Parent-child attachment. You can google the topic and find a myriad of opinions and authors on what it is, and why we care. Let me help you narrow the search. One of the most helpful and clear explanations of attachment was given to me by Circle of Security (http://www.circleofsecurity.org).
Circle of Security is an early-intervention program for parents and children that was developed to help promote secure attachment. I had the pleasure of hearing Bob Marvin (one of the founders) introduce this model in Nashville during a Connecting for Children’s Justice Conference.
Without going into detail about the entirety of the model, I want to focus this post on one word: delight. Every child comes out of the womb immediately looking to attach to someone. This is for survival. Survival isn’t just meeting physical needs. If emotional needs don’t get met, this can be just as detrimental as physical neglect.
Children will always look to their primary caregiver(s) to answer the fundamental human questions of “Who am I?” and “How do I ____ (feel/act/believe/think)?” When children embark on the journey of life, looking to caregivers for these answers, they have needs along the way. One of the basic needs is to be delighted in.
Delight. Wow. It never occured to me before the training with Marvin that “delight” is an essential and fundamental need of us all. I used to think to be delighted in is something that one could probably do without. However, looking more closely – it is something that is necessary.
I got to see a clear picture of delight about a year ago. My daughter looked up at my husband (who was mid-putting dishes away), proceeded to push the button on her toy that plays music and said “Daddy, want dance?” Of course, this 19-month old request of a spin around the dance floor melted my husband. He quickly picked her up and spun her again and again and again. They both giggled, glowed and were exhuberant with delight. I watched as my daughter threw her head back with joy and freedom. Rarely do you see children clearly articulate “please delight in me.” I think “Daddy, want dance?” is as close as you’ll get.
Some of you reading this might question whether “delight” is essential. Imagine life without it. What if “Daddy, want dance?” was met more often than not with rejection. I’m not talking about the occassional “Sorry, baby – I can’t right now.” I’m talking about being rejected time after time after time. Eventually the asking will stop. And the question of “Who am I?” will be answered with something like “Not Worth It” or “Too Much.”
Have you asked to be delighted in lately? Have you been delighted in lately? If you stopped asking a long time ago, it’s worth looking into why. Maybe you’ll find that you are worth that spin around the kitchen floor.