In the first years of life, our connection with our parents creates an impression of what love feels like. The quality of our parents’ love through verbal and nonverbal interactions forms a mental model in us, creating patterns in our body and mind that will influence what we expect of relationships, childhood, and our whole lives. Our experiences of bonding and nurturing become internalized and shape our sense of self.
Yet, the importance of the father-infant bond is overlooked. The bond of attachment is more than caregiving and providing emotional refuge, often seen as the mother’s role. Attachment is also a bond that promotes exploration and gives confidence to venture forth, often the father’s role. Healthy development depends on a child’s positive attachment to both parents because the parents provide separate but equally important secure bases for the child’s attachment needs.
The five essential resources that promote a secure attachment between parent and child are:
- The child feels protected;
- The child feels seen and known (attuned to);
- The child is soothed when upset;
- The parent expresses delight toward the child;
- The parent provides support and encouragement for the child to explore their world.
Father’s Day could be just as challenging as Mother’s Day if you didn’t hit the parental lottery. Whatever the state of your relationship with your father, this day is an invitation to explore your unique attachment bond with him. The short assessment below will reveal in which of the five essential resources your father excelled or fell short. Learning which needs your father failed to meet can help you heal you re-parent, heal your attachment wounding and create vitality in your life and relationships. I highly encourage you to take it!
Take the Parental Attachment Assessment
Be kind with yourself when you review your score, and don’t self-blame for having insecure attachment! The purpose of this exercise is to gather the necessary information to re-father yourself as needed.
And more importantly, be gentle with yourself this holiday. Honor the needs of your inner child; this day is as much about that child as it is about your father.