Bonding with Your Inner Child: A Second Chance to a Happier Childhood
The science of attachment is the study of the bond between the mother (and later other caregivers) and the child and how this relationship, secure or not creates the internal working representation of the child. This simply means if you were raised with the experience that you can count on your caregiver(s) for emotional security that you’ll learn to find your own secure ways in being in the world.
It’s interesting how this sense of insecurity can take hold of us for many generations to come. Insecure moms are likely to raise insecure children, or are they?
I remember working with a mother who was tortured as a child, left in a sack hanging upside down in a tree for hours. It was excruciating to hear the details of her story, many parts of it she claimed to have forgotten but every piece of my query takes her to the next chapter and the next.
What she thought she’s forgotten was vividly remembered by everything else in her body.
I imagine how she would have survived in that sack for hours & further punished after being brought down. When I met her children, I understood how.
Her bond with her parents had been traumatic and her bond with her own children nearly the same- without the physical torture.
I watched how she diligently managed being a mother-cooking, being in a cycle of unhealthy relationships to make ends meet, hustling.
She was so available to her children and yet absent in many ways.
Her children had been labeled as those kids with “explosive behaviors.”
She can’t understand how her children have turned out to be this way.
PASSING THE BATTON: INTERGENERATIONAL ATTACHMENT TRANSMISSION
Attachment styles between parent & child have been looked at in three generations.
In this study, grandmothers who had a particular attachment style (secure, anxious, avoidant) significantly predicted the pattern of attachment both of her daughter and the latter’s child (Benoit & Parker 1994).
Take a moment to take that in.
This means that the bond between your lola and your mother directly impacts you.
If you were raised by a nurturing & emotionally available parent, good for you.
Otherwise, are we all doomed to be the same parent our parents have been?
The mother who was tortured as a child, is it her fate to be emotionally unavailable to her own children, torturing them with her honed skill to dissociate? The very skill she needed to survive hours of sadistic punishment upside down in a sack.
*dissociate- disconnecting with thoughts, feelings, the self
Without doing anything, this transmission of the way we form bonds with our children and our adult relationships can be predictable. But-
It can also be interrupted.
Before finding ways to raise yourself or to interrupt the cycle, it’s pivotal to identify if there had been disruptions in your attachment with a caregiver, usually the mom or the dad.
Let’s begin there. If you would like to re-parent yourself in a gentle, self-paced manner, check out the mini course on INNER CHILD PLAYGROUND: 30 Days to Playful Restoration.
Not all children who had been temporarily displaced from their parents have long-lasting negative consequences on their psychological well-being. Humans don’t live linear lives and when we do, like robots, the intergenerational attachment transmission risk is higher.
We do it all the time…going to the grocery store and getting Silver Swan Soy sauce brand without a blink. Why? Because that’s the brand our mothers used and we conclude that’s the one. Now, whether you use Datu Puti or Silver Swan isn’t such a big deal as to the thought put on how to parent your own child.
But, first things first.
Here are some attachment disruptions tell-tale signs that you might want to be curious about. If a change, trauma, loss have occurred recently in your life, see if these changes can be a better explanation to what I’m about to present.
This is not an exhaustible list by no means. Nope no diagnosing yourself either. Leave that to the professional, seek Therapy/Counseling if you think you need this support or contact me.
If you have one of these points, it doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with you.
Attachment Disruption signs in Adults (points to explore):
- Feeling disconnected with your partner and your child as a pattern.
- Not depressed but feeling like you’re just existing in the world. You were sort of like this even as a child.
- Feeling very insecure, like you constantly have to prove your worth to others.
- Rage towards your mother or someone who raised you.
- Cannot remember details of your childhood.
- Using generalizations to describe your mother/father, like, “she took care of me,” lacking details in your memories.
- Judgemental of your own feelings.
- Constantly “doing things,” overly self-reliant.
- Dissociates especially during times of stress
- Highly stressed as a pattern
- Easily anxious and possessiveness with adult relationships
These are just some. If you’re experiencing one or some of these signs, know that you can break this cycle.
