November 16

Attachment System Suppression


The parent-child bond is one of the most fundamental relationships in a person's life. It lays the foundation for emotional well-being, self-esteem, and the ability to form healthy relationships in adulthood. However, when this attachment is unhealthy or disrupted, it can have profound and long-lasting consequences on a child's emotional and psychological development. In this blog post, we'll explore the damages of an unhealthy (interrupted) parent-child attachment and shed light on the importance of nurturing this essential connection.

Dr. Childress, PsyD, operationally defines an attachment system suppression as the complete suppression of the child’s attachment bonding motivations toward a normal-range and affectionately available parent in which the children seeks to entirely sever the attachment bond with this parent. More importantly, that this is the first of the three indicators for child psychological abuse, specifically a Parent-Child Relational Problem (DSM-5, V61.20).

If you find yourself unhealthily attached to your child, or if your child has an unhealthy attachment to their other patent and is suppressed from your attachment, here are some of the many consequences: 

1. Low Self-Esteem and Self-Worth

Children who experience an unhealthy attachment with their parents often struggle with low self-esteem and a diminished sense of self-worth. When they don't receive the emotional validation and support they need, they may internalize feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness, which can persist into adulthood, affecting their self-confidence and overall mental health. If they are too attached to one parent, they can have an over idealized sense of self, creating narcissistic tendencies, feel they should be treated a certain way in the real world, and be catered to.

2. Difficulty in Forming Healthy Relationships

A strong and secure parent-child attachment serves as a blueprint for future relationships. Children who grow up with unhealthy attachments may struggle to form healthy connections with others. They may fear abandonment, struggle with trust issues, or find it challenging to express their emotions and needs openly, hindering their ability to build fulfilling relationships as adults.

3. Emotional Regulation Problems

An unhealthy parent-child attachment can lead to difficulties in regulating emotions. Children who lack a secure emotional base may struggle with anger, anxiety, and depression. These unresolved emotional issues can manifest in various ways throughout life, impacting mental well-being and overall quality of life.

4. Increased Risk of Mental Health Disorders

Research suggests that an unhealthy parent-child attachment can increase the risk of mental health disorders, including anxiety and depression. The emotional neglect or inconsistency in care (real or percieved), can contribute to the development of these conditions, which may persist into adulthood if left unaddressed.

5. Poor Academic and Professional Achievement

Children with insecure attachments may find it challenging to concentrate, set goals, and pursue academic or professional success. The lack of emotional support and encouragement can hinder their motivation and ability to thrive in these areas, potentially affecting their long-term achievements.

6. Cycles of Unhealthy Parenting

Sadly, an unhealthy parent-child attachment can perpetuate across generations. Children who grow up without secure attachments may struggle to provide their own children with the emotional nourishment they need, continuing the cycle of unhealthy parenting for generations.

...The damages of an unhealthy parent-child attachment are significant and far-reaching. However, it's essential to recognize that these consequences can be mitigated and even reversed with the right support and intervention. If you or someone you know has experienced an unhealthy parent-child attachment, seeking the right knowledge, counseling, or support groups can provide valuable tools for healing and breaking the cycle. Remember that it's never too late to work on repairing these relationships and promoting healthy attachments for a brighter, more emotionally fulfilling future. That is what we do best here at Conscious Co-Parenting Institute. Contact us today to learn more.


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