The foundation for trust and a basic sense of safety in the world is the secure attachment of a child to a parent/primary caregiver. It's like home base when you are playing tag, or the side of the pool when you jump in the deep end. That base is a place to rest and feel safe. Of course the child needs to leave home base or the side to play and explore but can safely return. That is the function of the secure person.
Some children are lucky enough to have secure attachments to both parents who have shared parenting since infancy. You can see that sense of security when a child first begins to be able to move on his or her own. The child is sitting with a parent, crawls away, and looks back for reassurance. Mom/Dad smiles and claps and encourages. The child continues to explore and play.
Sometimes the young child will come back to Mom/Dad for a hug or a touch and then off again to explore the world. School age children may not touch base as often but want to know that Mom/Dad is there when they need them!
A child with an insecure base may have a hard time leaving Mom/Dad. The insecurity is an outgrowth of the style of parenting and the needs of the parent, not innate within the child in most cases. Mom/Dad is either anxious and afraid too much of the time; distracted by his or her own emotions and adult concerns too much of the time; or fundamentally uninterested in or incapable of placing the needs of the child above the needs of the parent.
Parents who are anxious and insecure tend to create children who are anxious and insecure. Parents who are distracted and preoccupied with adult concerns tend to create children who are insecure because they don't get adequate nurturing and feedback and reassurance. And parents who consistently place their own needs as the highest priority tend to create children who are chaotic and who often lack empathy.
When families break apart parents often become anxious, insecure, distracted, and preoccupied. Unfortunately some parents feel wounded, become angry, and pursue revenge against the enemy. Children can handle this stress for a while, but there is a limit!! Get support when you are going through a life change that is challenging. If your normal coping skills and support system aren't working then reach out and find more! Find someone in your life who will tell you the truth and who understands and values the need for children to have both children in their lives. If your intent is to create a battle plan and win a war, the children will be left behind.
Your child needs a secure base in Mom's House and in Dad's House as quickly as possible after the families breaks apart. The best way to accomplish that is cooperative and shared parenting for coparents who can be respectful to one another; or parallel parenting with little coparenting contact when the adults are not able to be respectful.
Transitions Family Program at Hannah's House offers FREE support groups for Moms and Dads every week - Wednesday 600 pm for Dads and Friday 530 pm for Moms. The groups are open to any coparent in San Diego county who is family-court involved, or coparenting children between 2 separate homes. Transitions also offers therapy services; parenting and coparenting classes; facilitated coparenting meetings and can help coparents draft effective coparenting plans. Bridges Family Program offers in-home services like home safety checks, home studies, parent coaching, supervised visitation, and safe exchanges. 2 Home Kids Program offers agency-based services including supervised visitation, safe exchanges, monitored phone, Skype, and text contact between parent and child.
Good-enough parenting is what is required to ensure a secure base for your child. Just good-enough. Not exceptional, and certainly not perfect. If you need some support to get back to good-enough, email HannahsHouseSD@gmail.com today to learn more about the services we offer to help 2 home families.