Parenting & Secure Attachment

Photo by Roberto Nickson on Unsplash

By Marion Goodwin, LCSW

  • But Mooommmmmmm, when are you coming hoommmme???”
  • Do I HAVE to finish ALL of my homework before I watch YouTube?”
  • Feed the dogs? I feed them in the evening. It’s not my turn!

I’m the mother of two middle school students. Maybe you are also, or can remember when your kids were this age. Or your children are younger and you can envision how today’s tantrums could evolve to plaintive whines for attention and bargaining in the future. In any event, you are a parent or at least you have a parent, and can relate to these scenarios.

I find it interesting when others (insert Partner/Spouse/Grandparent/Friend) feel emboldened to remark on my children’s behavior:

“They don’t act like that with ME!”
“You need to nip that nonsense in the bud!” “Who’s in charge here anyway???”


I remember this catchphrase from when my children were toddlers; recited by wise and experienced pre-school teachers and loving grandmotherly types alike. Everyone, all of us, are social beings. We need one another and, as newborn humans, we need complete and total care by our parents.

As in many households, the primary responsibility for baby care was absorbed by me, the Mom. The explanation seemed straightforward as I actually gestated and birthed these little bundles of joy. I took time (ok, YEARS) off from my career to nurse, bathe, clothe and educate them on all the ways of the world. And doing so was my honor and almost, my undoing (but that’s another blogpost entirely).

Attachment Theory

Attachment Theory was developed by British psychiatrist John Bowlby during the middle decades of the last century. His influences included evolutionary biology, psychoanalysis and ethology. He determined infant humans adapt themselves to the parenting style of their caregivers. This ensures security and growth in the best of cases—and for less-than-ideal scenarios, at least a chance for survival.

What does all this science have to do with my whiny kids? Well, their high pitched pleas and non-stop negotiating tactics leave me with only one conclusion. First, no one would who knows me or has been in the presence of my children and I, would ever characterize me as an “indulgent” parent or a pushover. Conversely, I believe my budding teenager and tween, see me as their Safe Base. They can let down their guard, lean on me emotionally, and at least for a flickering moment here and there, revert back to the young child who looked to me for all of their needs. I won’t scold or shame them for this behavior. I will be consistently firm. I will be loving. I will be kind .

But am I not raising future adults here? You bet I am!
 But what if they “fail to launch”/live in your basement until they are 30??? Here’s how I answer that…

My children know that this type of behavior is not appropriate with other adults. Not their teachers, not their coaches, not even their peers. One of my prouder Mommy moments occurred last year when my then 7th grade daughter made her middle school BOYS’ baseball team. The coach asked what position she was interested in playing. Her response was an enthusiastic “Wherever you need me most Coach!”.

The fact that I have a secure attachment to my kids—and continue to provide it—gives them the confidence and emotional reserve to venture out successfully into this world. Just like a toddler who takes a few bold steps to explore his environment and then looks back to make sure his loving caregiver is watching and hasn’t disappeared, my kids know I will always be there for them. No matter what.


Counseling in Denver, Centennial, & Castle Rock

If you need help in providing a secure attachment to your kids, give us a call! We’d love to be there for you, so you can be there for your loved ones.

Marion Goodwin

About Marion Goodwin

Marion Goodwin offers individual counseling, marriage counseling, and family therapy for adults and teens at Colorado Counseling Center. She specializes in helping people heal from trauma and PTSD, increase their self-esteem, and create more loving relationships.

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