#62 Dr. Gordon Neufeld | Hold On To Your Kids: Unveiling the Power of Parental Attachment

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🗓️ Recorded March 28th, 2024. 📍 San Francisco, United States

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About this Episode 

We celebrate the 20th anniversary of Dr. Gordon Neufeld's seminal book, "Hold On To Your Kids: Why Parents Matter More Than Peers," which he co-wrote with Dr. Gabor Maté. 

Gordon's work has transformed our understanding of child development through the lens of parental attachment.  In this episode, Gordon shares the critical importance of maintaining strong, nurturing connections between parents and children. His insights delve into the complex dynamics of family and educational systems, advocating for a balance between togetherness and individuality and challenging prevailing attitudes toward parenting and education.

Throughout our discussion, Dr. Neufeld emphasizes the intrinsic power of parental intuition and the need for parents to trust in their inherent capabilities to guide and support their children through life's challenges. We explore the concept of cascading care, highlighting the necessity of a supportive community in fostering resilient and emotionally healthy children. The episode addresses pressing issues such as the impact of societal pressures on adolescents, the debate over homeschooling versus traditional schooling, and the role of government in family life.

Dr. Neufeld's passion for enhancing the parent-child relationship shines as he speaks about the transformative courses and initiatives undertaken by the Neufeld Institute to empower parents and professionals worldwide. This conversation reflects Dr. Neufeld's groundbreaking work and a forward-looking dialogue on cultivating deeper connections and a more supportive societal framework for the benefit of children and families everywhere. Whether you're a parent, educator, or someone interested in the profound impact of love and attachment, this episode offers invaluable perspectives and a hopeful vision for the future of parenting.

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With love


Jesper Conrad 


00:00 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
So today we are together with Gordon Neufeld and Gordon, first of all, thank you for taking your time to be here with us today. That's my pleasure. Thank you you. I think it's the 20th anniversary this year, right? You wrote a book 20 years ago. Yes, it changed many people's lives, and I mean just the title alone. Hold On To your Kids why Parents Matter More Than Peers. And you co-wrote it together with Dr Gabriel Mathe. Can we start with going all the way back there and say how did this book came to be? 

00:40 - Dr. Gordon Neufeld (Guest)
I didn't originally set out to write a book on the problem of children orbiting around each other. I did want to write a book about attachment. I did want to write up the understanding that attachment had replaced survival as a preeminent need, that we need to attach in order to survive. I did want to write a book about, in putting the pieces together, my discovery that there were six sequential stages that are developed, about how to hold on when apart, that this was a priority of the brain to do this and that it needed conditions that were conducive. And this was not happening in our society today. 

But while I was doing it, it became quite obvious that something was awry. It's kind of like charting the stars in the sky and realizing there's an asteroid on its way to destroy the earth, and it was something like that. It says oh my goodness, for how many tens of thousands of years have children been revolving around those who are responsible for them? And it was accepted that they must depend upon those who take care of them, and attachment is the delivery system of care. And now our children are developing attachment disorders. One is the alpha child, the child who actually is in charge rather than dependent upon the parents. But the other one that is completely hidden is is that children revolving around their peers and pulling them out of orbit from the adults who care for them, and this is so normal in American culture, and I think you probably understand that. 

And I think you probably understand that American research is different in the social sciences than in Europe, and Canada is caught halfway in between. In America, what is normal is considered natural and it is a standard. Research in Europe has primarily been what could be is the standard, what could be, what should be, what has been, and so it's completely different research, and so those that are used to taking the normal as a standard the peer orientation is completely eclipsed. Because school is normal, it's assumed that it is natural. It is so unnatural, it is so unnatural. 

Yeah, you know for how many tens of thousands of years has have children been taught in the context of the adults they were attached to? And then we go to this little blip in today's society and think that's what ought to happen, that's what should happen. So it's like, come on, we gotta get back to our senses. So I'm a very slow writer. I'm not a natural writer. When I went to school, I was in the sciences so I could avoid writing. And so I was in the sciences, so I could avoid writing. And so I was teaching these courses and Gabor Maté was one of my students in my parenting courses, and so he is a natural born writer, of course, and he started writing up my material and I got mad at him and our wives said come on, you guys get along, you need each other so. 

So that's, I wrote the manuscript about twice as long as what eventually became the book, and he, what I call, gaborized it. He, he made it more consumable, and so that people could understand what I was trying to say yeah, we, we come from this um, from parenting, of course we. 

