Great article by Gabor Mate

Here’s a link to a great article – unlike most articles about parenting, in which I tend to disagree with at least some of what’s written (and often a lot more than just some!), I thought this one was dead on. 

That’s not surprising, I suppose, since the person being interviewed was Dr. Gabor Mate, coauthor of Hold On To Your Kids, whose view on parenting seems quite similar to mine.  This is the best parenting book that I’ve read in the last five or six years, and even though some find it hard to get through, I thought it was excellent and have recommended it to a lot of people.  It was the first  book that I ever read that I felt supported my way of parenting – a foundation of lots of love with clear boundaries, recognizing that parents must be the primary love figure in a child’s life to have any real power to effectively parent.   

This article touches on some very powerful ideas regarding addiction, attachment, ADD, parenting, bullying, the school system – lots of things worth thinking about!


3 thoughts on “Great article by Gabor Mate

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed the article and shared it on Facebook. Here is what a “friend” of mine responded:

    What a terrible article. This man is little better than Kanner and Bettelheim (;, both of whom long before put forth the theory that childhood disorders are caused by bad mothers and bad parenting. This article is dangerous, and this “doctor” is dangerous, because he adds just a small element of “science” to make his unfounded accusations and personal theories sound legitimate. They are not. There’s ample scientific evidence that far more than “stressed mothers” with “postpartum depression” and “working parents” are to blame for all of society’s ills. If he even bothered to refer to the thousands of these journal articles, written by psychologists that actually do clinical trials instead of throwing out accusations, I might be more inclined to believe he wasn’t a quack.

    Aside from the fact that the virulence of her attack left me feeling rather hurt and confused, I’m interested to see what your response would be to such negative views on the attachment theories in general. Thanks!

  2. What’s interesting is that he also seems to support the theory that autism is caused by “refrigerator parents.”

    He says “The child’s brain development depends on the presence of non-stressed, emotionally available parents. In this country, that’s less and less available. Hence, you’ve got burgeoning rates of autism in this country. It’s going up like 20- or 30-fold in the last 30 or 40 years.”

    1. Interesting article, Adina. I wouldn’t exactly call it comprehensive or reliable, as he relies on unsubstantiated accusations, but I got the gist of where the author was going. I wonder when I read ‘articles’ like this what the point is.

      The challenge when discussing the developmental needs of children, what happens when they are met and what happens when they aren’t, is how to do so without the knee-jerk defensive reaction of parents feeling they’re being told that anything their child does wrong is because of their inadequacy. I feel understanding development is about empowerment and proactivity for a parent, when we understand the nature of our children’s needs, then we can parent them from a position of strength and clarity. When you’re doing the best you can, there’s no room for guilt in parenting.

      In the interview Dr. Mate certainly wasn’t blaming all of society’s ills on bad parents but rather discussing the legitimate stresses that parents face in trying to parent well at this time in history. His perspective was regarding parenting so that’s what he wrote about. But obviously there are other factors involved in rasing children; someone with a medical perspective would share his thoughts from that angle. The perspective is incomplete because he can’t share about every possible contributing factr, but that doesn’t render it invalid.

      While I agree with the principles put forth regarding the importance of parenting well, I wouldn’t go to an extreme in applying them as black and white absolutisms.

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