Science tells us clearly, that bonding goes from the cradle to the grave.
This is also why “Special Time” with baby to enhance Connection ALWAYS forms part of any Sleep work I do with parents on baby’s sleep.
And how fitting, that these same principles of connection are also evident in adult relationships. Since the Holistic aim of Marise Hyman Maternity Coaching is to support families with their Transition into Parenthood, connection between parent and child and partner to partner are equally important to create families that thrive.
Through the work of Dr. Sue Johnson, author, clinical psychologist, researcher, professor, popular presenter and speaker, leading innovator in the field of couple therapy and the primary developer of Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy, we understand that:
The "drama" in a romantic adult relationship or bond is an adult version of a bond between parent and child.
Staying/feeling close (attachment) to a caretaker is the main survival strategy of our species.
The 5 basic core moves in the “bonding drama” are:
1. We Reach (to invite connection)
2. If we don’t get a response, we Protest/Push to get a response.
3. OR we Turn Away to protect ourselves from rejection (sounds familiar?)
4. When connection is still not obtained, we become overwhelmed with our emotions, irrational and finally go into Meltdown.
5. In a good relationship, we finally find a way to Reconnect and Repair the break in connection. If we love, we will do anything we can to get a response from a loved one.
As a parent - we are often WITH our children, but do we notice their subtle requests during the day to Reach for connection? Connection makes them feel safe and loved. When a child's need for connection is met, he is more cooperative and feels safe enough to offload any built-up tension/traumas held onto, since conception, birth or even just the frustration from today (through healing and supported crying-in-arms for instance). Another way to release difficult emotions is laughter play. You know just what to do to get your little one to screech with laughter, even better if you are the weak and silly loser/clutz in the game to make them feel "bigger".
Strengthening connection can be done by inviting as little as 10 min once or twice per day of "Special Time" into your day, where you:
- Get down on the floor with your newborn, toddler or child.
- Put away all distractions, devices, TV etc.
- Make eye contact
- Don't teach or lead. Ask the child to lead and then just follow their lead, however subtle.
- Enter the connection with a positive energy, expecting good things will happen
- Show with your body language your willingness and enjoyment to connect
- Observe carefully
Disconnection hurts and will always be part of any relationship. But how these disconnections are constantly repaired is what builds lasting love, trust, safety, togetherness and with our children - cooperation! Hallelujah!
We all need loving connection like oxygen. We really don’t have many ways in dealing with disconnection at any age. When we lose the connection in a bond, it is our main source of safety and comfort.
Reaching and responding on an emotional level are what transforms these moments of disconnection. But we can get stuck in angrily pushing for a response or shutting down.
Watch the short video clip below where Dr Johnson, together with Dr Tronick demonstrates the dance of the Bonding Drama and the similarity between parent/child as well as adult relationship.
And then ask yourself, how do you respond to your partner's Reach for Connection. And how do you feel, when your partner misses your cue/Reach for Connection?
How do you repair it?
In learning how to repair it, you are not only creating a safe and loving foundation for your child but also modeling invaluable relationship skills - setting the stage for long-lasting bonding.
More about the Author:
As mother of two darling babies, Certified International Maternity & Parenting Institute Perinatal Coach
& Educator, Holistic Pregnancy & Child Sleep Practitioner, Happiest Baby on the Block Educator and soon Becoming Us" Facilitator, Marise Hyman works with expecting and new families on Holistic Sleep and Preparing for the Life Change a Baby brings, through Marise Hyman Maternity Coaching – setting them up for success, so they can sail into their new lives with confidence!
She is also the founder of the non-profit organisation, Luxmama Club & ParentPrep asbl offering a variety of social and educational events in Luxembourg designed so parents can make the most of becoming and being a new parent in the modern world today.