04:48 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
We have four children and we have had one who were in private school and the rest of them have stayed at home, and and the oldest of those who have stayed at home is now 18. So we have had quite a stretch with the whole homeschooling. Unschooling, yes, yes, and I see my interest in the whole attachment theory and the thoughts you and Gabo bring comes from the unschooling world, where I can just see how much of it is about the connection. Yes the connection yes and it's well it. 

05:26 - Dr. Gordon Neufeld (Guest)
It is a everything. Everything in development was meant to to take place in the context of children's attachments to the adults responsible for them, everything and school. School used to be in like school used to be within the, a child's attachment village. But that is long gone and and so nowadays the adults who are involved are not ones the children are attached to. They haven't been attachments constructed by the parents, match made by the parents, like even when you take socrates story, and in you know socrates. I mean he complained himself that what's happened to adolescents these days, you know youth these days they're more rebellious and so on and so on. But his death sentence, it was because he was considered to have turned the minds of of adolescents against their parents, to alienate them. And the fact was, is he brought them together to teach them, to school them, and what it did then is what it does now, is it attaches them to each other and pulls them out of orbit from the adults around him. So he was responsible for the very thing that he complained about. 

So school at its very beginnings, even long before the Prussian version of preparing children to become, you know, for the army and then the industrial version to prepare them to be factory workers was the ancient Greek version, which was creating peer orientation even at that time and taking children out of orbit from around the parents that are taking care of them. And we're looking back, like how far are we going back here? Like 2,500 years. 

07:22 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Yeah, going back here like 2500 years, but the problem so I read your book, but I read it 10 years ago, so forgive me if it's been a while. I think now we've been on this unschooling journey. We are living a different life. We're not doing the school thing. We took that out of the equation in our family and your book has been a big resource, a big motor that we could put on ourselves, breaking free from that norm. It was a great relief to read it. I'm a psychologist as well and I was taught these things. Even in Europe that school is the standard and we have to work within that system. We can't. You know, there's no reason to make a developmental psychology based on the idea of no institutions, because institutions are reality, all that things. 

08:21 - Dr. Gordon Neufeld (Guest)
And it made me not want to be a psychologist because I didn't find it real, I'm at least not a, not at least not a normal psychologist exactly so. 

08:31 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
So we did something different. I'm just thinking now this question is the same question we're still getting. We're 10, 12, 15 something years into unschooling and people still talk to me with the same idea what about peers? Don't they need to have some? And I have to keep playing that same record. Yes, there's a faulty assumption. 

08:59 - Dr. Gordon Neufeld (Guest)
There's a faulty assumption and it's partially our language. Our language confuses socializing and socialization. Socialization is about rendering fit for society. Socializing is interaction with one's peers and because the word is the same, it feeds into this idea that socializing is necessary for socialization. Contrary to all the evidence, the more time people are our children are with their peers, the less they integrate into mainstream society, the less they do, and and so it's contrary to this. But there's a problem here and there's a faulty assumption as well. You know that comes even apart from the language and confusion, or the confusion of language, rather, is that what replaces parents is peers. 

All the science of development and it's so self-evident when you realize it the the whole thrust of of adolescent development, the whole way what is to replace parents is one's own person, a selfhood, and adolescence has always been about developing a self that's strong enough to survive interaction with one's peers and not threaten one's attachments with one's family. So that's what's supposed to survive interaction with peers. And so we have North America. Despite its belief in individualism, has one of the most conforming cultures in the world as far as adolescence. If you're different, there are sanctions against you. There is no room for individuality? Not at all. And the fact is, in adolescence, if everything is working healthily, unfolding, it's not an either or scenario, it's a this. And how can I be my own person without threatening my connection, my relationships with my parents? How can I preserve my parents without threatening? 

There's a meta principle in development that was coined by Heinz Werner in 1956. It's the meta principle of all development. The first movement is always about togetherness, and if togetherness has been sufficiently satisfied, the next movement is all about separation. This is true, or separateness and separation. This is true at the level of a cell, a level of an organ. It's true at the level of a self. It's true all across, even in non-living things. Once there is enough separateness, the next challenge is togetherness without loss of separateness and separateness without loss of togetherness. If you think of this, isn't this the challenge of marriage? 

12:17 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Oh yeah. 

