+BEING MOMMY: Adult children and the parent attachment relationship

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Sunday, January 5, 2014.  Even if I had had any role modeling on how to be a healthy mother from my mother I would probably still be forever learning how to apply that information in my own life with my children who are now grown to be ages 28, 37 and 43.  Having now moved to the city where my two oldest girls live for the first time in our lives I am finding it a struggle to establish an equilibrium in the new version of the relationships we have. 

I am finding that at this point in time their needs are not unlike they were when they were three.  Looks — and age — can be deceiving.  It is MY job as their mother to clear the air and to make changes in myself that will support increasing health rather than increasing negative complications as I move forward in my new life here in the northland.

Information I posted several years ago that can be accessed through this link +CAREGIVING IN ADULT ATTACHMENT RELATIONSHIPS applies just as much to my relationship with my children as it does to a “mate” relationship.  When needs exist in one person in an attachment relationship the needy person cannot fully caregive until those needs are met — somehow — or be healthily set aside long enough for the necessary caregiving of the other party to be implemented in the current moment.

What happens when BOTH people in an attachment relationship are needy at the same time which is most often the case even between adult caregivers of very young children?  What governs the prioritization of need-meeting?

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I KNOW I have most greatly complicated my life and my experience of myself in my life by making this giant move north.  No matter how thoroughly I evaluated my inner resources, no matter how clearly I tried to anticipate what this move would entail there is never a way for humans to fully grasp what is actually going to happen when a change is made.  The point of being as healthy as we possibly can be is that flexibility allows us to apply the widest range of adequate solutions to problems that confront us. 

Being early trauma survivors greatly complicates the range of our flexibility, the range of our coping skills and strategies, and the range of our needs.  What I am finding is that either I gain the clarity I need about “what is going on here” or my relationships with my daughters will suffer and I will, too.

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I scamper for resources as I talk with my savvy friends and think about information I have encountered through my own past searching and researching that can help me now.  I consider the work of Canadian Dr. Gordon Neufeld to contain critically important attachment-healing information.  I am hoping he will soon publish much of his work that is currently only available through costly purchase of dvds.  While I have been trying to learn how his knowledge regarding the attachment needs of the pre-schooler age group applies to my grandsons I had the profound insight last night in a conversation with a very enlightened friend that this information applies just as powerfully to my grown children.

In essence in attachment relationships of any kind during the needy phase one person needs to depend on the other person to be ALPHA so they can safely be dependent.  Now with most adult relationships the parties involved have many kinds of choices they can make about how they will get their needs met.  With very young children those choices DO NOT exist and the adult caregiving attachment person is under moral obligation to meet the needs of the little ones who are under their care.

And of the big ones?

It of course will depend on the workings of the internal gyroscope within a parent of adult children as it helps determine how the attachment patterns are going to play themselves out.  In my case I simply now have figured out why my daughters do NOT want to hear me express any of my FEELINGS, thoughts, observations, perspectives, etc. about how this move north is affecting me.  That puts ME in the position of (my guess) them feeling they need to caregive me at the same time they need me to be their ALPHA so that they can in some way rely upon me..

It is not my task at the moment – or perhaps to ever figure out what their exact specifjc needs are in the present moment.  All I needed to know to begin to balance out the complexity of my life right now with my girls in it is that just as Dr. Neufeld explains that all young children need their adult caregivers to be the core strength and ordering and organizing factor in their lives – to “be the answer to all of their needs and questions” – my grown girls need the same thing from me.  Because I have always taken my mothering very seriously I will respond without any questioning of them.

I simply have to put and keep the spotlight of my attention when I am interacting with them entirely upon THEM and not myself as much as I possibly can.  Just as I tried to do with all of my energy when they were young I need to NOT depend on them for “friendship.”  I need to get my own needs met elsewhere (which is very hard for me right now as I have given up all that is familiar and sustaining to me as I left my “old” life behind) and NOT depend on my girls now any more than I did when I was raising them.

Both of them are extremely caring and generous in giving to me as they can regarding physical, material and tangible needs to help me get THOSE needs met.  The deeper far more complex “emotional” needs that are in play here are the ones I am describing.

So, I have some adjustments to make.  I will need to monitor my entire patterns of interactions with my girls on every level and in every way.  I will make “mistakes,” no doubt, as I figure this out.  I write about this here but I have no intention of talking to either one of my girls about this as THAT would even be me making a bid for something from them.

Just saying….  Being a parent never ends in this lifetime!

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NOTE:  This is a free blog to readers and I receive no money for its publication.  Any advertisements that appear on my posts have been placed here by WordPress and in no way represent me.

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