Parenting Toward Autonomy

Overcoming Parent-Child Codependence


The mission of this site is to render parents, and the great public, sensitive to the need of children to grow into autonomy.

Autonomy is fundamental for every being-in-growth.

Without autonomy, there is fusion, symbiosis and dependence. While for certain organisms, such as the human newborn, symbiosis for a certain time is a biological necessity, this symbiosis is time-bound and should gradually give rise to autonomy. While natural symbiosis is needed for the first eighteen months of the newborn, it should gradually come to an end after that period. Unfortunately, modern culture is more or less completely dysfunctional regarding this primal movement from fusion to autonomy that should take place, dynamically, in the growth process of the human baby.

What happens is that the necessary biological symbiosis with the mother, eighteen months from birth, is neglected for various reasons; many babies suffer from a more or less stringent tactile deprivation that will leave scars for their whole lives. In order to compensate for the lack of care bestowed upon the infant, as a guilt-reaction and for various other reasons, the post-symbiosis condition is not better for the child: instead of growing into autonomy most children in our culture grow into codependence with their parents and caretakers; instead of building a gradually larger extent of autonomy, parents tend to gradually entangle their children in a tight net of stiffening dependencies.

A naturally raised child is typically more independent and more autonomous than a child who is rarely touched, or lacks affection and has become neurotic. The frequently observed clinging behavior of modern city children, their helpless, clumsy and irresponsible behavior, even as late as when approaching puberty, their immaturity in handling sharp or fragile objects such as knives or glasses show well their neurotic blockage and codependent entanglement with their parents.

There is a natural striving for autonomy built into every growing life. A child of three years of age needs more autonomy than a child of fifteen months of age. For example, a toddler of eighteen months needs more autonomy than a baby of five months. Many parents ignore that babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers, already before reaching the age of primary school, need to develop autonomy.

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