Childhood and Parenthood

As Alison Gopnik notes in The Philosophical Baby, the dependent stage of childhood presupposes the care-giving parent. The exploratory and experimental stage in development requires sustaining and supporting adults, protecting the child and putting their own interests second. This practical altruism is at the root of Adler’s Gemeinschaftsgefühl, usually translated as community feeling or social interest. Where this is fully developed it extends to an interest in the welfare of all. The child too has the rudiments of this feeling, both in the need for contact and in its interest in other people. The child senses that its security depends on the community feeling.

Defeating, undermining or weakening this bond is the self-centred, self-concerned impulse of the adult. Where this frustration of the bond is deep, the child feels the vulnerability of its world and seeks to defend it. Seeing life as a field of danger, the child finds and elaborates a system of defence.

About Harry Dowling

Born 1946 in Liverpool
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