Learning to tell the truth means getting honest about our emotions and about our motivations. Learning to tell the truth means getting honest about our pain and our limitations, about our hopes and our dreams. Learning to tell the truth means learning how to tell those things to other people, yes, but possibly more important than anything else, it means learning how to tell these truths to ourselves.
Affirmation, support, responding to bids, giving words and celebration – those are our five keys to attachment from 0 – 18 and beyond. When we put these together with the other ideas we’ve explored this month, we find we can be increasingly successful at raising adults by the age of 18!
We’ve already talked about affirmation, support and bids. Today we want to look at the power of giving words as another step in helping our child feel known.
Our kids are busy learning on every axes of life – social, emotional, physical and mental – and that means that often things are going to happen that they simply don’t understand themselves.
Today we look at “bids” – the way that we as humans make it known that we need a little more support, engagement or attachment.
This week we are looking at five ways of helping to give our kids the attachment – the sense of safety and connectedness that comes from feeling seen, known and precious – that allows them to learn and develop to reach their full potential. Today, we are looking at the idea of support.
Attachment parenting has been a phrase in parenting circles for quite a while now – you see it talked about a fair amount in books on parenting infants, babies and toddlers, and it even seems to sneak into a few of the books on preschoolers, but then it’s as if it simply disappears.
As if, having laid this foundation of attachment you don’t really have to think about it after that.
And although I completely understand that life is life and there will be times when we can’t be as attached and connected with our kids and teens as we might want, that doesn’t mean this is a program we can set up at the beginning of life and then walk away and leave to run on it’s own. The simple truth is that we as humans can’t learn if we’re afraid, and the best way to turn off the alarm bells in our kids’ heads is by helping them to maintain the feeling that they are connected and attached – that they are ‘seen, known and precious’ – whatever age they may be.
While I have seen charts saying children should reach this skill by such-and-such an age, or showing what chores kids should do in what grades, I think it’s incredibly important to realize that each of our children are unique, and each will develop in slightly different ways and slightly different speeds. This is particularly true for children who have neurodevelopmental issues such as autism, physical disabilities such as club foot or those who were born prematurely.
Because of this, my recommendation is to create a list of skills that you want your child to develop along each of these axes – heart, soul, mind and body – and for each of the values that you want your child to learn.
Last week we talked about how our values should be used as the basis for our parenting plan. How we need to figure out where we’re trying to get to before we can create a plan for how to get there, just like we need a destination before we can plot a course of travel on a map.
But once we have the destination how do we create the plan?
In an ideal world, we would be leaning into our values, with so much love and compassion and excitement and joy that our children would gladly follow us forward into these places and spaces.
“If we were going to do a good job as parents, we needed to have a goal, and we needed to be intentional about how our actions today were helping us to get to our goal – especially because the goal was so far off!”