Thursday, August 5, 2010

Adult Attachment Styles

Parents often find themselves overwhelmed by the responsibilities of caring for their children, particularly when the child has behavioral, developmental, medical or mental health challenges. The child seems to be pushing our "buttons". Sometimes it feels intentional and purposeful. We often blame the child. However, while children may find and push our buttons, they did not install them. Our parents did. That is, as a result of our own childhood experiences, each of us has developed an attachment style that affects our ability to develop all kinds of relationships; with friends, co-workers, spouses, and especially with our children. A securely attached adult has made sense of his or her childhood and has the ability to deal with a child's behavior without taking it personally. The dismissing adult has difficulty identifying with a child's struggles because to do so means he may have to take another look at a possibly painful past. The preoccupied adult has open childhood wounds and feels hurt and rejected by her child and others. The adult with a disorganized attachment style is a dangerous parent. Taking another look at our childhoods can help us develop "earned security". Then we can help our children develop more secure attachments to us, thus setting them up for more successful relationships.