“Hold On to Your Kids” introduces the concept of “peer orientation” and how to reconnect with your children

Those of you who have known me for sometime, know that my passion is in helping individuals, couples and families. A lot of us have had unstable childhoods and we try our best with the information we have available to us at the time, but some cycles are hard to break… behaviour is a big challenges for most people, add in different communication styles and we have can have a dogs breakfast. My work is really in education and implementation in hope that people experience more pleasure and less pain in life. In this newsletter I start with the purest bond of all, the attachment with a child.

I understand that the challenges of parenting in today’s world can often leave us feeling confused and overwhelmed. In a rapidly changing society, it is easy to question how we can truly connect with our children and ensure they grow up feeling secure and loved.

Today, I want to share some valuable insights inspired by the book “Hold on to Your Kids” by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Maté. This book delves into the impact of social changes in childcare for young children, and it offers a roadmap for building strong attachments with your kids, even in the face of modern challenges.

1. Early Separation from Parents: In today’s fast-paced world, it is common for children to spend a significant amount of time away from their parents due to daycare, preschool, and extracurricular activities. This early separation can disrupt the natural parent-child attachment. We must be aware of this and find ways to maintain strong connections.

2. Peer Orientation: “Hold On to Your Kids” introduces the concept of “peer orientation,” where children become more emotionally attached to their same-age peers rather than their parents. This shift can occur when children spend excessive time apart from their families. Understanding this concept is vital for regaining influence in your child’s life.

3. Challenges of Peer-Oriented Attachment: Peer-oriented attachment can lead to various challenges, including behavioural issues, emotional instability, and difficulties in forming meaningful relationships with adults. It is crucial to address these challenges by prioritising parental connections.

4. The Importance of Parental Attachment: The book underscores that strong parental attachment is fundamental to a child’s emotional security, self-esteem, and resilience. Your role as a parent matter immensely in your child’s development.

5. Quality Over Quantity: While modern life often dictates busy schedules, it is the quality of time spent with your child that matters most. Being truly present, engaged, and emotionally available during the time you have together is what fosters a strong bond.

6. Parental Influence: As parents, you are the primary influencers in your child’s life. Your guidance, support, and mentorship help them navigate the world around them. Note: Looking back at your own attachments may help

7. Balancing Social Changes: Recognise that societal changes have brought about the need for childcare and early education. However, the book advocates for a balanced approach where parents remain central in their child’s life, maintaining a strong emotional bond despite these changes.

8. Rebuilding Attachment: If you are facing challenges due to early separation or peer orientation, the book offers strategies for rebuilding attachment. It involves reestablishing a strong emotional bond and prioritising the parent-child relationship. Note: I have written a story to help understand how we can improve our attachments with our children

In the book “Hold On to Your Kids” by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Maté, the concept of “polar attachments” or “vertical attachments” is discussed as a fundamental aspect of healthy parent-child relationships. The authors argue that in traditional societies, children naturally formed strong attachments to their parents, creating a “vertical” bond. However, they propose that modern society has shifted towards “horizontal” attachments, where children become more attached to their peers than to their parents. Here is what the book says about polar attachments:

1.    Traditional Vertical Attachments: The book contrasts traditional societies, where children primarily formed attachments to their parents and other adult caregivers. In these societies, parents played a central role in a child’s life, providing guidance, security, and emotional connection.

2.    Shift to Horizontal Attachments: The authors argue that in contemporary society, there has been a shift towards horizontal attachments, where children prioritise their relationships with peers over their relationships with parents. This shift can lead to a range of challenges, including behavioural problems, emotional instability, and a lack of parental influence.

3.    Peer-Oriented Culture: The book suggests that the rise of peer-oriented culture, driven by factors such as increased time spent with peers, early entry into group settings like daycare and school, and the influence of media and technology, has contributed to the shift away from vertical attachments.

