What if you didn’t need a specific book or behavior management technique to help prepare your child to go out in this world? What if it wasn’t something you did, but a way you could be with your child?
I’ll admit, the world is scary these days. I don’t argue this point at all, as a mom of two amazing boys. However, I feel that there is a way to help our children go out into the world and make it better, rather than add to the pain. Even adults can utilize this path to improve and heal our own relationships with other adults. The path I speak of is called “secure attachment.”
Secure attachment is the ability to have autonomy and connection. It means being able to handle your emotions both by yourself and in the care of others. It means you are able to have fulfilling relationships throughout your life.
We are all hardwired for connection. Not one of us is immune to the need to be connected or attached to another in this world. It is the way our species has survived thus far. We are living in a time where we can look back over the past 5 or more decades of attachment research to see this. We are also able to list benefits of a secure attachment, not the least of which is increased physical health. We are even luckier to have scientific advances that let us see how our brain operates in relationship. The time is now for us to bring this all together into a way of being.
As I continue to learn and deepen my knowledge about attachment through my work as a mental health counselor and a Circle of Security Parenting Facilitator, I am finding that the way through the turmoil we are witnessing in our world is by working on our relationships first. Through my work, I am learning about the importance of secure attachment firsthand. I see the pain of my clients who did not receive a secure attachment, then unconsciously pass this pain onto their own children. Pain, unmet needs…they don’t disappear. They cannot be willed or worked away. They hang around being expressed in even more painful ways. Without a secure attachment, we develop a deep sense of pain that we then try to get rid of or cover up.
Consciously or unconsciously, we have needs that we are always seeking to meet. Children who receive a secure attachment early in life grow up knowing that most problems have an answer and that they can lean on others when they need to. A secure attachment provides the ability to know how to be a kind person in this world and to trust that there is good in life. When we are securely attached, we no longer look at the world as a desolate place where our pain is only magnified. We understand that we have a place here, and our pain is not too big to handle. We don’t turn to violence inwardly or outwardly to try to manage the overwhelm of emotions. We have confidence that we are okay even when we don’t always feel that way in the moment.
I’m passionate about the importance of attachment, but what does this mean in practice? How do we proceed once the importance of attachment has been acknowledged? We get real, we get reflective and we get real tender with ourselves. Then, we look to the people who have done the work of putting secure attachment into a real-life way of being. The Circle of Security Parenting series gives you a map for understanding your child’s needs (not to mention the needs of all humans) and lays out the path for a secure attachment. The authors of this groundbreaking work stand on the shoulders of the pioneers of decades of attachment research. From these shoulders, they created a usable way for parents, caregivers, and all humans to see and begin working towards a secure attachment.
For more information and a list of facilitators in your area, visit the Circle of Security website, where you can also sign up for a class or find a trained therapist to guide you. I highly recommend grabbing a copy of the recently published book, Raising A Secure Child, by the authors of Circle of Security Parenting, Kent Hoffman, Bert Powell, and Glen Cooper.
Here’s to giving our children (and ourselves) a way to handle life’s challenges with resilience. Here’s to a new lens that allows us to have hope for healing in our world.