12:18 - Dr. Gordon Neufeld (Guest)
Yes, and so the fact is is togetherness never goes away. It's either the foundation of separateness or it must be maintained in this, and this is what is important not only more viable as separate beings, more independent, but more embedded in cascading care where they need to be, because these are lifelong arrangements, and more integrative in their functioning. Being able to do this, and rather than either, or kinds of things, which is desperately needed today. And so the question would be and I always say to parents you should be asking parents who send their children to school on what basis do they justify doing this? It should never be the homeschooler that is in a defensive position. What has to be defended against and justified is what? Can you not afford to do this, this? Do you not have the resources to do this? Is there not the family backing you up? Is there something interfering with being able to do it the way it was meant to be done and which is in much better, you know better interest of your child? The whole thing has to be turned around. You know on, and and there's no question that that there are many who could not for all kinds of reasons. Absolutely there's no question about this. 

So then the question goes well, how best to do school? Well, preserve the connection, do the matchmaking, do all of this. You know how best to do school, so there's ways of how best to do this, so there's always a place for institutions to do. What families cannot do and that is part of the role of government is to do this, but not to replace the families that are functional. That is a mistake. That is what has happened in Germany and in Sweden is the governments are so patronistic, so arrogant, as they believe that they are better for children than the family is, and unfortunately, as you know, most of Europe is following Sweden down the garden path and Germany has lost its senses this way and believing that the state is better for a child and the family, While you look at what the state does with kids and you shudder, you absolutely shudder it's very, very scary. 

14:48 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Sweden is our neighboring country. We're from denmark, so we've had a lot of refugees coming. Uh, what happened in sweden when they banned homeschooling in 2010? Is everyone moved to denmark more? Or less except for finland somewhere else yeah, finland some moved further away, but they didn't actually shut down any homeschooling, because the swedes with who had already chosen homeschooling, were quite strong in their choice. They just left. But of course now they are, they are. It's impossible in sweden. You can't do it. 

15:18 - Dr. Gordon Neufeld (Guest)
I don't think they're no you know the the sanctions are so great, the penalties are so great. Is that you? You simply can. And the problem in Sweden is parents have lost their confidence that they are their child's best bet. You are their answer, and I mean today's American parents think they have to find the answers, when no, you don't have to do so. Parenting has always been a bluff. It's always been a bluff. It's better if you know that it's a bluff, so that you don't know that it gets any better than this. But you need to show up. 

You need to say I am the answer to the child's invitation to exist in this world. I am the answer to the sense of significance, to their sense of sameness, of belonging. I am the answer, not I have the answers. That's getting more difficult all the time in a very sophisticated society, but I am the answer. And and my experience I've been to sweden 10 times and I can just see they're they're. They're like parents, like deer caught in the headlights. They've lost that thing that every parent needs. You know the. The youngest parent, mother, a 15-year-old of a new baby, needs to come into that baby's present with this wonderful, arrogant swagger I'm your best bet, I'm the one you need, and then it will come true. But if you don't do that, you're lost. And I find there's a crisis of confidence today and in with with parents, and for one thing, they don't know that it's a bluff. I wish they did, because the more they read the the, the more. The less confident they are, not the more confident they are. 

17:24 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
But we also have a structure around becoming a parent that really interferes with that confidence, or that showing up with the feeling I'm your best bet and I'm the only parent you have, or at least I'm the only mother you have, and and and. Uh, this is what it is. I'm going to do what I find right and I will do my best, and I'm here to hold you, you know, hold a space for you why I think of it as a kind of a ceremony, but that we should have. 

17:55 - Dr. Gordon Neufeld (Guest)
By the power invested in me, by your attachment to me, I will, I, I will step up to be, to become the answer that you need uh and so it's, but it's. But it's by the power invested in me, by the child's attachment to me, and so that becomes that, because there's anything sacred that is. What is sacred is being able to preserve that connection. Culture used to do this and it doesn't do it anymore. It's come undone. There's not the rituals, the practices to preserve it. 

18:32 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Uh, so it's, uh we come on practices to ruin it. That was my experience becoming a parent that I show up to the rituals that we have in our culture. Now you show up at the doctor, you find a midwife, you have this whole process and you're just bombarded with advice, with little pamphlet sized books telling you how to do it and the meta message there is you don't know we're going to provide well, no, it puts the parent in the dependent mode rather than in the alpha, rather than the provider mode, like right now. 

