Hunches On Childhood (Or Everything I Want To Say About World Peace) by Kent T. Hoffman

(This article was published in Sun Magazine in 1988)

I’m a psychologist that is to say I’m an archaeologist and a midwife to the human soul and I believe after many years of doing this work is that what happens has a radical and root effect on all that we experience there after.

  1. We love because we first loved.
  2. We fail to love because we ourselves were failed early on.  It is difficult to give what we didn’t get.
  3. Our degree of relationship to the world around us, to others, to intimacy, is established in the first years of our life in relation to our parents and our family.  In relation to our mother.  Mothering is not supporting in this culture.  Mothering, nuturance, community, relationship is dangerous because it reminds us of our dependance and the limitations of the ones upon whom we were dependant.
  4. The way we were treated as small children is the way we will treat ourselves and others the rest of our lives. With tenderness and support, with neglect and cruelty or with something in-between.
  5. Few of us have a batting average of even two hits out of ten when it comes to treating ourselves with tenderness and support. 
  6. Each person is infinitely precious, of infinite worth, that is worthy of infinite tenderness and support.  Nowhere is this more obvious in a parent than in the life of a young child.
  7. To have grown up in the industrialized society means that we are, each of us, wounded in ways that we do not yet comprehend.  Unless we grieve and thus release these wounds, we will pass them on to the next generation.
  8. The central wound of early childhood is abandonment. 
  9. Children are exceptionally sensitive, that is fragile.  Children (we) are also very resilient.  There in lies the problem. We do bounce back early on from woundings and to the naked eye we appear to have gone on, beyond the wound - and we have.  We’ve also stayed right there at the scene of the crime.  Depending on how deep the wound or abandonment we make certain that we return again and again until we can somehow get it right.
  10. it is difficult to support children in a context that doesn’t support us.  Industrialized economy, financial anxieties, sexism, racism, meritocracy, dysfunctional families, aggression, ambition - not to mention genetics and acts of nature.  All of these as well as the painfully slow process of parents freeing themselves from their wounds of their past interact.  All of them affect the next generation.
  11. In spite of our wounds, there is at our core, a truth that cannot be extinguished.  It has wisdom and tenacity and love.  It can be lost and forgotten but never destroyed.
  12. Less violent cultures (Hopi, Eskimo, Kalahari) appear to prioritize early childhood practices that encourage confidence at the core of children and thus they create a less violent society. 
  13. The future of the planet is impart dependant on establishing the raising healthy children as the central priority.
  14. They way we hold our children is the way we hold our future.