When we’re babies, we need a safe place from which to explore the world. If we’re lucky, our parents provide this, and we grow up feeling confident about going off on our own, knowing that there’s always somewhere to go back to when things get difficult.
This is called attachment and, depending on our childhood experiences, we can grow up with different attachment styles. We carry these into adulthood , so it’s helpful to understand what they are and how they can affect our couple relationships:
One of the reasons childhood attachment styles can have such a powerful effect on adult relationships is that they give us expectations of how people will respond to us. Even when our expectations are challenged, we tend to trust our own beliefs and it can be difficult to break out from something we’ve learned at such a young age .
As well as the impact on your couple relationship, your attachment style can affect the way you interact with your child as a parent. With a secure attachment style, you’re more likely to be able to be open with your child and offer the kind of nurturing care that they need. But, if you or your partner have an insecure attachment, it can be much more difficult to know how to respond to a distressed child. How do you provide a safety net that wasn’t there for you?
The good news is that one partner with a secure attachment style can be a positive support for another partner with an insecure style. This means that if you feel more secure than your partner, you can offer support to help them work through some of the difficulties they may be having .
By becoming aware of the different attachment styles, you can start to notice your own patterns in the way you interact with your partner  . This can then help you recognise where you might need to seek extra support. Social support from friends and family can be great, but it’s also important to address the beliefs and feelings behind an insecure attachment  .
Lots of parenting programmes help parents to deal with this, so it may be useful to find out what’s available in your area. Good places to look include your local children’s centre, community centre or faith centre, and your GP may also be able to point you in the right direction. It’s never too late to learn how to be warm, open, available and responsive to those who need you most.
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 Millings, A., Walsh, J., Hepper, E., & O’Brien, M. (2013). Good partner, good parent: Responsiveness mediates the link between romantic attachment and parenting style. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 39, 170-180.