You’ll read a lot about connecting with your child. That special bond you’re supposed to have from the moment you give birth, which will last until you’re old and grey.
I personally struggled for a long time to connect with my son, Xavier. I truly believe that having had a traumatic birth (you try pushing out an 11lb 11oz baby in what they called a ‘natural way’ and not being traumatised), really affected my attachment to him. Everything about the birth was horrifying. He had to be whisked away (because he was enormous), while I crashed from the blood loss. And my poor husband. I remember seeing his worried face, and in his words “I had to take Xavier to the NICU, not knowing if I would see you alive again”. Birth is traumatic for everyone involved, including our partners.
Several articles have been written about this, and how a traumatic birth can affect the attachment you build with your child. I never knew that some women can have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, from childbirth, but of course, it makes perfect sense. And so, when therapists are struggling with either connecting with one of the kids they are working with, or are finding it difficult to understand a parent-child relationship, I always ask about the birth. We don’t realise just how much childbirth can affect us.
So, after giving ourselves a huge break, and recognising our trauma, the next step should be to have a look at how we’re doing things. Not how we’d like to do things. Or how we believe we’re doing things when we’re self flagellating. How things are really going and how we connect with people
There is lots written about attachment styles, whether you’re anxious, avoidant, disorganised or secure. And most experts believe that they are influenced by how you bonded with your own parents. This is a good place to start reading up on attachment style – understanding yourself, and the way you communicate with your kids. Mine was definitely anxious – which I think is pretty normal.
And that’s it. That’s really it – for now. Because by looking at why you are bonding with your child or struggling to do so, and how you work with people more generally, you’re laying the groundwork for effective connection. Only by understanding yourself and how you do things, can you begin to connect with someone else.
And then, on we go. I believe that the next step in connecting with your SEN child today isn’t about the bond between the two of you – but is guiding your child to feel comfortable and safe enough to connect with those around them. But more on that soon.