19:07 - Dr. Gordon Neufeld (Guest)
We're putting, we're being put to shame by, by, by primates who can actually do a better job than us. You know they're showing up, they're taking care of their young ones. You know, and, and and we, we've, we've, we're, we're losing our, our senses in this way. We're losing all our history, uh, you know all our, our, our destiny, uh, in and our, because there's nothing more fulfilling than becoming the answer our child needs. There can't be anything more fulfilling. Right now, my wife and I are involved in two days of grandparent care for our 18-month-old, our seventh grandchild, odessa, of grandparent care for our 18 month old, or seventh grandchild, odessa. And, oh, my goodness, is it a fulfilling dance. Oh, when I do this, nothing else matters. Nothing else matters Not. You know we're. Hold onto your kids is in the scheme. Nothing else matters. You know that truly is. 

20:23 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
You can feel it that that was nature's plan. Yeah, that's the dessert yeah after that. 

20:26 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
Well, gordon, there's two words I would like to talk about. One of them is cascading care if you could put some more words than that and the other is from an interview I heard with you on the Be Human podcast, where you mentioned roots versus wings and it led me to think about we have had a wonderful guest, also called Darcia Naves, who have written a book called the Evolved Nest. 

20:54 - Dr. Gordon Neufeld (Guest)
That is about oh yes, yes about. 

20:56 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
Oh yes, yes, wonderful project, but she's also using the nest uh analogy where, just like what you said about um so, helping your children to grow up, it's not about giving them wings, but giving them roots. So, yes, go into first cascading care and talking about roots, and it's a long question. 

21:17 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Yeah, I like that. 

21:22 - Dr. Gordon Neufeld (Guest)
Yes, well, I. The cascading care uh is an arrangement that never goes away. Attachment is is a delivery system of care and we were never meant to take care of ourselves. We were always meant to be taken care of and, in the generosity of that, we take care of others. And included in this is, if one has a God, one feels taken care of by that God so that one can take care of others. It includes those who take care of their ancestors, like all indigenous peoples believe they were still being taken care of by those who had gone before and in preserving their relationships with them, they were cared for by them. It includes being taken care of by the earth, which is an indigenous construct. The earth holds on to us so it can take care of us, it gives us gifts and so that we can take care of others. 

So this cascading care has various manifestations, but it's a bottom line and it's as opposed to self-care and it's opposed to independence. One is never independent and should not be independent in terms of care. One can walk on one's own two feet, have one's own sense of self, one have one's own ideas, but caring should be like if it's self-care, you're narcissistic by default. We should always position ourselves to take care of others. That's where we find our fulfillment and, in so doing, find those and depend upon those who will take care of us. That delivers us from becoming narcissistic, as is what is happening in our society today, and brings us into proper relationship. That it is the attachment dance is the provider and the receiver, the alpha and the dependent. Dependency never goes away and never was meant to go away. It was only meant to be fulfilled so that we could be the answer to somebody else's needs. So cascading care is. I looked for some phrase that I could capture this and I thought well, maybe cascading care, like a waterfall, generously fulfills the pool and it overflows to the other one and overflows. And so there is this incredible construct of grace in this. Is this overflowing love, this invitation to exist in one's presence, that in which there is I will not let anything come in between and with generosity, each is fulfilled, instead of trying to become independent. This construct of independence has been a myth that started with John Locke in the 1600s and has spread throughout as if this was the goal. It's never our goal. You cannot by default, cannot by default, be your own answer with regards to to love and significance, sameness, and these are relational needs. They always have been relational needs. They are met in others. If not, then they must be grieved. Those are the only options. They it this. 

The whole industry, from children up, is now about self-care, and it's so hugely mistaken. So cascading care, and it's why we need to match make children with their grandparents, and if there's not functional grandparents with surrogate grandparents, we need to find surrogate aunts and uncles. If we don't have a functional extended family, we need to reconstruct the village from bottom up. By bottom up, I mean as a bottom up arrangement. A caregiver is not a caregiver unless the child is attached to them. Then they are empowered to take care of them. So that's the cascading care. I just maybe there's another analogy, but I was just searching around for some kind of thing that covered the indigenous ways of thinking the way, the only way that the natural template allows. As you can see, I could talk on that. No, I love it, yeah yeah, yeah. 

25:51 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
And then the thinking. 

