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How can I help my ADDICTED TEEN?
Will being ADOPTED make adolescence harder for my child?
How can I deal with the ANGER
in our family?
Is my teen's BEHAVIOR just normal teenage rebellion?
What do parents and teachers need to know about BULLYING?
What is EMOTIONAL ABUSE?
How can I help my OVERWEIGHT
Help! My teen is a RUNAWAY!
My teen is cutting. What do I need to know about SELF-INJURY?
What is 'normal' teen SEXUAL BEHAVIOR and what is cause for concern?
What makes a STRONG FAMILY?
Attachment and Attachment Disorders
Attachment is all about building relationships. Humans need attachments with others for their psychological and emotional development as well as for their survival. Infants need to be physically close to the mother and be able to receive and give affection to form an enduring emotional bond. Children need to feel that they are safe, that they will not be abandoned, and that they are loved and valued.
The unique and exclusive relationship between a mother and child colors the person's relationships for rest of his or her life. If the relationship is close and secure, then the child learns to trust and love. If the relationship is emotionally distant and inconsistent, then the child learns not to trust or care and believes that one is all alone in the world.
The importance of an attachment relationship
between mother and child cannot be over-emphasized.
In every situation that children experienced their parent’s love being cut off (e.g., divorce, abandonment, abuse, neglect, death, imprisonment, or their love becoming conditional), the emotional bond was broken. Children then feel that they are unlovable, as if a part of them suffocated and died. Just as connectedness is our most basic need, isolation is our most injurious state.
The basic cause of a person's inability
to relate to himself/herself and others with love
is this childhood state of feeling unlovable
which persists into adulthood.
Dr. John Townsend says in his book, Hiding from Love: How To Change the Withdrawal Patterns That Isolate and Imprison You:
Attachment deficits occur in different forms. There's a common denominator, however: a lack of connectedness in the person's significant relationships. The detached person was not "met where he was" in some way.
At times this lack is blatant, such as the emotionally cold or hostile family. It's clear that here the need for constancy [in being and feeling connected] was not met.
Other times, it is more subtle, as in the superficially warm family that appears to be intimate. In this case, there's generally a withdrawal of the warmth when painful subjects are brought up. The developing child learns that she can be attached when she doesn't have needs or problems. But her hurts and fears go deep inside into an isolated place in the heart, where they may stay for a lifetime.
Since God created us for bonding, it's part of our very essence. . . We are created to bond in either a growth-producing or a death-producing manner. If we cannot bond to loving relationships, we will bond to something else that is not so loving. This is the root of the addictive process.
Dr. Townsend goes on to say that healing from attachment deficits involves two factors:
First, it requires finding safe, warm relationships in which emotional needs will be accepted and loved, not criticized and judged.
Second, repair requires taking risks with our needs.
These are genuine risks. . . . When those unattached parts of the self become connected to others, our ability to tolerate loss of love increases. The more we internalize, the less we need the world to approve of us constantly. This is a hallmark of maturity.
Attachment Disorder is a mental and emotional condition occurring during the first three years of life where a child does not attach, bond, or trust his or her mother. Again, it stems from the lack of connectedness in the person's most significant relationship and manifests itself as fear of connection taken to the extreme.
Specifically if a child experiences any of the following in the first three years of life, that child is at risk for Attachment Disorder:
Deborah Hage, a therapist specializing in attachment disorder, expands its definition:
Traditionally it has been believed that children who have been orphaned or abused and neglected are the primary victims of poor bonding and attachment in the early years. In our two-income society, however, a new phenomenon has emerged. Children are being overindulged by parents who have more money then time to spend with them. The result is that children are being raised in financially secure, but emotionally empty environments, with little discipline and structure. Currently this most common form of neglect is also the most socially acceptable. The societal ramifications of children who are overindulged and often emotionally left can be as severe as children who are considered attachment disordered due to abuse, neglect, abandonment, and multiple moves.
Symptoms of Attachment Disorder may include:
Attachment-disordered children are guided only by what they want at the moment. Their focus is self-centered and selfish and there is no concern for how their behavior impacts others.
Because children’s early attachment relationships govern other relationships throughout life and future behavior, the earlier the intervention the better.
Therapists and counseling centers that specialize in attachment disorders and a strong parent support system are necessary for successful intervention.
Association for Treatment and Training in the Attachment of Children ~ ATTACh is an international coalition of parents, professionals, and others working to increase awareness about attachment and its critical importance to human development.
Attach-China International ~ Educates parents of internationally adopted children about post-adoption issues, especially those related to Reactive Attachment Disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Attachment & Trauma Network ~ On-line support groups, therapist and treatment referral, education.
