Mary Main examined how parents internalized their early connections and experiences and, thus, how they related in the present. She outlines four typical patterns emerged:
Parenting Attachment Therapy & Counselling
# 1 Autonomous
Children of these kinds of parents are generally securely attached. They are described as self-reliant, objective, insightful, and able to incorporate both positive and painful memories into their narrative. These parents seem to have a balanced and realistic view of what it means to relate to others.
# 2 Dismissive
Children of these kinds of parents generally have an ‘avoidant attachment pattern’. Parents considered dismissive in their attachment pattern recall their early attachments with their parents as indifferent. They may idealize parents but do not recount the closeness of the relationships. These parents are typically a little more detached, appear strong and independent but hold onto feelings of disappointment and hurt.
# 3 Preoccupied
Children of these kinds of parents generally display an ‘ambivalent attachment pattern’. Parents considered preoccupied in their attachment pattern tend to be confused about their past relationships and struggle with recounting their experiences. They can become flooded with memories that elicit feelings of anger and conflict about a desire to please, which are sometimes hard to manage.
# 4 Disorganized
Their children tend to also display ‘disorganized patterns of attachment’. Parents considered disorganized in their attachment display a myriad of patterns remembering their early childhood experiences. Often these parents have experienced early childhood traumas, abuse and/or neglect.
Main’s research on attachment patterns and how they are transmitted helps us understand the process by which our parents become a part of us and we become a part of our children.
Our programs and therapists help parents identify their attachment patterns and strategically coach them towards strong attachment relationships that will strengthen the child’s sense of self and their place in their world.