Parenting Your Inner and Outer Child
Being attached to stuff is the cause of all suffering according to Buddhism. Not being attached to primary caregivers is the cause of most mental illness according to Attachment Theorists. Kids need freedom to experience independence. Too much freedom makes kids insecure and they will have difficulty forming attachments when they are older. Maybe it would be better to board up your family into your home and never listen to anyone.
Lee says: Attachment Theory has been a hot topic in the psychology field since the early 80s. The theory came from work in the fields of psychology, evolution and ethology (animal behavior). The basic theory of attachment was conceived by John Bowlby, a psychoanalyst. What? Didn’t you notice the ‘it’s Mommy’s fault cause Junior is a murderer’ part of this theory?
The bottom line to all attachment and creating a secure connection to your child is the caregiver’s behavior. In attachment theory, they discuss how a secure child shows signs of independence from his caregiver but is happy to return to them when the activity is over. They find secure kids do experience some anxiety over separation from the caregiver but they are able to be soothed by strangers. The most important aspect to all of this is that the caregivers demonstrate consistency, respond appropriately, maintain boundaries and a willingness to let the child be independent. But the most important thing is CONSISTENCY!
The C word seems to rear its ugly head again. In everything we do as parents that damned word pops up. In discipline, we know that setting down the rules, maintaining them and following through every time creates a well disciplined child. Such is the thing with attachment. Through attachment and discipline, we ultimately create safety for our kids. The kids know where the limits are, know the rules, know Mommy and or Daddy will be there, thus they are able to set forth and be individuals knowing they have a safe base to return to with a hug and kiss waiting for them.
However, what we usually do as parents is let our own shit get in the way. For example, if your parents were not around, you may become over protective and overindulgent with your child. If you have attachment issues then you may create attachment issues for your kids. Our own childhood enmeshment or detachment/cut-off from our family of origins will dictate how we parent. You may do the exact opposite but you will definitely ride that ‘healthy/unhealthy’ line constantly.
You see if Mommy and Daddy didn’t show you healthy love, you will not know what it really is. At some point you must re-parent yourself (please brace yourself for some inner child stuff). We all had some experience with imperfect parents. Those traumas, whether subtle or not, wounded that child and his/her ability to trust the world. That may have made you cling to your parents or decide ‘these fuckers are nuts!’ True, you could have done both. But the result is a warped sense of love and safety. This is the average, human adult walking the street. There parenting style will reflect their childhood wounds and thus the cycle continues. Please do not read that I’m discussing physical, emotional or sexual abuse. These are extremes but the resulting trauma is similar to a child who is enmeshed with their family. The boundaries are gone and the child is completely lacking in safety.
So go and hug your kids then hug yourself. Being a parent makes you realize what you missed as a child so indulge yourself, discipline yourself and be a better parent to yourself and your kid than your parents ever were. And no, I am not being psychoanalytic. I’m just another screwed up kid who grew up and realized my parents did the best that they could but it wasn’t what I needed.
Paul says: My self-parenting technique includes hugging myself then feeding myself pudding. Yes, as a self-parenter I tend to spoil myself.