“Am I enough?” is the prevailing question I hear from parents every day. It’s a valid question considering the emphasis our culture puts on being the parent who does everything.
Attachment parenting has become a very trendy, often misunderstood, theory of how to be the perfect parent. Most parents have heard that secure attachment is the goal for your children, but it’s hard to discern what that means or how to achieve it. A lot of the advice causes parents to believe they must be a parenting island, which is not a reality when so many Americans have caregiving help.
As a therapist who helps adults process their attachment traumas, I want you to know that you’re doing a much better job than you think! Learning more about attachment is the first step in helping your child form a secure attachment bond.
What Is Attachment?
Attachment is the bond your child has with you or another caregiver that allows them to feel secure in life. Attachment bonds form when your child knows that they can trust you to meet their physical or emotional needs and be there for them in difficult times.
Why Is Attachment Important?
As a result, securely attached children experience lower levels of stress, trust safe people and learn to regulate their emotions. Securely attached adults are able to form meaningful relationships and cope with life’s challenges. You don’t have to be perfect at this but your child does need to know that you see them and they can depend on you. The same is true for other caregivers. As long as your child knows that the caregiver will meet their needs, they can form secure attachments to that caregiver.
Who Can Form Attachment With Kids?
Early attachment research suggested that attachment can only be created with one primary caregiver. This incorrect belief led to a lot of guilt and anxiety for parents who share caregiving responsibilities with others. The reality is that your child can form secure attachments with multiple caregivers and still become a well-adjusted adult. The key is to find consistency in responding to physical and emotional needs among caregivers so that your child knows their boundaries and what to expect no matter who your caregiver is.
The reality is that your child can form secure attachments with multiple caregivers and still become a well-adjusted adult.
If you’re unfamiliar with theories of attachment, there are a lot of fantastic resources to help you. If you and your family already have a caregiver who you love and trust, you can include them in the conversation about fostering healthy attachment with your children.
When you research attachment, it’s important that the advice you receive is kind, compassionate, and attainable. If it doesn’t work in your family’s context, I would encourage you to find trusted sources that explain attachment in clear ways. A great example of this is Big Little Feelings, which explains how to raise children that are confident and connected to you.
Living Aligned With Your Values
When you research attachment parenting styles, you will begin to find methods that work for your family and align with your values. Effective parenting happens when we create a network of people that we can rely on to care for our children. When you look for the best care for your child, your ideal person will most likely be the one who can help to raise your child in a way that is aligned with your values.
The Care Provider Connection
With attachment in mind, take time to ask potential caregivers how they connect with children and respond to their needs. Attachment-minded caregivers may not know the language of attachment, but they will know how to listen and respond to your family values. When you know your child trusts their caregivers, it helps you trust them as well. It can also ease any of the guilt you have over needing caregiver support.
Attachment-minded caregivers may not know the language of attachment, but they will know how to listen and respond to your family values.
If you still feel anxious about leaving your child with another caregiver, talk to your support network about people they trust or ways they coped with the parenting guilt. If you struggle to believe that you can leave your child with a caregiver and still be enough as a parent, other people can help you challenge these beliefs. A therapist can also help you clarify your values and resolve your anxiety. No parent should have to be an island and the best parenting happens in community with others.
Elise Champanhet is a Mental Health Therapist seeing individuals seeking physical, emotional, and mental wellness at Optimum Joy Clinical Counseling in the Greater Chicago Area.