Just thinking of writing about attachment—I don’t want to. Have you ever avoided something—really avoided it–the way you avoid touching a throbbing tooth?
I avoid music written in a minor key, and books, shows and movies that end in separation or death.
So I am exercising, watching A Far Off Place, and wondering if I have enough chocolate chips to make cookies.
I remember watching this show over 25 years ago. Reese Witherspoon played Nannie Parker, a girl whose parents were killed by poachers. To escape them, she with two friends crossed the Kalahari Desert on foot. Col. Mopani Theron, played by Maximillian Schell, never gives up searching for her.
Re-watching the movie, I realize that Col. Theron only appeared a few times, but it was because of his concerned, protective presents that I enjoyed the movie–his appearing in scenes here and there to remind me that someone cared about her.
Then I didn’t know that the emptiness I felt was attachment trauma. While I write this, I have to be careful that I don’t slip into that abyss.
I wish I could write about what attachment feels like. But if I could, I would not write this. It’s because I didn’t experience it that I hope to help parents create a secure connection with their children. I know where life can spiral down to without it and have studied where it can soar to with it.
Attachment means that you are there for your children when they fall down and skin their knees. You are there when they strike out and when they hit a grand slam. You are there when their best friend moves away or they are scared of the dark. You empathize with them, instead of telling them they have no reason to feel sad or afraid or distracting them with technology or a cookie.
You are there when they are so upset they can hardly breath, so you calmly breath for them until their heaving shoulders and sobs calm, and you can comfort them. You are there for them even when your own sirens are sounding and you want to run away or tell them their problems don’t exist so snap out of it.
When you are there enough they will trust you and believe that you will not abandon them in their joy, problems or pain. They value their self-worth because you have shown them how important they are by your taking out time for them. They are comfortable in relationships and make friends because you have demonstrated the blessings and joy of connection. They are more willing to face challenges, because they know that you will be there if they need you. They experience less stress and trauma because you’ve overcome adversity in the past, so instead of seeing a crisis, they will see a challenge to over come.
One of the best things you can do for your children is to be there for them. You don’t have to be a perfect parent—no parent can be. If you are focused on being a perfect parent, you are not focused on your children; rather you are consumed with being flawless.
You don’t have to meet their every need—no parent can. If you try, they will grow up with the center of the universe syndrome: thinking that they are more important than anyone or anything else.
You just have to be good enough to meet their emotional needs about 30% of the time.
Children who have secure attachments grow up to be happier, healthier more confident and empathetic adults who have happy, successful relationships.