We often talk about kids, and for many, trying to imagine these little toddlers in their adulthood is a hard task. This article is about adults; they may be your friends or colleagues, siblings or partners, and they all carry behavioral and emotional patterns rooted deep in their childhood.
Almost everyone I’ll talk to would have an idea of what Attachment Parenting is, but most seem to have it all wrong. For most, this “parenting style” is about co-sleeping and baby-wearing, and some might even include baby-led weaning. But attachment parenting can’t just be “replaced” with another “parenting style” when the child celebrates her third birthday. Attachment Parenting is a decision made for a lifetime; a decision to always put the relationship, the needs and feelings of all family members in the center of all happenings.
Hi Buddy! What’s Your Attachment Style?
Numerous studies have shown the effects that children’s relationships with their parents during the first years have on their adult lives, in terms of relationships (romantic or not), professional mastery, personal image and various other aspects.
So let’s take a look at some people you already know:
You know her, that lady from the office next door. The one who is constantly sure she will be fired tomorrow, that one who finds every word someone says to be a complaint about here; that one who is so eager to please that she takes everything to extremely high levels. Do you know her?
If she had to describe herself, she’d say that she has a very positive view of others, but not so much of herself. She would say that she is constantly seeking intimacy and attachment, yet others are reluctant to join in her visions of what an intimate relationship is. She wants a close relationship badly, but she’s worried she’s not as worthy as her peers. She might feel anxious all along, but that anxiety will whither when the subject of her attachment will arrive. She’s insecure of herself and her abilities, she seeks the validation of others, she’s moved by fear. Does she sound familiar?
I’m sure you know this guy! He’s very likely to be your boss. You know, that guy who always thinks he knows best, who values himself much more than he values anyone else. That guy who will always do what HE thinks is the right thing to do, even though the world already proved him wrong multiple times.
He’s not looking for a relationship; his independence and self-reliance mean more than anything to him. He hides his feelings and even pretends to just not have any. He’ll deal with rejection by rejecting the source of rejection and will say it was all his choice. He is comfortable on his own and would prefer others to depend on him than to depend on someone else. Do you know this guy?
I’m not sure that you know this girl, but maybe you do. That girl who doesn’t trust herself, nor does she trust anyone else around her, leaving her in a constant state of “why bother”? She wants an intimate relationship but she’s worried that getting too close will eventually hurt her. She’s uncomfortable with closeness, emotional or otherwise, since she doesn’t trust anyone’s intentions. This combination of wanting and disbelieving leaves her forever stuck in her own shell. She’ll deny her feelings and won’t be so eager to express affection of any sort. She’ll shy from confrontations to the extent of avoiding people and challenges. Do you know her?
I’m sure you know these guys, they are everywhere. These are the men who are comfortable being dependent and having others depend on them. These are the women who easily create sustainable relationships. They don’t worry about being alone, nor do they fear others not accepting them. They work hard, they’re not afraid to take on new challenges and responsibilities, they deal with things as they come up, but they feel comfortable saying “no” when requests don’t meet their needs. They trust their capability and they trust their surrounding to properly respond to them. I really hope this one is you! Is it?
All Attachment Styles Are OKAY, But…
About 56% of people in the world are living the life of secure attachment, about 20% are anxious, 23% are dismissive avoidant, and the remaining 1% is fearful avoidant. None of these attachment styles are deemed healthy or not healthy, none is “okay” or “not okay”. These are not judgmental terms, but purely descriptive observations. However, we cannot argue with the fact that life is easier, and more enjoyable for the securely attached; can we?
Our Child’s Attachment Style – Our Choice
Now that we’ve described these toddlers in some 20 or 30 years from now, we need to be mindful of the fact that these result from decisions taken by us, parents.
Parents who are courageous enough to take this decision and to constantly respond to their children’s attachment behaviors (which are all behaviors, really) will raise children who trust themselves, their parents, and the world. Children who will have less inhibitions when it comes to romantic, friendly or working relationships, children who are not afraid to lead, nor are they afraid to follow. Children who thrive in society, in a relationship, in a group, but also – on their own.
What is a parenting relationship if not the model of all future relationships?
All Parenting is Attachment Parenting
Since all people of this world fall into one of these four attachment styles, we can say that all parenting styles are attachment parenting, but surely, secure attachment is what we want to see in our children. So here are a few points, to avoid and to take:
Children of Anxious-Preoccupied attachment are children to parents who are:
- Sometimes present and sometimes absent (in response and reaction)
- Available and rewarding at times, unavailable at others
- Looking at their children as means to have their own needs met (rather than the other way around)
- Emotionally hungry to the extent of draining the child with their expectations
Children of Avoidant-Dismissive Attachment are children to parents who are:
- Meeting their basic needs yet incapable of dealing with emotional needs
- Stray away from requests to connect
- Remain emotionally distant even when they are close
Children of Fearful-Avoidant Attachment are children to parents who are:
- Unpredictable in their reactions (same behaviors lead to different outcomes depending on the parent’s state of mind)
- Using fear-driven strategies as methods to discipline
- Using emotional withdrawal as means of punishment
Children of Secure Attachment are children to parents who are:
- Meeting their basic needs as well as their emotional needs
- Able to regulate their own feelings and reactions in response to the child
- Show compassion and empathy during painful moments
- Accept the child for whatever lives in her in a given moment
- Are always emotionally present
So Who Would You Like Your Child to Be, 20 Years from Now?
Our parents didn’t have the knowledge allowing them to make the choices we can make today.
While parenting is always a strategy, the needs this strategy will meet are up to us, parents. All human being are walking bundles of needs, met or unmet. This doesn’t change, no matter how old one is. And although creating secure attachments is indeed possible at any moment in time, it is much easier and significantly more beneficial to build this building right from the start.
Accept my invitation, if it suits you, and join my parenting support group on Facebook right here. If you feel that the connection, attachment, between you and the ones you love most was lost along the way – let me help you. It’s never to late 🙂 I’m now offering a full month of unlimited parent coaching, that will put your parenting relationship back on track!
I use the model of Nonviolent Communication to distill and address the needs and feelings of all family members, to have everyone’s needs met and to reconnect on the deepest levels. The family life you are dreaming about is, actually, right here 🙂