Monday, December 5, 2011

Review: Building the Bonds of Attachment

This book was recommended to me by a friend.  It has been such a source of light and reassurance for me.  We adopted our daughters seven and a half years ago.  Many of the suggestions and explanations for this parent-based/therapist assisted approach to helping children work through their issues and come to a point of trusting another person have been how my husband and I have dealt with all of our children.  The depths of importance this holds in helping an abused or neglected child sink all the deeper. If you read this book, no doubt many of you will find this highly counter-cultural. I particularly appreciated Stephen's role (the social worker) in the book.  His observations and questions, as well as honest, contrasting thoughts mirrored so much what I have felt I was/am dealing with.  He provided the voice that says, "Are you sure?" "Wouldn't it be better to...?" And served as counter-point for almost every decision made, providing an opportunity for explanation of reason.  What we do cannot be understood from the other side, although he was open to learning.  Oftentimes, he felt that a softer, gentler approach would better serve the child. It takes a tremendous amount of faith and love to retain the dedication of seeing the course through with a hurt child, and sometimes it looks very different than the "norm."

I found immense comfort and support here.  I'm not a perfect Mom by any stretch, but it is my life's calling and I've always felt it to be a true honor.  Many of the precepts found within this book are guidelines and decisions that I have made purposely with all of my children, before and after adoption was added to my mothering role.  For instance, early on I truly wrestled with how to handle the issue of praise and pride.  Celebrating accomplishments and cheering on advances are natural responses as your little ones grow and learn.  However, I didn't want them to develop any sort of idea that my love for them was dependent upon their success, nor an unhealthy inner teeter-totter of self-esteem that rose and fell with scores and accolades.  I chose to focus on loving them, lavishly and sincerely.  I was honest in assessments and feedback, aiming for gentleness in truth, looking for something to highlight. I rather avoided the words proud or pride as a rule, and praise was aimed at encouraging an inner eye to their own character, nature, and workings.  This book understands the intricate importance of such a large subject and doesn't agree with the common knee-jerk reaction of puffing our children up with false accolades so that they don't know the meaning and rewards of work, effort, and consummation.   Attainment of goals, simple contentment from doing your very best even if the mark fell short, or the self-awareness that no, you really didn't try as hard as you could have, all these are appreciations that must be acquired by striving - nobody presents them to us pre-packaged.  Knowing yourself comes through the grunts and strains on the wrestling mat, not the smooth hand off of a relay match.  For a child who was deprived of healthy, vital attention these are understandings all the more difficult to teach down the road.  Thank God we are here to try.

This book has also helped to open my eyes and heart to some of the maddening behaviors we are currently dealing with. ;D  From our first meeting, I have felt the myriad of questions accompany each puzzle and cloud.  Is it me?  Personality clashes?  Character issues?  The past which is a fog to me, and I don't know what to them?  Adoption related?  Growing up pains?  The recognition and resonance with what I live with brought me deeper clarity and understanding.  I am very grateful for this resource, and recommend it to all families, especially adoptive families - and those who love them.

Shared at Above Rubies, Time Warp Wife, Works for Me Wednesday, Simple Lives Thursday


  1. How very hard it is even with our bio-kids, to know what is the proper amount of softness v. firmness, and how to balance our own experiences with the unknown of theirs. I've known you a pretty long time, and I have to say, your gentle manner combined with a firm hand, have always been something I've strove for, yet have fallen short. But we keep plugging, because every drop of love we pour in changes and forms them, no matter what they came to us with! It comes down to trust. Building it so they know exactly what to expect, especially when coming from a tumultuous past. xoxox lovely words, once again!

  2. You are a wonderful Mom, Audrey. Your commitment resonates with your children. One of the things I have always loved most about you is your earnest searching heart and an obvious discontent with simply bumping along. Intentionality vibrates from within you. Keep plugging away!