4.    Impact on Parent-Child Relationships: The authors contend that this shift towards horizontal attachments can weaken the parent-child bond. When children are more attached to their peers, they may be less receptive to parental guidance and influence. This can lead to parents feeling disconnected and struggling to maintain a meaningful connection with their children.

5.    Importance of Reestablishing Polar Attachments: “Hold On to Your Kids” emphasises the importance of reestablishing strong vertical attachments between parents and children. The authors believe that doing so is essential for a child’s emotional security, healthy development, and resilience.

6.    Strategies for Reconnection: The book offers strategies for parents to reestablish vertical attachments. These strategies involve spending quality time with children, nurturing open communication, providing emotional support, setting appropriate boundaries, and actively engaging in their lives as mentors and role models.

In summary, the concept of polar attachments or vertical attachments in “Hold On to Your Kids” highlights the shift in modern society away from traditional parent-child relationships and towards peer-oriented attachments. The book emphasises the importance of recognising and addressing this shift to ensure that parents can maintain strong emotional connections with their children, thereby fostering their emotional well-being and development.

Creating a secure attachment with your children requires effort and patience. You are not alone in feeling overwhelmed by the demands of parenting in today’s world. By implementing these insights and strategies, you can strengthen the emotional connection with your child, ensuring their well-being and resilience.

I am here to support you on this journey. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions or need guidance in nurturing these essential parent-child connections.

Wishing you strength and success in building secure attachments with your children.

Her is a story to help with communication moving forward, whilst I have used a female name in this story, please feel free to apply a male name or a non-binary person as the adult in this story.

Once upon a time in a bustling neighbourhood, there lived a dedicated mother named Sarah and her bright-eyed, curious son, Ethan. Sarah had read the book “Hold On to Your Kids” by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Maté, and she was determined to build a strong bond with her child, despite the challenges posed by a peer-oriented culture.

One sunny afternoon, as Ethan returned home from school, Sarah decided to put some of the book’s strategies into action. She wanted to make sure her connection with her son remained unbreakable, even in a world where peer influence seemed to dominate.

First, Sarah decided to spend quality time with Ethan. She put her phone aside and engaged in a heartfelt conversation with him. They talked about his day at school, his dreams, and his fears. Ethan felt heard and valued, knowing that his mother was fully present with him.

Open communication was another key strategy Sarah embraced. She created an environment where Ethan felt comfortable sharing his thoughts and feelings. She listened without judgment and provided a safe space for him to express himself openly. This encouraged honesty and trust in their relationship.

Physical affection was never neglected in their household. Sarah showered Ethan with hugs, kisses, and cuddles. These moments of physical closeness reassured Ethan of his mother’s love and care. He felt secure and cherished.

Sarah also maintained consistent routines and age-appropriate boundaries. She explained the reasons behind rules and consequences, helping Ethan understand the importance of structure while nurturing their trust.

Quality over quantity became a guiding principle for Sarah. She realised that it was not about filling every moment with activities but making the time they spent together meaningful and memorable. She cherished their shared experiences.

Recognising her role as the primary influencer in Ethan’s life, Sarah continued to provide guidance, support, and mentorship. She served as a positive role model, and her actions spoke volumes about the values she held dear.

As Ethan grew, Sarah encouraged his independence. She allowed him to explore, make age-appropriate decisions, and learn from his experiences. This empowered him to develop a sense of autonomy while knowing his mother was there to support him.

Whenever Ethan achieved something, no matter how small, Sarah celebrated his accomplishments. She acknowledged his efforts, boosting his self-esteem and motivating him to keep striving for success.

Respecting Ethan’s individuality was crucial to Sarah. She recognised his unique interests, strengths, and weaknesses, never pushing him into paths that did not align with his true self. This respect strengthened their connection.

Sarah also taught Ethan the importance of taking responsibility for one’s actions. When she made mistakes or reacted inappropriately, she did not hesitate to apologise. This modelled humility and accountability.