25:52 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Yeah, I was thinking about a little favorite quote I have from a children's book, saying the best way of taking care of yourself is to take care of someone else. 

26:02 - Dr. Gordon Neufeld (Guest)
Yeah, reciprocity yeah, reciprocity, reciprocity, thank you. 

26:13 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
I'm not native of the relation, because this whole being your own person and being independent and doing things on your own who really wants that? 

26:26 - Dr. Gordon Neufeld (Guest)
yes, well, even in marriage, is cascading care. At any given moment, one is taking care of the other and the best arrangement is taking turns taking care of each other and getting that dance. But at any given moment it is about, because what is marriage if it isn't an attachment? And what is an attachment is if it isn't about the delivery of care, and so it is taking turns taking care of each other, and if we thought of it that way, it would completely transform our thinking. With children and with friends, it's taking turns, taking care of each other. With children, it's a one-way relationship, and so that's why it's so important to be embedded in that sense of cascading care. Of those you felt taken care of, I still feel taken care of by my father and my mother and my grandfather, and they've been long gone. 

27:32 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
I agree, I lost my parents or some of them. I am fortunate enough to have four of them because of an early divorce, and half of them were gone and I still have them. I still agree, yeah. I think one of the worst pieces of advice that's going around out there for parents is that take your me time. 

27:52 - Dr. Gordon Neufeld (Guest)
Yes, it is. 

27:53 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
It annoys the hell out of me, it really does. People are going away from small babies for a weekend because we need me time. You don't really need that. You need to be on your own as a parent. 

28:05 - Dr. Gordon Neufeld (Guest)
Nobility lies in sacrifice, and there's only one reason we sacrifice. There's only one reason we'll lick our addiction. There's only one reason we'll face our demons and that's because of love of another. The research shows this completely. Whether it is recidivism, incorrections, whether it is addiction, if you love somebody, you are willing to face your demons to get to their side. That is where recovery is. That's where recovery is. That's where healing is. 

So the answer to whatever ails us really, if you think of it, is in the love of a parent for the child. You live in that love, you step up to be the answer and you will be confronted in your neuroses, you will be stretched to. However it is that you stretch, you will mature. I can guarantee you that. You know that is where it happens. I I started as an adult therapist and I decided no, all I have to do is help parents come, become the answers to their children. Healing happens, addictions get conquered, all of those things happen. So I withdrew from adult therapy because I did much better therapy by delivering parents to their children. 

29:43 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Beautiful. Is that also about? Do you want to? Am I interrupting? 

29:49 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
you no, no, no. It was just yeah, yes, I was yes, yes, go on, no, no. We have traveled a lot. We have now six years down full-time traveling. A lot of that time has been spent in Spain and sometimes people, when we come around, walking around, called us la familia and the first was like, no, that's nice and cozy and stuff. And then I was starting to recognize it and I was like, but all the others are with their peers. It was really wild. 

30:19 - Dr. Gordon Neufeld (Guest)
Even there. 

30:20 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
Even there? Even there, no, a lot happened. The Spanish culture is better. 

30:26 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
The integration of generations. 

30:28 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
The teens were not. No, not the teens. 

30:30 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
So it happens and it breaks away and the thing that we are together in a group is wild to see that we are together in a group is wild to see it happens many places where we arrive that the local community around us refers to us as the family, in whatever language, and I think it's because we move as a group and it's unseen. 

30:55 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
Always a problem yeah, but it led me to think about um and another story which I talked with a good friend, martin, about becoming a dad and about the advices we got from our parents. And he said to me, in very you know the british humor, he said well, my dad, he said congratulations and invited me for a pint at the local pub. That was all the fatherly advice he got. And it just for me. Look, I see the broken delivery of cascading care. Yes, so I know I will do a different job, but I'm just considering how can we mend it for the parents out there. Should I work with my connection to my parents? What can we do? 

31:46 - Dr. Gordon Neufeld (Guest)
It starts with the child. You got to get your eyes off yourself. You got to get the eyes off of you. Know, I got to fix myself first before I can be the answer you start with no matter how broken you are. You start like that's the way. 

The best way to start, like from a 15 year old mother, young mother is you start with with committing yourself to be the answer your child needs. That begins the question of, well, what do they need? But it sensitizes to you. Oh, my goodness, the child needs to know they're important to me right now. That child needs to know that whatever just happened, did you know I'm still the father it it's not going to interfere with my love you. You begin to intuit what it is that the child needs. 

