Wanted: Attachment Needs Met—Adults as well as Children Apply

“See Me, Feel Me, Touch Me, Heal Me” Lyrics from The Who

We are making Attachment Theory a primary focus at CLE this year. One of the major breakthroughs in psychology is the increasing awareness that the relational needs young children have to attach to their mothers and fathers are the same we have as adults.  Children need to be seen, listened to, empathized with, touched and held—and so do adults. At CLE, we are learning how to identify our attachment needs, recognizing when our needs are not being met, and learning how to heal and repair attachment breaches.

Children are born entirely dependent on their primary care givers. They are unable to survive apart from the provisions of those they are dependent on. Children have the basic needs to survive (food, water, shelter, safety, etc.) along with the emotional and social needs of attachment. Attachment is that process in which children discover and expand themselves through the attention and care of others.

Bob Wright summarizes attachment as our need to be accurately perceived in the here and now, with positive regard, consistently and unconditionally.

Perceived accurately: This is when parents see and mirror back to their children an accurate representation of what the child is feelings and experiencing. The child discovers themselves in the accurate reflection of their primary care givers. Parents play the role of mirrors, reflecting back the expressions, feelings and mood of the child.

As adults, we will strengthen our relationships if we attentively listen to one another, accurately reflecting back what our partner is saying. Avoiding giving advice or trying to fix your partner is strongly encouraged. Any unsolicited advice is certain to result in an attachment breach!

In the here and now: This feedback is most potent when it happens immediately in the moment. Take advantage of the opportunities to see and hear each other in the here and now. Sooner is better than later. This means having live interactions in the moment vs. telling stories about our lives with one another.

With Positive Regard: This is a fundamental attitude that holds each human being as whole and complete. Positive regard is a mindset that believes that each person is both capable and responsible for his or her life—adults are not victims. At CLE, we believe that each individual is created in the image of God and able to draw upon an abundance of resources to learn, grow and transform themselves into their most radiant Christ-self.

Consistently: A child learns much more effectively when he or she experiences consistency in the feedback and response of the primary care givers. We need to be consistently seeking to see, listen to, empathize with, and demonstrate positive regard for one another, whether we are parenting our children or spending time with adults.

Unconditionally: This is certainly the goal put forth by Jesus when he asked us to love one another, forgiving each other, and refusing to retaliate when hurt. Unconditional care and concern is what we all long for; however, it often requires divine assistance. The Apostle John wrote, “We love, because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) We must draw upon a resource greater than ourselves in order to be able to love one another.

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Published: 19.01.2011 / 12:07 PM

Category: Grappling with God,Relationships,Spiritual Growth

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