When I consider the massive positive response to Nonviolent Resistance throughout the world, I can attribute this to the fact that we probably succeeded in addressing the massive challenge facing parents today.
Children are flooded with a torrent of temptations never witnessed before. The dangers reach children at all hours of the day and night, in the streets, at school, on TV and on their smartphones.
Moreover, children have more ways of hiding and ducking beneath the parental radar than ever before. Big cities offer children anonymity and hiding places. Also, the right to privacy has become a screen to hide from their parents. Parents who try to protect their children are often met with angry cries: “It’s my room!” “It’s my money!” “They’re my friends!” No parent can stay indifferent to such cries.
When our children are in danger, there has been a drastic drop in parental status. Parents are weaker, first of all, because they are lonelier. Parents today are significantly less supported by grandparents, siblings and neighbours. The rate of divorce and single-parent families has risen sharply. Today’s small family is increasingly isolated in its own apartment. A well-known proverb says, “it takes a whole village to raise a child.” But where can we find that village in the world of today?
Parents are weaker because the means of authority they once had have been taken away from them. It is a positive process in its own right – after all, corporal punishment and achieving obedience through force are very bad things. However, parents have not received the means to replace them.
Another sweeping cause of weakness is the internet. In the past, parents were the source of wisdom. Today it is the internet. Sometimes parents try to yank their children’s devices out of their hands, among other reasons, as a punishment. They say, “it’s the only punishment that works.” The problem is that it doesn’t work and that parents are unable to sustain it.
This is the challenge: endless drift that afflicts all children and parental weakening on all fronts.
For many years I worked with hundreds of students, researchers and colleagues in North America, Europe, Israel and worldwide to develop an appropriate response to the crisis facing us. All of my books and studies lead to a single image: the parental anchor. Against the sweeping drift, parents must find a way to anchor themselves to their “parental ground” to serve as anchors for their children. The parental anchor guarantees that the child will have a present and stable parent and not be left adrift in flood. My ultimate goal is to help parents reclaim the role of anchor.
The leading psychological theory of child development today is attachment theory. This theory says that parents do not simply educate their children (in the sense of turning them into educated children) but provide them with a stable and loving relationship in which the child can grow up well. The parents must be acceptant and loving. That’s crucial for a positive attachment.
However, the parents must also be strong and stable. If we think of the loving parents as a harbour, then the anchor gives the harbour stability. Children need the parental anchor so as not to be swept away by currents or by the tempting songs of the mermaids. When parents function as anchors, they provide their children not only with attention, encouragement and love but also with stability and security.
So this is our vision in a nutshell: Parents must become an anchor to stop the dangerous drift. Our approach shows the way to realize this vision.