The Attachment Connection: What Single Moms Need to Know

By Ruth P. Newton, Ph.D.

attachement connectionYour child’s secure attachment to you is incredibly important for his/her future. And single mothers can certainly raise secure children. 

Through real life stories, the Attachment Connection tries to help parents become more aware of how parent sensitivity to their child’s interior world of feeling has everything to do with attachment, emotional regulation, and healthy brain development.

In fact, I wrote the Attachment Connection to bring all parents important information about raising secure children as there is now considerable evidence showing that secure children have something that insecure children don’t: they are more confident, enthusiastic, have more friends, are less angry and anxious, and are more persistent in learning. Secure children are also more empathetic, more respectful, and more emotionally regulated than insecure children. And most people know that parents have a lot to do with secure attachment in children because security comes out of the parent/child relationship.

The key is attunement. Attunement to your child’s internal world of feeling that is expressed through her body in facial expressions, eye contact, gestures, touch, and voice is incredibly important for laying a secure foundation. This nonverbal bodyworld language requires parent sensitivity to not only the physical needs of a child but his emotional needs as well.

This of course means that parents are attuned enough to their own emotions to be able to react with sensitivity to their child’s feelings. Secure attachment however doesn’t mean a life without the typical ups and downs of early childhood; it means a life where emotions and feelings are expressed, worked out, and valued.

For most parents in today’s world, finding time to “do it all” is problematic, but for single moms, this is especially true. For single moms, a strong reliable support system is absolutely a must because you are functioning as the sole primary caregiver. Serious thought needs to be given to your own support while you raise your children. Finding your right people to be there for you and your kids is critical.

Here are some thoughts about helping single mothers raise securely attached children:

There will be times when you wonder, “Why did I do this?” This is normal. But what it generally means is you need some adult time. This might mean getting a pedicure, having a night out with a friend, or getting some exercise. You will feel better about everything when you have gas in your own tank so focusing on what you need to stay emotionally regulated yourself cannot be overly empathized.

Routines create order. And single moms who are working, dropping kids off at childcare, picking up, feeding dinner, and doing bedtime routines often feel chaos creeping in the door. Children are creative and have many ideas they want to share with you. Finding a time to talk together after dinner and bath can be very satisfying for both mom and child as a bedtime routine. It can also give you a time to wind-down yourself and find your mother feelings after a hard day. I refer to this transition as finding your own right mind after an intense left-brain day.

Play together, plop on the sofa or floor together, or talk about an upcoming family event. Shifting into play on a regular basis is what makes all of us feel refreshed. Regular “right-brain shifts” will bring more vitality to you and your family.

Because children are in the process of development, much can be done to correct problems before they develop into real concerns. The Attachment Connection gives many examples of typically and atypically developing children and their families focusing on the first five years of life. I offer many ways for parents to promote secure attachment in infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, even in difficult moments. I also focus on the overall health of the family system.

As previously stated, there are many desirable benefits in raising secure children. But one of the real jewels is it makes parenting easier overall!


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