A while back my mom suggested I read a book called Parenting From the Inside Out by Daniel Siegel and Mary Hartzell. She had seen on goodreads that I had read another book by Siegel and thought I would appreciate the information in this book as well.
I got through the first few chapters of the book without too much surprise.
But when I got to the sections on attachment I was a little surprised.
I began to see myself in the descriptions of the not so securely attached individuals.
Before, I thought that I was surely attached just fine and that I was a fine parent because of it.
Until I read the descriptions of adult attachment. My adult behavior does not line up with that sort of ideal. Nope.
I found this description to ring true with my experience:
“Although studies reveal that individuals with avoidant (dismissive) attachment have mindsight [ability to see other people’s emotions] and can take others’ perspectives, their defensive [what?? I’m not defensive!] state of mind appears to reduce their motivation to be open to the emotional experiences of others. In addition, there may be decreased access to and awareness of their own emotions.”
– Daniel Siegel and Mary Hartzell, – Parenting from the Inside Out
That’s me. In a most uncharitable light, but it can be true when I’m tired, stressed, or dealing with too many people’s emotions at the same time.
I’m better than I was a few years ago though I am still not entirely aware of my own emotions (or why I’m feeling however I’m feeling) all the time.
(Supposedly writing helps these type of people to connect to their emotions and be more aware of what is really going on in their life. Must be why I picked it up :) I’ve found it to be helpful in processing everything and paying attention to what I’m learning. It’s sort of cathartic.)
I’ve also found that I’m not nearly as in touch with what Ranger might need or what he is asking for at any given time as Israel is. He can tell what Ranger needs based on cues that I am entirely unaware of.
In these cases, I fail to offer Ranger a contingent response to his attempts at communication. According to Dr. Siegel, a “contingent response is when the quality, intensity, and timing of the other’s signals clearly reflects the signals that we have sent.” Meaning the caregiver can respond appropriately to the child’s communication.
I would love to work on that.
The ABC’s of attachment:
“Secure attachments are thought to occur when children have consistent, emotionally attuned, contingent communication with their parent or other primary caregiver. Relationships that provide contingency, especially at ties of emotional need, offer children repeated experiences of feeling connected, understood, and protected.”
In light of this realization, I’m going to make a point to try to not gloss over more of Ranger’s life than I already have. I’m going to try to be a bit more responsive and available to him, less caught up in the virtual world of the internet and my iPad so that I can learn to read his cues better. I also want to add habits into our routines as is necessary to accommodate this goal of better emotional connection and communication.
I want to give him a base of having an available and responsive mama who is aware of his needs and emotions.
I want that secure attachment between us.
What about you? Do you think you have a healthy attachment style?
How do you think your attachment has effected your parenting?
Do you find it difficult to stay in touch with your emotions? What about staying in touch with your kids?
Has anyone else read Parenting From the Inside Out?
P.S. you should read that book if you haven’t yet and you’re a parent. It’s a game-changer.