Attachment is a critical need we human beings have. After all, we are mammals, and we do not detach quickly at birth and move into situations of survival like reptiles. We have an important need to express who we are and to fill our biological needs. Early in our education, we are faced with disapproval to the point that we must choose between being accepted and belonging, or to act according to our deep creative and spiritual needs or inalienable passions with unbridle freedom. Most of us chose safety and acceptance.
From ancient times, cultures provided extended family, support, traditions, and a clear sense of identity that was passed on with our mother’s milk. In modern and post-modern times, the cellular family has become increasingly under a great deal of stress. With the advent of technology and Disaster Capitalism, parents have less and less time to spend with their children as wealth redistribution has decisively moved upwards to the top 1% of the population. The cost of daycare exploded in the U.S., forcing many parents to stay home and survive on one income to care for infants.
Unconsciously, stressed-out parents may pass on the expectation that it is not OK to be authentic. Parents are just too concerned with making ends meet and all the financial issues that plague couples nowadays. This creates a crisis of attachment with children because often their unexpressed needs and fears are not dealt with or addressed by the parents. Authenticity is important, because being real leads us to the proper self-development of our most intrinsic values. We as parents must accept the reality that each of us are born with our own unique consciousness. Our task is to nurture the unique set of intrinsic talents our children are equipped with and assist in the development of those talents.
Our essence has a unique signature and encoding that assigns us our role in this society. The unfolding of our personalities could occur freely to us by the process of trust and love attachment with our progenitors and community. The continuation of this sacred trust will allow for the flower of authenticity to flourish firmly, rooted in unconditional love and compassion. Instead, the opposite is happening in our post-modern society. Our values have not yet evolved to deal with the sophistication of the digital age, mass consumption, and globalization. We continue with models that discourage cooperation, uniqueness, and scientific research. The process of socialization of our modern cultures often becomes an impediment to the proper unfolding of the authentic self. We disown our own feelings. Then we do not know who we are.
Judgment instead of trust creates an environment of fear that does not allow for the uniqueness of individuals to express themselves. This is how we end up becoming generic and fake in the way we present ourselves to the world. We feel empty and lost and we do not know why. We live in denial of the vulnerabilities we have suppressed, and we come under their spell as they manifest as impulses that disrupt and shame us. We often do not understand why.
Self-awareness is the key and the way to transformation. Creativity can assist in manifesting our subconscious inconsistencies, so we become aware of them. This can happen through role play in theater, for example. Also, mindfulness can help us calm ourselves as we contemplate our interior needs and impulses in contrast with our exterior values and behaviors. Homes and schools could encourage mindfulness to help calm down individuals who are severely stressed. Psychological support in schools could help kids from all walks of life accept themselves and embrace their uniqueness.
Our society of pretense is breaking down because it is no longer possible or attainable to support institutions that have become barriers to the development of the individual. In the end, we are all copies of people who we thought it may be safe to be and we pretend in order to belong and survive. Ultimately, most people cannot be authentic all the time, so it is more important to be conscious of what is real and our denial about the state of our world. We all must accept that we do not only have good qualities, but that we also have a dark side. It is only when we are willing to be vulnerable that we can achieve true intimacy in our relationships and re-create a good attachment with our spouse or significant other, and our kids.
When we lie to ourselves about a job we hate and claim to like, we are inauthentic. When we make choices based on the fear of what others will say, we are inauthentic. Stress-parenting and economic mobility have brought a breakdown of family structure. Much trauma, and even some illnesses like Asthma, happen to children because of parental stress according to respected family practice physician, Dr. Gabor Mate. He goes on to say that for small children, soothing helps when they are upset to sustain the necessary attachment. If the child rejects it, that means we must repair the bond of love and trust with them once again. It is our responsibility to avoid becoming slaves to the market and addicted to becoming workaholics. Parental absence is the leading reason for attachment disorders.
Child brain development happens in relation to their environment. Children always have an attachment need, even in their teens so it is never too late to attempt to repair the relationship. Dr. Gabor Matte is convinced that bipolar disorders, autism, conduct disorder, impulse control issues, and ADHD are all products of coping mechanisms to stressful environments. The science of Epigenetics explains how genes can be turned on by the environment we live in. We may have a genetic predisposition but, it may not get turned on unless we are exposed to certain environments. Attachment interferes with socialization, affecting the critical need for individuals to fit into groups and survive.
In post-modern society children spend more time with their peers and their attachment increasingly is formed with immature individuals. This reckless lifestyle spells disaster for our future as more cases of bipolar disorders, autism, ADHD, conduct disorders, and impulse control issues are everyday more prevalent. It is not an evolutionary process it is purely a result of the environment and the economic models that we have created for ourselves. Instead of adjusting our values to the necessities of the present and adapting and creating institutions rooted in new values that would sustain efficient brain development, we have stayed stuck in values that do not fit in with the world we live in and our post-modern challenges.
Parents need to be aware that reattaching constantly with children is a must. Family dinner and spending time with adults are critical forms of establishing consistency and structure. School teachers should create an emotional bond with children too. I like the African saying that “it takes a village to raise a child”.
Minimizing self-created relationship stress will create a caring environment where we can be present for each other to attend to each other’s needs. Stressed out parents are oblivious to the needs of their children, by no fault of their own. We should take a weekly stress inventory and find other parents who also foster a culture of attachment with their children in open competition to the prevailing peer culture supported above the parental one.
In conclusion, the level of sophistication required to survive the post-modern world with its lack of sustainability and with alienation will require a subtle approach based on establishing improvements in our educational system. These improvements are mindfulness practices being taught at home and in schools, widespread psychological support offered to this generation who have suffered the brunt of our denials, and a change in the way corporations and employers facilitate parental leave and responsibilities, and how the government regulates child-care; providing support to all members of society and not only a privileged few with corporate welfare.