Attachment Plays a Big Role in Your Relationship With Your Child — Here's How to Know If Yours Is Healthy
As a marriage and family therapist who practiced for a little over five years (LMFT, MA MFT) and a mama, I've always been interested in the subject of attachment. Throughout my work as a therapist, I've witnessed the importance of forming a healthy attachment with your child, so when my daughter was born, creating this healthy bond with her was my number one goal. Unhealthy attachment impacts self-esteem, your notion of trust, and your ability to rely on yourself and others. In other words, the small concept of the parent-child bond can touch all areas of an individual's life during childhood and adulthood.
Think of it this way: A child's relationship with their parent is their first taste of safety, love, and comfort outside the womb. If these aren't received consistently by the child, it can negatively shift their view of themselves, as well as what choices they make as they become adults. Research suggests that adults who were raised with unhealthy attachments are likely to form similarly unhealthy connections with their partners. These internalized notions of trust, safety, and love can also impact their relationship with their offspring, if they opt to have a child or children.
When delving into this tricky topic, first and foremost it's important to understand what your relationship style was like with your parents. This can help you gain insight into your relationship with your child or children. To identify your pattern with your parent(s), think about if you felt safe going to them when you were distressed, if you avoided them, or if you felt like you couldn't consistently rely on them. If more often than not you felt safe and trusted them, chances are you grew up in a healthy and consistent household. If not, you may have experienced an unhealthy connection with your caregivers.
Keep reading to better understand what attachment style your child has with you, and bear in mind that there are concrete ways to connect with your children and show them that you are consistently there for them, even if they are exhibiting some signs of having an unhealthy bond with you. While patterns can be difficult to shift, it is not impossible. Know that you can always reach out to a counselor or therapist if you'd like extra guidance in creating a healthier relationship with your little one.