Parent coaches emphasize the importance of bonding with your child throughout every stage in life. A healthy bond reaps so many rewards for both parent and child, with emotional health and well-being at the top of the list. Many parents seeking the help of a coach do so because the parent-child bond is fragile or damaged in some way. I have not given much thought to the subject of bonding since my kids were babies. When they were born, concerns about bonding mainly focused on sleeping arrangements and breast-feeding. While reading one of the books for my course, “Parenting Well in a Media Age: Keeping our Kids Human” by Gloria DeGaetano, I came across this fascinating bit of information on attachment:
Brain researchers are now uncovering the fact that in a bonded, emotional loving relationship a phenomena exists called “limbic resonance”. This is a special attunement between two or more people which brings comfort and shared meaning. Their limbic brains, or emotional centers, harmonize. Limbic resonance, for instance, takes place when two lovers cuddle. It’s not about sex; it’s about being in each other’s arms and breathing in sync with each other. Before long there is a relaxation response and both bodies begin to regulate in accord with each other. As the emotional centers of both brains resonate, each person experiences a meaningful relatedness.
What parent hasn’t felt this very thing while cradling their baby to sleep? I experience this sensation while snuggling my toddler, or having my preschooler sit on my lap for a story. It is exactly these moments which strenghen our connection. So bonding is not something that you establish in infancy and then it’s done. It evolves and changes as the child grows. Parents routinely have to nurture that bond.
I wonder what activities and experiences deepen the bond between me and my kids? Reflecting on this question, I came up with:
1. Physical touch – hugging, cuddling, kissing, napping together, back rubs, etc.
2. Cooking and baking together
3. Reading to them
4. Dancing and singing together
5. Entering their world of imaginative play
6. Walking in nature together
7. Working together on a creative project
8. Listening to their stories
9. Answering all of their questions with thoughtfulness
10. Telling each other jokes, laughing, and being silly together
I made this list to help myself get in touch with my feelings of love for my children. Yes, I can loose sight of it. Obviously, I love my kids. But what I’m getting at is this – how often do we experience that love on a visceral level? A limbic-level? Perhaps I need to do a better job of prioritizing the above ten items…
I’ll experiment with being more intentional about creating opportunities for bonding in the coming days and see how it goes.