That doesn't make it make it easy. It's simple. But this simplicity is deceptive. It is difficult to get over oneself. It is difficult to think that I've got to get myself ready for this, or prepared, no, no, no, Just step up. 

Every child you know to be the father this child needs will be a different father than my next child or the child before or someone else's. It is a dance with a child, but if I start there, it will transform me. It cannot help but transform me as I sense, and in this process I may find that I didn't get what I needed. I didn't feel my father by my side, I didn't feel the invitation to exist in his presence. Then there's a time for tears and for sadness, which does the work of being able to heal us and help us let go of that which didn't work, but it also equips us to be there for those who do need us, and so it does happen. It does happen, but it starts with. 

I always would say keep your eyes on your child, Don't put them on yourself. It is true about this navel gazing. I've been a therapist for 50 years and it is true is that when you start gazing at your navel, your children lose you again. Yeah, Keep your eyes on your child. Just how can I be the answer they need? And just let the dance start to evolve. 

34:17 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
From there. Yeah, start to evolve from there? 

34:19 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
yeah, can we talk a little about the, the period where many people are led to believe that the the distance between parents and children should become like when, then? When they become teens, they should live their own life, more or less, and you shouldn't be really connected. They should spread their wings and all this? We have lived together with our children full time for many, many years and have also seen this development they go through, and it is a wild thing to become a team. It is emotionally a very big ride and I'm very happy that we have been there and seen it. But what is your advice to the parents going through this, because it is a crazy period they need us and we still are their best bet. 

35:16 - Dr. Gordon Neufeld (Guest)
They need us, but we need their hearts to be able to protect their hearts, to shield their hearts. Adolescents are having a dreadful time when they get orphaned from the adults around them that do this. I mean, it becomes so obvious when you think that, let's say, we have a Romeo and Juliet situation and we have a young 14-year-old who has given his heart to a young girl and they are in love. Well, every parent would have the same worries. Oh, my goodness. First of all, how do you stand in the way of that? You can't, you can't. Love has its own life. Attachment has its own life. So what do you worry about? You worry about your child's heart being broken. Is that what you worry about? And will they be able to sustain it? 

Most of the suicides happen after there's been a rejection, a jilting and this. And so if you go back to a more intuitive sense, well, what would be the answer? Well, you know already what is the answer. With the grandparents, You've got to strengthen the relationships with the other adults. You can't have all your eggs in one basket. Is that you strengthen this so that there is a family? There is this net, there is a safety net around so that when the heart gets broken, there is not so much of a loss of meaning in one life, not so much dejection that it is there. That's what today's adolescents don't have. Is it any different than in the time of Romeo and Juliet? Is it any different than the time of Socrates? Well, not necessarily. Is that they're put into situations where they think they are each other's answer? But it's premature. 

37:04 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
It's premature. 

37:05 - Dr. Gordon Neufeld (Guest)
It's not that they don't get attached to each other, and sometimes wonderfully so, but, oh my goodness, do they need us, and our adult children do, because in today's world, when their weight goes on each other and that's all they have, and it's a nuclear thing. What happens when something goes wrong and for the most part things go wrong is you still need to know that your mom and dad love you, that they take care of you. You still need to have this sense of them having your back. It continues on, and that's the greatest gift that I give my own adult children, two of them which are in their 50s, is it takes the weight off of their own marriages and friendships. It gives them more a chance to survive, more a chance to do this thing, which is very difficult in today's world. 

Are we ever, you know, do not need parents anymore? Well, maybe not parents, but we still need to depend upon those, believe in the care of those, the invitation we do so. We're never outside of that. That would make a mockery of religion if we were. I. We're never outside of that. That is the way. That is the way things go. 

That is cascading care, so, so adolescence the best adolescents is when an adolescent is full of their own thoughts and desires to be their own person and walk their own path, but wanting at the same time to preserve the connections with mom and dad, with grandparents, with aunts and uncles, and with their siblings, taking care of their younger siblings and still in relationship with their older ones, being able to be involved with their cousins. That's the best arrangement. That's the best arrangement and to this is there room for having friends? Yes, but not when they interfere with what they really need. And so there has to be. It's not a balance, it has to be the fact that not more the more interaction with peers. If it takes away from what they really need in the context of family, both taken care of and being taken care of, then they're going to be running into difficulties. 

