Welcome to the Attachment Network of Manitoba.

This site is intended to be a portal into solid information on parent/child attachment, research, resources, trainings and workshops. Some of the material presented fits best for those who work in the field, and some of the material fits best for parents, but all of the material fits for us as human beings. We update our material regularly, so please keep checking back, and take time to leave your email with us to remain on our mailing list. Feedback and questions can be directed to [email protected]

What is Attachment?

Attachment is the capacity to form and maintain healthy emotional relationships. An attachment bond has unique properties. The capacity to create these special relationships begins in early childhood.

Attachment is a “deep and enduring emotional bond that connects one person to another across time and space”.
– John Bowlby

Our ability to create these very special relationships begins in early childhood.

Who is the Attachment Network of Manitoba?

The Attachment Network is a multi-organizational committee that is comprised of representatives from various sectors, including health, justice, education, and social services, who are interested in promoting and enhancing secure attachment across the life span.

Some important things to know about attachment…

In every relationship, there will be disruptions. Some of these will be minor and passing, and some will be deep and lasting. Disruptions are normal and unavoidable. How we fix them can strengthen and deepen our relationships. Whether between parent and child or intimate partners, having someone take the time to notice the disconnect and make an effort to reconnect with us gives us a stronger sense of security in that relationship. In fact, repair actually makes a relationship stronger. It tells us that we can make mistakes without fear of the relationship ending. Repair is an active process to be initiated by the parent, (or in a love relationship, by either partner) to soothe the wound and make the person feel safe within the relationship again.
Many new parents get overwhelmed by a mountain of parenting advice. Parenting feels like it’s become an Olympic event as we constantly compare our children’s lives and development to the children of friends and as we scramble to keep on top of the cutting-edge trends in feeding, diapering, sleeping, clothing, toys, tummy-time and, oh yeah, our emotional relationship with our child.

Here’s the good news: you don’t have to be perfect. In fact, you’re about to be surprised by just how “imperfect” you can be. Research suggests that parents need to get it right about 33% of the time. In other words, if we meet our child’s needs with sensitivity and kindness about one third of the time, our child is going to be just fine. This doesn’t mean that we can do nothing for the other 67% of the child’s day. We have to try to connect and engage with our children, we just don’t have to get it right all the time. We can make a “repair” when we get it wrong or when circumstances prevent us from meeting a need in a timely fashion. When we get it wrong, depending on the age of our child, we can do repair with a good cuddle (for little ones) or with an apology or explanation (for older kids and teens).

As parents, we’re allowed to decide how we want to raise our kids. That’s one of the privileges we get in exchange for 1000 sleepless nights, an empty wallet and a mountain of laundry. We get to decide what values we want to teach, what kind of food they eat, what activities they do, etc. If, as a parent, you want to breastfeed your baby, you get to do that. If you are not able to breastfeed or choose to feed your baby with a bottle, you get to do that. You can choose cloth or disposable diapers. None of these choices will cause the authorities to come knocking at your door and here’s why: none of these choices will affect the most important thing that needs to happen for our children, which is to form a secure attachment to one person -YOU- in this big, confusing world. That’s all. Children form secure attachments with parents who breast AND bottle feed, with parents who wear them and don’t wear them and with parents who use cloth diapers or disposable diapers. Striving for perfection can result in anxious, worn-out, guilt-ridden parents, who frankly don’t make very good playmates! So Moms, Dads and caregivers, all we need is to be “Good Enough”. Just go have fun!
When we think about attachment, we often think of parents and babies, but that’s just where it begins! For sure, in the early years, as the child’s brain is developing, a secure attachment gives that child an optimal foundation for all future development and relationships. But as we get older, we don’t stop needing to be ‘in relationship’. Parents of teens often feel that this is a time to start letting go of their kids – we may even believe that they don’t really need us anymore. In truth, although we may need to loosen the reins and renegotiate our relationship with our teens, they need us as much as ever.

Our very first attachment relationship, usually with our parents, provides us with a blueprint for how people behave in relationships We never outgrow the need for attachment, the need to have connection with people who will nurture and protect us. Depending on how that early attachment experience went, we each reach adulthood with a set of strategies for dealing with stress and navigating close relationships. Sometimes these strategies bring us closer to one another, but sometimes they can hinder our ability to experience true intimacy. Many couples’ counsellors, inspired in large part by the ground-breaking work of Dr. Sue Johnson, now view attachment as the way to help couples understand their struggles. She encourages couples to see that many of our behaviours are driven by unmet emotional needs, particularly the need for connection. Even in our declining years, we stay healthier if we stay socially and emotionally connected to others. Simply put, across the lifespan, we never stop longing for connection.
Decades of research tells us that children who are securely attached to a caregiver enjoy greater resilience in the face of stress and better outcomes in virtually every area of life. The folks at Circle of Security International have summarized this nicely for us.

The Difference that Makes a Difference

After 50 years of research we know that the more secure children are, the more they are able to:

Enjoy more happiness with their parents Feel less anger at their parents Turn to their parents for help when in trouble Solve problems on their own Get along better with friends Have lasting friendships Solve problems with friends Have better relationships with brothers and sisters Have higher self-esteem Know that most problems will have an answer Trust that good things will come their way Trust the people they love Know how to be kind to those around them

Circle of Security © 1999 For copyright information go to www.circleofsecurity.net

 

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Attachment 101

Is your community group or not-for-profit organization interested in learning about attachment? The Attachment Network of Manitoba offers a brief, introductory workshop (1 to 2 hours), for a suggested donation commensurate with your organization’s ability to pay. Please email us at [email protected] to request a workshop.

Attachment Network Streaming DVDs

Attachment Network Hard Copy DVDs

We would like to acknowledge the Attachment Network of Manitoba is located on Treaty 1 territory and we gather on the traditional territory of the Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota and Dene peoples, and the homeland of the Metis Nation.


The Attachment Network of Manitoba is a registered Canadian charity.
Registered Charitable Number: 83531 8494 RR 0001