Sometimes in our travels we come upon something that seemed initially like just one more place to visit, only in retrospect to reveal itself as absolutely key to our understanding of the world and our place in it. I remember a few such transforming experiences in my life. My travels over the theoretical landscape of making sense of our children and ourselves as been similar in this regard. Initially it seemed to me that the subject of dependence was only one of a myriad of topics that pertained to today’s parenting and teaching. The deeper my immersion into the material however, the more convinced I became that our thinking about dependence couldn’t be more singularly pivotal, at the very core of our interactions with our children and indeed, our loved ones. Changes in parenting or teaching would not be truly effective and often not even stick unless these actions emanated from a deep invitation to our dependants to truly depend upon us.
I have also become convinced that being too direct or instrumental in our interactions with our children – goal-focused or outcome-focused as it were – has been our undoing in today’s society. We seem to have no reticence whatsoever in revealing what is on our mind concerning them, or what we want from them, or even what we have in mind for them. I have come to know Nature as deeply shy regarding its work and purpose, resisting exposure lest such consciousness sabotage the very conditions that are necessary to realize the desired results. I am sure this is why Nature disguises itself as ‘play’, for example, giving the illusion that it is ‘up to nothing in particular,’ so that it has the room it needs to work its developmental magic. As Nature’s agents in the lives of our children, it should be no different for us.
We have eschewed the dependence of our children for far too long now – for generations if not centuries, especially in so-called enlightened societies – with societal results that are deeply concerning. It is high time to return to our senses – that is, to trust and to lean upon the spontaneous and benevolent life force that is yearning to bring to potential our children, and through them, a society that is not crippled by immaturity.
Editor’s note: The Wisdom of Dependence was the topic of this year’s annual conference in April of this year. Dr. Neufeld only had enough time to share a small portion of the material he had prepared on this topic. Given the timely and critical importance of this subject, we decided to walk it out this Fall in a series of four webinars which include a short presentation by Dr. Neufeld followed by a panel discussion where he is joined by a few of the Neufeld Institute faculty. We invite you to watch this short preview video and join us for the entire series.