39:33 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
But it's a massive culture to walk against. 

39:39 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
Yes, it's swimming against the current definitely. 

39:41 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
It's really walking up a very, very strong river. 

39:44 - Dr. Gordon Neufeld (Guest)
Yes, but remember, it's only a blip in our own history. I know, yes, it's going against convention, it's going against today's, but it's not going against the nature's template for the unfolding of potential. It is in harmony with it. And now, when we realize that we were wrong in taking indigenous culture away, because they had something we needed, you know, and, and now we're trying to find our way back, they are trying to find their way back to something that provided some, some continuity, because putting the dollar first, putting efficiency first, putting children into these factories of education, is not the way it was meant to be. It can't be helped in many cases, but it's not the way it was meant to be helped in many cases, but it's not the way it was meant to be. 

40:54 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Jesper and I are at the moment talking a lot about how we can help those who are not unschooling. It's very easy to preach for the choir when I'm saying it's walking upstream. It's not so much for us personally. We have teenage children and one adult and and well, they're out of that system. So so we have them quote unquote a lot of the time and but when the whole culture around it being, I don't know, pop culture, movies, advice, parental advice in the news, in magazines, it all pushes in the wrong direction. 

41:47 - Dr. Gordon Neufeld (Guest)
And these parents. 

41:49 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
When I try to help them, I feel a little bit lost. I feel a little bit like okay, you're one person and you need an army behind you and you don't have it. 

41:58 - Dr. Gordon Neufeld (Guest)
Yes, but it can be done. It can be done, but it goes to the essence of it is attachment is powerful, and if you preserve that attachment and you go to the deepest parts of attachment when you have your child's heart and when, when there is a sense of closeness to you that isn't threatened by peer attachments because they don't go that deep and you've got something to do so. But you've got to keep in mind that needs preserving. You've got to use your family holidays for that. You've got to use your family holidays for that. You've got to use your extended family for that. You've got to do this, but it can be done, like single parents can do this. Should it have been done? No, but it can be done. It can be done. And so it's not about schooling or unschooling. And so it's not about schooling or unschooling. It's about knowing that the most important, what is most sacred, is the child's attachment to the adults responsible for them. And you know, if you need to, then, like you know, if your adolescent gave their heart away to another individual and if you said, well, I can't break their relationship, I'm going to have to win her too and bring her as part of the family, like you, do what you need to do and so bring in the peers, matchmake with the teachers, do what you need to do. 

But my message is I try to work all sides. I try to work with teachers, to develop relationships with them. Basically, the message is the power lies in attachment. You preserve that and there'll be enough power to do this thing. And so don't despair. That isn't you know, it's not the way it was meant to be. We've come undone. But it's not that we can't be the answers our children need. There is a way. Uh, if, uh, if, if the person is willing, there's always a way yeah, I agree, and it gives hope, to put it that way. 

44:09 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
It's just. I also do understand how hard it can be, even just coming down to the math of the hours. How many hours of? 

44:17 - Dr. Gordon Neufeld (Guest)
the day you actually see your child had to alternate between the prisons. I had three prisons and my responsibility. So I would hope that I would get back to that particular kid in two weeks that I had developed a relationship with. But my challenge was to create a relationship with them that was strong enough to survive the two weeks that I didn't see them. So I mean, I often thought of it like okay, so you have to bring down apollo 13 with batteries well, it could be done, it can be done, yeah yeah, it could be done. 

Uh, it might take a bit of creative thinking, but that's a power of attachment. Lovers used to be able to hold on to each other before the Internet, incredibly, for years at a time without seeing each other. It can be done. It's not a matter of the amount of time, it's a matter of the kind of the relationship and the way you do it, and so it's that where our hope lies. And again, well, you know what if I die? Well, set it up so you'll be able to serve your child when you die. You know, that's the thing. Your mother is your mother, dead or alive, for better or for worse. That's the beauty of it is you continue on with serving your child. We think that everything ends with death. Well, a lot of parents today think that it ends with a child leaving high school. It never ends. It never ends. It is and it is the fulfillment. 

So many adults today are unfulfilled. Why? Because they are not in these arrangements of cascading care. My mother, at 93 years of age, was just absolutely fulfilled at her funeral, and I knew why because the church she went to had a wonderful program of being able to connect to those 80 or over that really had a lot of care to give, and extra care to give, with young parents who were in desperate need of some coverage, and it was an incredible one. My mother lived for this every day. 

