by Dr. Deborah MacNamara
A father sat in my office, visibly upset that his 7 year old son wasn’t listening to him. He recounted challenge after challenge with his son from leaving the park to getting dressed in the morning, from eruptions of frustration to bedtime battles. Exasperated, the father looked at me and asked, “Why would any child follow any parent in the first place?” It was a good question and one I couldn’t answer without making sense of attachment first.
Attachment science is the name given to the study of human relationships. Attachment is how we root our children to a secure base, create a sense of belonging and significance, and nourish them. John Bowlby, the psychiatrist who first coined the term, ‘attachment’ stated, “What is believed to be essential for mental health is that the infant and young child should experience a warm, intimate and continuous relationship with his mother (or permanent mother-substitute) in which both find satisfaction and enjoyment.”