Babies need to ‘attach’ to their parents. They need to know and trust that you are there for them. They will bond to you during this time as you provide positive stimuli such as cuddling, smiling, engaging and attention, and also as you consistently provide relief of discomfort such as prompt feeding, changing soiled diapers and providing appropriate sleep environment.
A secure early relationship helps to set a tone and pattern for future relationships. The secure relationship helps to reduce anxiety, establish trust, build self-confidence, and provide a base for exploratory behaviors. Without this security there is vulnerability, dependence and emotional instability. We begin with the initial parental bond and let other attachment relationships emerge on our journey. (Bowlby, 2005)
Attachment is a wonderful gift you can give your child to ensure a future of trust and love. Take time, be present in the moment with your child, interact socially with them, be trustworthy, hold them close and be there as they venture out to discover the world. Give them the gift of self esteem. “what happens, right or wrong, in the critical first two years of a baby’s life will imprint that child as an adult”. What if a baby does not attach?...If bonding and attachment does not occur, it can lead to a relational disorder called ‘borderline personality’, which carries with it the core wound of abandonment and affects a person’s whole life, making it difficult for them to form any relationships… “a child may develop mistrust and a deep seated rage and become a child without a conscience”. (Magid 1989) It is within our ability as parents to make sure this does not happen…God helping us.
“Good enough parenting” is when our children are appropriately relationally attached to us. It is an intangible soul thing.
Good enough parenting is not only about providing things, toys, games, trips, the latest, although those are fun to give and are delightful. It is about giving ourselves, knitting our souls, creating attachment for our children.
A good friend who had a son in juvenile detention said she wished someone had told her this…when her son was a baby she had thought that if he was quiet and not asking for attention (i.e. fed, bathed, changed and quiet), then that was all there was to good mothering. No one ever told her about cuddling him and attaching emotionally.
When kids attach to their parents they have an internalized trust object. From this they mature to an appropriate sense of self, mirrored by their parents, made possible by trust.
If they are unattached at this age, it can lead to narcissism, where a person is looking for a sense of self and becomes totally self absorbed, needy, vulnerable, grandiose with no limits and often trying to attach to people who they perceive to have power.
Note to parents: If you find yourself in this description, remember that if you ‘attach’ to God as your Father, He will help you find your sense of self again so that you have health to pass on to your child.
Praying together helps us to attach. Meal prayer: Dear Jesus, Bless (whoever is there: mommy, daddy, me, etc.) and thanks for the food. Amen (you can make it fun if everyone at the table raises their hands together when they say Amen).
Eating together helps us to attach. Some studies have suggested that eating together also helps to attach kids to their family and helps them do well in school and life.
Playing together helps us to attach. Kids learn social interaction and trust when they play with their parents.