At her funeral, the number of surrogate grandchildren that came up to honor her was amazing 93 years of age and, I think, the most fulfilled lady I ever knew in our society of people we've cast away because they seem to be too old, they don't fit in anymore. Oh, my goodness, what would happen if we started matchmaking with this incredible resource we have, you know, think about what schooling would be if we just simply took all those individuals who wanted to mentor and who had no one to mentor and started a matchmaking service this way. Like it's amazing. And you know, the only condition is that they didn't compete with your attachments to the children, and so it was a symbiotic affair. Like we could do so much. We could do so much. 

47:59 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)

48:01 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
I sit with a little tear here. Oh man, that's beautiful, it's, but it has also become a whole industry. When people are sad or not fulfilled, then people are ready to sell them something instead of just saying they go out and be something for someone. Yes, exactly exactly. 

48:24 - Dr. Gordon Neufeld (Guest)
Yeah, you know here, you know you do something to take care of yourself. You got to go to an exercise thing or whatever it is, and then no, no, there are a lot of people who need to be taken care of in this world and there's a lot of care that is out there wanting to be delivered. We just have to hook them up yeah so how do we get started with that? That's a good question. 

48:54 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
That's a good question. So for the parent who feels that it's overwhelming, really the message is not giving up. You can build a strong relation. You don't need to be an unschooler, you don't need to be a very powerful individual. You don't need to have had a perfect childhood yourself to show up. 

49:18 - Dr. Gordon Neufeld (Guest)
You don't need to have a model. 

49:21 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
You don't need to. 

49:23 - Dr. Gordon Neufeld (Guest)
You know to go for a recovery. What you need. How could those 14 and 15 year olds that I work with break the abusive relationship, kick the addiction, do this? It was their baby. It was their baby Becoming the parent their baby needed was, was made all the difference it always does does, and so that's where you start again. It, it isn't that complicated, it's deceptively simple, and it's the way the world goes around. Uh, you know, harvard can do a big fancy study and then, after all of that, come back and say, oh yes, it's love that makes the world go round yeah, it is, yeah, it is. 

50:16 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Love is the answer it sounds like a, a pop song, and it is, but it's also the truth it's a four-letter word to scientists, right, it always. 

50:24 - Dr. Gordon Neufeld (Guest)
Science always stutters when it thinks of love. Because it's, it's just. We've never been able to define it, but we know it's there. But the love here is like today's world always talks about self-love. Ah, no, no, no, that will come. You become the answer to what a child needs and you find your dignity. You find a beautiful arrogance when you know you are somebody's best bet. You walk differently. You talk differently. You've got a swagger in you. You know this isn't from practicing self-love. 

51:04 - Jesper Conrad (Host)
This is from finding your destiny in, in the scheme of things, in cascading care I'm fulfilled just by listening to this I'm very very happy, uh that you you took the time, and I would um like for people to listen to the podcast uh, gordon day. I would like them to know how can they get to know more about the work you do. So it's time to talk a little about the Neufeld Institute, the work you do there and how people can, if they feel ignited, like I do, how can they help get the message out? How can they seek the help they need? 

51:52 - Dr. Gordon Neufeld (Guest)
the help they need. Well, when I retired from university teaching from private practice, I had this wonderful opportunity of being able to create courses, because I love to create courses for parents and for other adults responsible for children, teachers and helping professionals. So then I had to create an institute by which to deliver those. So a non-profit, charitable institute that delivers courses now in about eight languages throughout the world, so it's just Neufeldinstituteorg and it's a charitable international organization. That has basically been my life's work and dream and fulfillment to be able to do this. And it's basically about making sense of kids, because when you make sense of kids, then the insight gives you all you need to become their answer. 

So I wrote a book 20 years ago it just got on the bestsellers list again last week which was uh interesting in canada. That is uh, and hold on to your kids, which again is about, uh, about starting at the beginning, of preserving that connection with them so that, uh, your care can get through to them. Uh, but the book and uh and the newfeld instituteorg and we've got an online conference coming up and what's happening to our kids april 20th or something like that. That's uh coming up, uh, our annual conference. But yes, if, if your listeners or viewers uh say, ah that, that, that was only a taste, I want more, then that's where to go for more that's wonderful one place yeah, thanks a lot for your time, my pleasure. 

I'm delighted. 


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