Moms and dads usually experience Attachment Parenting when their kids are babies.
Then, the principles of Attachment Parenting seem easier. You were confident that you weren’t going to get pushed away if you held your child. And there was no such thing as too much love. Natural birth, breastfeeding, and co-sleeping are ways to nurture your baby.
At the root of attachment parenting lies attachment theory. It stems from psychologist John Bowlby’s studies of maternal deprivation and animal behavior research in the early 1950s. Attachment parenting focuses on developing that nurturing connection between you and your children. Bowlby viewed this as the best way to raise secure and empathetic children.
It’s done through the following ways:
- Love and respect
- Nurturing touch
- Constant loving care
- Positive discipline
- Balance in personal and family life
As our children get older, and lifestyle starts to kick in – say between 7 and 12 – where does that leave our teenagers? It can leave them feeling disconnected from you.
You can still apply Attachment Parenting as your children become teenagers. And you will find plenty of benefits at this critical time in their development.
When you think about your own teenage years, you are no doubt thinking it was a time of change. Many of which you were trying to navigate at breakneck speed. Your teen is going through exactly the same experience. And they, like you, are experiencing biological, cognitive, and social changes.
As teens try to come to terms with the upheaval, this is when they can develop unhealthy practices, like eating disorders and substance abuse. Risky sexual behavior, antisocial and delinquent activity and school dropout can also occur now in your kid’s lives.
Alongside the rapid biological changes, teens enter a new social-psychological phase of life. The amount of time spent with their parents drops, while time spent with peers increases.
There is a school of thought that parents make little difference in how teenagers cope. Instead of suggesting that peer influence dominates this period.
During the middle to late childhood, a child’s cognitive and social abilities improve, their knowledge base expands, and they become involved with peers.
While that’s true, growing evidence suggests parents do make a critical difference. And this operates through the nature of your attachment bond with your child. There’s an expectation that you will grant your child more autonomy.
So, how you negotiate the transition of the nature of the adolescent-parent attachment bond is paramount.
Teenagers who are attached to their parents tend to display higher levels of identity development. They also have self-concept and emotional regulation.
What Does Attachment Parenting Your Teen Mean?
Your parent-child connection needs to be secure from birth to adulthood. In real practical terms, this means taking the time to communicate and listen to your teens every day. It means getting excited about what they are excited about. It means understanding the incredible hormonal changes happening to your children.
Ensure that you talk openly with your teen and treat them with respect, dignity, humanity, and care. Avoid communicating with sarcasm, cynicism, irritation, and disgust. Allow your teen children to unfold as they are, not as you wish them to be. Nurture them but let go of controlling them. Attachment parenting a teen means unconditional love and emotional support. This way you build a secure attachment bond that will last a lifetime.
Adolescents who feel understood by you as a parent even in the face of conflict can move forward toward early adulthood with confidence. They don’t avoid conflict, exploration, and individuation. And they don’t prematurely push to independence without the support of their parents.
They seek out their caregivers when distressed. But they also explore their environment at times of low stress. Studies show that securely attached adolescents are less likely to engage in excessive drinking, drug use, and risky sexual behavior.
Securely attached adolescents also suffer fewer mental health problems.
- Thought problems
- Conduct disorder
- Delinquency and aggression
In girls, attachment security is related to lower rates of teenage pregnancy. They also worry less about their weight and aren’t as likely to get an eating disorder.
Securely attached teens manage the transition to high school more successfully. They also enjoy more positive relationships and experience less conflict with family and peers than insecurely attached adolescents.
This cannot always be achieved. There are many environmental factors in childhood that can cause an impact.
Insecure attachment in adolescence is linked to dysfunctional behavior.
These include maternal harsh punishment and harsh conflict in the home.
For example, domestic violence may affect your parenting and increases the risk of child neglect.
How To Deal With Relationship Breakdown And Attachment Parenting
How can you nurture a secure bond when marital conflict or divorce may affect parenting ability?
This can reduce your child’s motivation to explore new relationships. They won’t separate from their parents, or interact with peers.
It may not surprise you that parental unavailability and harsh rejection can cause avoidance in your kids.
If a child views themselves as unlovable and unable to attract care from their parents, why would they believe anyone else is interested in them?
‘Anxious-avoidant’ children are reluctant to approach their parents even when distressed because they fear their overtures for comfort will be rejected or punished.
Inconsistency in your parental relationship with your teen is associated with anxious-ambivalent attachment. These children view themselves as unable to sustain the interest and care of others. However, they view others as able to provide support if their attention can be secured and sustained.
Teens who are disconnected from their parents are often stuck in a dynamic with their parents of push and pull, love and hate, compliance and rebellion, clinginess and aggression, being controlled, and being pushed away.
However, for some reason, our society seems to feel very uncomfortable about parent-teen closeness, especially mom and son closeness. These are deep cultural wounds in the collective unconscious that continue to be part of our culture.
What Is The Difference Between Attachment Parenting And Helicopter Parenting?
Is attachment parenting akin to helicopter parenting? No, but no doubt that’s where the fear lies. The children of Helicopter Parents – families that interact in this manner – are dependent upon their parents in an unhealthy manner, begging to get basic needs that have never been met. They are disconnected and unattached.
Raising secure teens gives them the opportunity to be more competent. They have more advanced emotional skills, including empathy, emotional expressiveness, and emotional awareness than their unattached peers.
Secure teens have been found to have more positive coping skills than peers demonstrating insecure attachment styles.
It’s not a tightrope to walk, but indeed a safety harness.
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