Through patience and dedication, Sarah and Ethan embarked on a journey to build a strong parent-child attachment. They understood that trust and connection took time to develop fully. Together, they faced the challenges of a peer-oriented culture, confident in their unbreakable bond.

And so, in the heart of their bustling neighbourhood, Sarah and Ethan continued to navigate life’s adventures, their love and attachment stronger than ever, as they held on to each other in a world where children and parents were learning to rediscover the power of their connection.


Warm regards,

Darleen Barton Family Therapist and Meditation Practitioner

Brochure and what others have experienced- https://tinyurl.com/u9xwmj9z 

Communication issues and unrealistic expectations stand out as significant factors leading to the erosion of desire and romantic feelings in relationships.

Communication issues and unrealistic expectations stand out as significant factors leading to the erosion of romantic feelings in relationships. However, there are strategies to halt this decline. Relationships are akin to investments and require dedication, especially within the context of marriage.

Identifying warning signs in a relationship is essential, such as excessive jealousy, frequent deceit, unwarranted criticism, or belittlement from a partner. Another major red flag is a reluctance to compromise; relationships should be a two-way street.

In summary, infidelity can often be resolved with effort. Typically, infidelity occurs when one or both partners neglect the relationship’s needs. People enter relationships for positive feelings and stay when they feel valued. In the 21st century, women, in particular, are less tolerant of partners who neglect the relationship. Therefore, it’s crucial to periodically self-reflect and engage in acts of romance and appreciation.

A valuable tip: If your partner strays from the relationship, it likely stems from feeling consistently undesired, unloved, or undervalued in the relationship or in their childhood. While other factors may contribute to infidelity, it’s vital to focus on mutual effort and attentiveness to each other’s needs.

Additionally, ask your partner directly about their needs in the relationship. This open communication can foster a deeper connection.

A personal reminder: If alcohol consumption exceeds the healthy limit of two standard drinks per day, it may indicate a priority shift away from your partner. Seeking help for personal dependency issues is crucial in such cases.

A word of caution: If your partner has had an affair, and both of you decide to work through it, suggesting an open relationship to rekindle the spark is ill-advised. This can exacerbate feelings of undesirability and undervaluation.

The 21st century offers more choices and fewer established rules, lack of self-management, leading to self-discipline challenges and boundary issues. It’s crucial to understand your desires and prioritise personal happiness. Joy begins and ends with you.

Here are some tips from Dr. John Gottman to improve communication:

1.     Recognise the “Four Horsemen” of relationship conflict: Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, and Stonewalling. Understanding these patterns is essential for replacing them with healthy communication.

2.     Distinguish between expressing a complaint and criticising your partner. Complaints address specific issues, while criticism attacks a partner’s character.

3.     Contempt is even more damaging than criticism, as it assumes moral superiority over your partner and belittles them.

4.     Avoid defensiveness, which usually backfires by dismissing your partner’s concerns and refusing responsibility.

5.     Stonewalling, often a response to contempt, involves withdrawing from the conversation and not engaging with your partner, exacerbating conflicts.

If your relationship is struggling, seek help and be open to learning new ways to communicate. A couple’s counsellor can guide you through this process, but it may take time to build trust and drop defensive walls. Most couples undergo therapy for 6 to 12 weeks, including single and double sessions, with a “Disclosure session” as a crucial starting point. Moving through to the “Reset”. There’s no set timeline for therapy, so be patient with yourself if you’re facing challenges in your relationship.

5 Steps to a deeper connection over 30 days was created to help couples build a more solid foundation for connecting and bonding Couples Counselling Services Australia | DIPAC

Note: Most of us have not had the best role models for modelling effective communication in a relationship.

Reminder:  Walk and Talk is back- Connection with nature: Spending time outdoors has proven mental health benefits, including stress reduction, mood improvement, and increased feelings of connectedness and well-being. Walk and talk therapy enables individuals to directly experience these advantages, establishing a deeper connection with the natural world.

