Dr. Gordon Neufeld is a pioneer researcher on attachment within families. He speaks and writes on the importance of parents as the primary attachments. Following up on the work of Bowlby’s “Secure Base” and other work such as, Anna Freud’s “Infants Without Families”, Dr. Neufeld demonstrates the potency of the natural design for deep parent-child bonds.
In an article on Dr. Neufeld’s blog, Shoshana Hayman shares about attachment and religious faith. In her article “And Thou Shall Teach Thy Children….” Linking the Generations Together Through Centuries, she shares about attending a traditional Passover Seder. She writes how she “expected to hear deep insights into the Haggadah, the ancient text that relates the story of the exodus of the Jewish People from Egypt to become a nation in their own homeland” but was surprised when “the rabbi directed all of the discussion to the young children who sat at the table. He told them stories, listened to their ideas, and encouraged them to ask questions. And there was a lot of joyful singing, adults and children together.” Hayman says that:
The fulfillment of the commandment “thou shall teach thy children…” unfolded before my eyes, and brought back my own wonderful childhood memories of the Passover Seder, when the story of Passover became part of who I am.
What causes a child to accept the teachings and values of his parents so they become his way of life? Children learn best from those with whom they have a close, safe and loving relationship. Children must always feel the warm invitation to exist in the presence of their parents and other adults in their lives who care for them. This kind of relationship, called an attachment relationship, must be nurtured and protected so that it can deepen over the years. This is the context within which parents can instruct, direct and correct their children, and children can remain open to their parents’ influence.
Here is a video interview of Dr. Neufeld which provides a great overview of his core insights on attachment. It’s 17 minutes long but it’s down-to-earth and full of practical wisdom.