Six ways to improve the relationship with your entrusted ones
In the last Article we saw the first three ways of attaching. We talked about Physical proximity, Sameness and Belonging & Loyalty. Here we go for the ways of attaching through Significance, feeling and being known:
“This way of pursuing closeness and connection is to seek significance, which means that we feel we matter to somebody. To be dear to someone is to ensure closeness and connection. “
Reading these lines it hit me how much I can observe just that in the life of my kids!
How many times have we seen the countenance of our children lightening up, simply because we smiled at them. Or, because we told them that we are proud of them. Or because we cheered for them when they were able to do something for the first time.
Lately, I was in the kindergarten of my daughter, because the police came to teach the children about street safety. Every time she interacted with the policeman (answering a question, or standing up with the whole group of children, imitating to drive a car) … she then looked at me, searching for my smile and my approval in my mimic… which I happily gave her!
The author then continues: “A preschooler seeks ardently to please and to win approval. He is extremely sensitive to looks of displeasure and disapproval. Such children live for the happy faces of those they are attached to.
The problem with that sense of this way of attaching is that it makes a child vulnerable of being hurt. To want to be significant to someone is to suffer when we feel we don’t matter to that special person. Seeking someone’s favour leads to feeling wounded by signs of disfavour. A sensitive child can be easily crushed when the eyes he is scanning for signs of warmth and pleasure do not light up in his presence, be it the eyes of parent or peer. “
Well, I identified very well with that.
How many times was I devastated as a teenager and as a young adult, when this friend I was so attached to, or this guy I hoped would fulfil my void of belonging did not give me that approval. How hard it was, when I did not matter as much to that special person as this person mattered to me.
When I remember all the tears, all the intense l pain I endured … looking back I know that this was the result of me not having had this healthy attachment, this belonging, the sense of being worthy, lovable and wanted.
Warm feeling, loving feeling, affectionate feelings. Emotion is always involved in attachment, but in a preschooler who can feel deeply and vulnerably, the pursuit of emotional intimacy becomes intense.
A child who that tends to this way of attachment and does experience this needed emotional intimacy with the parent can tolerate much more physical separation and yet hold the parent close. The child carries the feeling of the loving parent inside of him, finds support and comfort in it. The older the child gets, the longer this feeling will comfort a child, even if the parent is not there. Children that had this form of attachment in their childhood, develop a greater capacity to be emotionally open and vulnerable when they get older.
What an amazing gift we can give our children!
The gift of being known deeply. In all the wonderful and in all the difficult… yet being understood, loved, accepted!
Many of us are reluctant to share even with loved ones our deepest concerns and insecurities about ourselves. Yet there is no closeness that can surpass the sense of feeling known and still being liked, accepted, welcomed, invited to exist.
Therefore, a child that feels loved, accepted, welcomed, invited to exist… will be a child that loves to be around you, a child that wants to share his secrets, joys and pains with you.
These are the six ways of attaching, each of them provides us with a clue to the behaviour of our children – and often, to our own behaviour as well.
As I mentioned in the last Article, Children and we as adults have our preferred way of seeking closeness and attachment. You could probably recognize yourself or your child in one of the six ways of attachment.
Understanding them, helps us to reach out to our children, and meet them where they are, investing in their lives with the “language” they understand.
In my own life, I have a child that is mostly connecting with “being known”. Understanding this, I had to realize that this is not the way of attachment I am best in giving. But it helps me to position myself and grow in my capacity to reach out to that child and giving him what he yearns for.
I know from my own story that lacking this healthy attachment made it much harder (and in some situations impossible) for me to take healthy decisions. This deep longing for the missing attachment did sabotage a whole lot of my life for so long!!
The content from this article written in italic, is from the book “Hold on to your kids“, written by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate, Chapter two, sub chapter “six ways of attaching”.
The purpose of the author of this Article (Jeanne from familythatmatters) is to give you a glimpse into what I believe is crucial for a family that matters: The capacity of bonding and attachment inside a family. In my opinion Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate have done an amazing job by writing this book, and I strongly suggest anyone being interested in the topic to read it by yourself.