The Attachment Disorder Support Group ~ Online community and resource that promotes the education and understanding of Reactive Attachment Disorder, and special needs children.
Attachment Parenting International ~ Advocates nurturing parenting methods to create strong emotional bonds between an infant and parent(s). This strong attachment develops and fulfills an infant or child's intrinsic need for trust, empathy, love and affection in order to create secure and enduring relationships.
North American Council on Adoptable Children ~ Parent support, research, and advocacy in the US and Canada.
Attachment: A New Way of Understanding the Problems of Parents and Kids ~ By gaining a clear understanding of attachment and the obstacles present in their own relationships with their kids, parents can overcome these obstacles and strengthen the parent-child bonds. Parents who lacked quality bonds as children can be helped to identify and overcome the effects of their poor attachment histories so that they may give their children a better emotional start to life than the one they had.
Attachment Research and Theory at Stony Brook ~ Attachment theory and research from Everett Waters, Judy Crowell, and colleagues at SUNY Stony Brook.
Bonding ~ Without a solid, bonded relationship, the human soul will become mired in psychological and emotional problems. The soul cannot prosper without being connected to others.
Child Abuse and Neglect: Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) ~ A history of gross neglect, little or no attention, interaction, and affection are required to establish a diagnosis of inhibited RAD. For a diagnosis of disinhibited RAD, a history of multiple caregivers, disruptions in relationships, and placement with different people for considerable periods must exist.
Fostering Healthy Attachment ~ As a society, we have raised our children with the expectation that they become totally self-reliant and autonomous rather than with the hope that they have the capacity to form close, loving, intimate relationships with others. As a result of our social insistence upon self-reliance, we have witnessed an epidemic of addictions and "the alienated self" -- people who are disconnected from their internal thoughts and feelings, their inner selves, and are unable to form true intimacy with others.
How the Attachment Bond Shapes Adult Relationships ~ The attachment bond is the term for our first interactive love relationship — the one we had with our primary caregivers, our mothers. The mother–child attachment bond shapes infants' brains, profoundly influencing our self-esteem, our expectations of others, and our ability to attract and maintain successful relationships. So, the success, or failure, of our first love — the attachment bond — has a life-long effect.
In Some Adoptions, Love Doesn't Conquer All ~ Although all children who are adopted will have some degree of attachment problems, most international and domestic adoptions turn out well. This New York Times article focuses on those adoptions that are problematic and the need for both pre-adoption support and post-adoptive services.
Insecure Attachment and Reactive Attachment Disorder ~ What kinds of experiences create insecure attachments? What kinds of experiences bring about healing change? Learn about the symptoms, causes and repair of attachment disorders and reactive attachment disorder.
Parenting Attachment Disordered Children - What Works and What Doesn't Work ~ While love and parental common sense are necessary ingredients to successfully parent a child with attachment difficulties, they are rarely sufficient. This is due to the fact that most children with attachment problems are too guarded and too distrustful to receive the love and support that parents may be offering. The foundational issue for AD children is not love, but safety.
Secure attachments important to teen communication ~ When a parent and a teenager have trouble communicating, when the teen is withdrawn or hostile when confronted with a family conflict, the root problem may be an insecure attachment.
Skills for Bonding ~ Making human connections takes a good dose of grace, truth and time. Here are some skills that will start you on the long road to making changes that heal.
The Relationship Between Feelings and Behavior ~ It is entirely possible for a parent to love a child totally, inwardly, and yet to act toward that child in ways that do not reveal his love.
The Science of Attachment: The Biological Roots of Love ~ Adolescents struggle with the tension between their connection to family and their formation of independence. The foundation built in the early years is the groundwork for this phase of life; if the attachment is secure and established, child and parents can negotiate the events of adolescence with little struggle.
The Use -- and Abuse -- of Attachment Research in Family Courts ~ Despite the research, judges, attorneys and mediators have based their decisions on the desires of the adults involved and not on the needs of the child.
Types of Attachment: The Attachment Classification Continuum ~ The attachment continuum ranges from secure on one end to unattached (severe disorganized attachment) on the other end. Each attachment classification or style can range from mild to severe. An attachment impairment, left untreated, is likely to get worse. Children who have even mild disorganized attachment, if left untreated, are likely to develop borderline personality disorder as adults and have difficulty parenting their own children. Those children who are on the moderate to severe end of the disorganized spectrum must have therapy to avoid developing borderline or antisocial personality disorder and to stay out of the justice system.
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