I’ve been in a position where I’ve been the therapist to a daughter and later to her mother. The words of the daughter is no different from her mother. Indeed, the intergenerational transmission of parent-child bond can be passed on unnoticed.
I’m happy to report that with therapy, this mother has found a way to provide good-enough mothering to her children. She is intentional and aware of her own emotional map so that when she’s anxious, she knows what to do. This makes my heart full!
HOW TO RAISE YOURSELF
In the very essence of the attachment theory lies in our neurobiology, the threat that happens in, within and around our gut, our nervous system and our brain.
As a pattern if a child is dismissed (ignored, shuts down emotions) when crying a child may develop a way to survive this type of parenting by disowning parts of herself.
It is our intrinsic need to love and be loved by our parents. In order to sustain this, children make all attempts to make sense of what their parent does even when it means believing that “I’ m the bad one.”
It may also result in constant yearning for attention, thereby, unconsciously being “the bad one.” A negative attention anyway is attention nonetheless.
It may also result in being extremely self-reliant. Learning that others cannot be relied on so the only way to exists is to rely on the self.
In raising yourself, here are some places to start (without a therapist)
- Write down what ticks you off. Your triggers. What makes you angry or withdraw from a situation? Write a story on how you will handle the situation in the future. Be as detailed as possible. Record this to listen in the beginning of the day or simply read aloud your new story.
- Imagine giving your younger self a tour of your current home today. Tell this child what you will do for her, how she has everything she needs in your home and that she will no longer be alone. You will now raise(parent) your younger self with great confidence. A trained therapist can help you with this but if you’re doing it on your own, have a visual. Use your imagination or have a vision board, similar to how we make children feel at home in the classroom by having cubicles with their name & bulletin board decorations. Do that for younger self.
- Learn 1-2 self-regulating techniques. These are techniques to calm you down during a stressful time. It can be a verbal prompt while holding your wrist as if catching someone at the edge of a cliff and telling yourself- “I gotcha, I gotcha, I’m not going to let you go. You’re safe.”
This is so important when raising yourself and when raising a child. Without learning self-regulating techniques, it would be a challenge to implement parenting tools & tricks we are barraged with on the net. They will cause more frustration.
- Align your adult relationships with people who you feel felt, seen and heard. Research backs this up that disrupted attachment in childhood can be mended with secure attachments in adulthood. If you’re in a cycle of unhealthy, self-sabotaging relationships, slow down…assess….seek support..find your true crew-people who you don’t have to pretend to to be liked.
Whatever attachment disruptions sign(s), you identified above, imagine your own mother having had that same feeling towards her own mother. Remember, it’s not so much about the event but the meaning we’ve placed on those events. It’s possible that your grandmother and mother were close, be curious if this is just so.
If you would like to begin your inner child work using gentle prompts and creative expression without being an artist and with as little as 10 minutes a day, visit the INNER CHILD PLAYGROUND: 30 Days to Playful Restoration, mini course.
And if it is trauma, the feelings of loss/threat may have started with your mother and its possible no disruption in the bond occurred prior. But if this is not the case, be curious what cost does your mother (the child in the relationship) have to pay to get to this closeness? In doing this, you expand your compassion for our own mother and simultaneously to yourself, consequently to your own child.
Our insecure attachment styles with our children can be predictable throughout generations but the chain can also be mitigated with self-parenting, establishing secure relationships in adulthood, and finding support in community and in therapy/coaching.
In children, the earlier the intervention to re-establish safe & secure connection, the better off our children are.
The sooner you raise yourself, the sooner you will be better equipped to raise secure children in the world. Learn more about the Inner Child Playground: 30 Days to Playful Restoration here.
You have what it takes!
If you need support doing this, reach out and schedule a complimentary consult with me with this Pinay therapist.
Roanne has been a Psychotherapist for more than 15 years. She has frequented at least 500 Filipino homes and counting. She is the author of the Ebook: 5 Pinoy Love Languages and the creator of the presentation entitled: Filipino Core Values & Considerations in Culturally Responsive Care. To access self-paced courses and other resources, enter the Kalamansi Juice Academy.
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