that the relationship can handle the weight of the incident.
We are the answer for our child. We are their best bet for survival, and they need to need us. Depending is much more vulnerable than dominating. We must seize the lead as parents, and give them a bigger hug than they give us, and more attention than they seem to need, and avoid force and leverage at all costs. We can create scenarios where our child must depend upon us.
As parents, we are models, leaders, places of refuge, authorities, and our child's truest compass point. We need to become that person to our child that only their attachment to us can create. If we are connected and in a healthy context of relationship with our child, nothing and no one can take them away from our sphere of influence. We don't have to be afraid of losing them, if we are the most valuable relationship they have, but it's up to us to create and hold the attachment, no matter what may come against it.