It’s important to acknowledge that walk and talk therapy might not suit everyone or all therapeutic needs. Physical limitations might prevent certain individuals from participating, while others may prefer the privacy and structure of a conventional therapy setting.

Counselling Therapy sessions last 60 minutes, while Walk and Talk Therapy offers flexibility. You can opt for a full 60-minute walk or split the session into a 30-minute therapy office session and a 30-minute outdoor segment.

Our walk can be a leisurely stroll or a brisker pace, depending on your preference.

Please note: Weather conditions permitting.

In 2017 I was interviewed by Business Insider…post Covid I think we need to revisit these issues.

Read the original article on Business Insider Australia. Copyright 2017. Follow Business Insider Australia on Twitter.

  • When you’ve reached a peak point of your career but don’t know how to move forward, you’re on a “career ledge.”
  • It’s becoming more common amid rising expectations of universities and professional associations, high competition for graduate roles and increasing pressure on businesses to perform in the globalized economy.
  • It’s possible to inch yourself over the ledge, but you’ll have to make an effort.

While career burnout is a more common issue, “career ledging” is a lesser-known phenomenon but widespread across industries and roles.

“Many people are suffering from career ledging,” says Darleen Barton, corporate therapist, author, and founder and managing director of success consultancy businesses, DIPAC.

And while it is detrimental to the future success of a person’s career path, “very little is being done to address these issues and support workers on a national level,” according to Barton.

“Stuck on a career ledge is where a high achiever has reached a peak point in their career or as I like to say ‘reached the top of their tree’ and they just don’t know how to move forward from where they are sitting,” says Barton. “Their ‘high achiever attributes’ have helped them get to where they are, but they don’t have the skill set to work out where to from there, or how to maintain the momentum at that peak level. High achievers stuck on a career ledge often step into ‘self sabotage’ mode and become disruptive, even start quarrelling with colleagues.”

She continued: “Incidentally, I also use the term ‘glass ledge’ to describe the situation many women find themselves – when they are in senior roles and are constantly overlooked for CEO and board positions.”

Barton explains that career ledging is becoming more common amid rising expectations of universities and professional associations, high competition for graduate roles and increasing pressure on businesses to perform in the globalized economy.

In fact, Australian graduates are facing particularly tough conditions this year when it comes to landing their dream job with Adzuna estimating that 22 graduates will compete for every job opening in the months ahead. That’s a 22 to 1 chance.

To ensure the problem doesn’t manifest further, Barton says businesses have to “start with facing the facts”.

“Sometimes life can be hard enough, but with additional stress with long days in the same career/field of study, it can lead to extreme pressure and stress,” she says.

“The more open workplaces and society are about the toll that your work life may have on you individually, the easier individuals will find it to seek support, discuss their concerns and find ways to find guidance.

“Businesses need to take responsibility for their success and their people… [and] they need to evaluate the standards and expectations they have set for employees. Are these viable?

“Whilst progress is important, ensuring the stability, happiness and health of your team should be a top priority also. Acknowledge the hard work of staff, ensure you’re openly communicating with your team and offering initiatives that show personal support.

Most importantly, Barton says “invest in your people.”

“Research and ample data shows that businesses that invest in their people, retain their people and minimise turnover. Long-term clients like to deal with long-term staff.”

Barton says these strategies that can assist in bolstering leadership experience, profile growth and forming and expanding critical networks:

Consolidate external leadership experience

“This can be done in the form of board appointments and advisory roles.

“Many NFPs are always looking for dynamic, forward thinking and motivated board members to steer their organisations through growth. Many NFPs are connected with a large section of the community and the corporate sector.

“Board experience, whether it be NFP or corporate, is essential to building leadership experience.”

Connect with key networks and professional associations

“Find opportunities to participate in member panels, working groups, and other initiatives. This experience builds contacts, involves you in industry issues and develops your profile.”

