the attachment village

14 September 2007
Queen Anne houses
photo: Amy Smith

In Hold On to Your Kids, Gordon Neufeld describes attachment villages as places where children are attached to their parents and through that attachment, connected to other adults; where values are passed from adults to children; where extended families live nearby and children are part of community where all generations participate in cultural activities. Since attachment villages generally no longer exist naturally, he suggests that we need to re-create them consciously, so that our children grow up surrounded by caring adults.

I’ve given some thought to what this means for my family. One thing it has meant is that I have begun scheduling regular time for my daughter and me to spend with family friends. I have chosen people to see regularly who have similar parenting values, who care about my daughter, whose children I care about, and with whom I want to be close. I’m considering how and whether to expand this effort. As much as I want many strong connections for my daughter and value the friendships for myself, I also want to preserve some unstructured time in our lives.

I’ve discussed with other families how we might build connections as whole families, including members who are working during the day. This is something I struggle with, as I don’t know how to balance getting enough time with my own family and having time with others. We’re protective of the time we have as a family, since there’s relatively little of it. We see some friends socially, but not often enough or consciously enough to build those connections.

Another piece of village building for me has been strengthening ties with extended family. I have some family that I value greatly, but who live at quite a distance. As a result, I used to visit them only every few years. When my daughter was born, I started traveling with her to see them each year for a couple of weeks. I also have put a great deal of thought and energy into how to improve my own attachments to my parents and parents-in-law to support the attachment that my daughter has to them.

your market
photo: Amy Smith

Finally, I’ve been thinking about the people who are less immediately part of our lives, but nevertheless part of our community. This part is sometimes challenging to me, since I am socially reserved. We’ve recently moved, and I’ve decided that I want to know families who live nearby. We introduce ourselves to people at the park and on walks. I’m connecting to more neighborhood moms through a neighborhood email group. Meg and I shop at the farmers’ market each week, and I’ve been making the effort to learn the names of people from whom we regularly buy our food, and learn more about them and their farms. I’ve worked directly with a farm to create a community supported agriculture program for buying our meat, and we’ve connected with that farming family. We buy from small businesses in my neighborhood and introduce ourselves and talk to the owners.

My aim is to create a context of caring adults in which to raise my girl. How do you create your attachment village?

One Response to “the attachment village”

  1. 1 Rachel Stumme
    November 7th, 2007 at 12:30 pm

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this, Jenni. Your idea of scheduling time with other families you feel a kindred spirit with is interesting. It’s something I do from time to time, but I haven’t done it with a community-building intention. I don’t see any of my friends as much as I would like to, so perhaps going into a plain ol’ social visit with a focus on building a community around my family would help those visits feel more like we were investing in our relationships and less like we were just catching up with each other.

    I’ve been thinking that our “community” has to be in our neighborhood, and I’ve had a hard time feeling like it’s coming together where we live. No one really talks to each other. You are absolutely right – it doesn’t have to be a geographical thing. Thanks for expanding the definition.