Source opportunities to speak and develop your skills as a speaker and industry expert

“Whether it be through your alumni, business networks, or conference organisers, this helps to develop your profile and also fine tune your experience in speaking on issues of interest to your industry.”

Seek out mentors known for their willingness to support, nurture, assist and professionally develop

“Mentors play a key role in providing support, guidance and feedback – as well as becoming important referees.”

Ensure you’re in the right frame of mind

“Mindfulness is a key ingredient to personal success. We need to be in the right head space when managing ourselves, our career, our decisions and our life generally.

“Confidence is also a key part of this. Confidence is infectious – it breeds positive energy and gives others a sense of hope, action, progress and comfort. These things matter when meeting and liaising with others.

“Confident people leave a positive impression on others. If you are not confident in yourself, other people won’t be either. Give people a reason to be confident in you – be confident in yourself.”

Read the original article on Business Insider Australia. Copyright 2017. Follow Business Insider Australia on Twitter.

Are you not feeling heard? Is your partner defensive?

Defensiveness in a relationship can manifest in various ways, and it often occurs when one or both partners feel attacked, criticised, or misunderstood. Dr. John Gottman, a renowned relationship expert, has extensively researched and written about the destructive nature of defensiveness in relationships.

Here are some examples of defensive behaviours in a relationship:

1.     Denial of Responsibility: When one partner refuses to take responsibility for their actions, they might respond defensively by denying any wrongdoing. For example, if Partner A says, “You never help with the housework,” and Partner B responds with, “I do help, you just don’t notice,” they are deflecting responsibility.

2.     Counterattacking: This involves responding to a partner’s complaint or criticism with a counter-criticism. For instance, if Partner A says, “You were rude to me in front of our friends,” and Partner B responds with, “Well, you embarrassed me last week,” they are not addressing the issue but deflecting blame.

3.     Playing the Victim: Someone might play the victim card by making themselves the target of sympathy rather than addressing their partner’s concerns. For instance, if Partner A expresses frustration about being ignored, and Partner B responds with, “I can never do anything right; you’re always mad at me,” they are avoiding accountability.

4.     Explaining and Justifying: Instead of acknowledging their actions or mistakes, a defensive partner may launch into a lengthy explanation or justification for their behaviour. This can make the other partner feel unheard or invalidated.

5.     Cross-Complaining: When one partner responds to a complaint with another complaint, it creates a cycle of unproductive communication. For example, if Partner A says, “You didn’t call me when you said you would,” and Partner B responds with, “Well, you forgot to pick up the groceries yesterday,” it leads to further frustration.

Dr. John Gottman’s research suggests that defensiveness is one of the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” in relationships, which are behaviours that can predict the demise of a partnership if left unaddressed. He emphasises the importance of recognising and addressing defensiveness because it often escalates conflicts rather than resolving them.

To overcome defensiveness, Dr. Gottman recommends several strategies:

1.     Take a Break: If you feel yourself becoming defensive, it’s okay to take a break from the conversation. This can help you cool down and collect your thoughts before responding.

2.     Active Listening: Make an effort to truly listen to your partner’s perspective without interrupting or immediately offering a counter-argument. Validate their feelings and experiences.

3.     Use “I” Statements: Instead of saying, “You make me feel this way,” express your feelings with “I” statements like, “I feel hurt when this happens.” This approach is less accusatory and encourages understanding.

4.     Accept Responsibility: When you make a mistake, acknowledge it and apologise. Taking responsibility for your actions can defuse defensiveness and open the door to productive communication.

5.     Seek Compromise: Work together to find solutions to issues rather than engaging in a blame game. Compromise and collaboration can help build a healthier relationship.

In summary, defensiveness in a relationship is a counterproductive response to conflict that can lead to further problems. Dr. John Gottman’s research emphasises the importance of addressing and mitigating defensiveness to maintain a healthy and successful partnership.