Can Attachment Theory Explain All Our Relationships?

Have you seen the amazing magazine article, Can Attachment Theory Explain All Our Relationships? I read it this evening and found it so thoughtful and honest, fascinating and encouraging, I just had to share it with you. In a world of bait-click, fear-mongering parenting articles everywhere you look, it's refreshing to read something realistic, moderate and rational. The author, Bethany Saltman, explores the idea of attachment, which is thought to be more important than IQ, social status, parenting style and temperament to an individual's development. She's careful to point out that attachment has nothing to do with co-sleeping, wearing your baby in a sling and breastfeeding as was made popular by Dr. Sears. No, attachment is something much different and it can form under any number of different parenting styles.

Here's a little taste:

I interviewed Jon Kabat-Zinn, the mindfulness and meditation expert who has written many books, including Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of the Mindful Parent. I think I was hoping he might encourage me to set down my burden of guilt and shame, maybe even offer a God-like let it go. But that wasn’t what happened.

Kabat-Zinn: The meaning of being a parent is that you take responsibility for your child’s life until they can take responsibility for their own life. That’s it!

Me: That’s a lot.

Kabat-Zinn: True, and it doesn’t mean you can’t get help. Turns out how you are as a parent makes a huge difference in the neural development of your child for the first four or five years.

Me: That is so frightening.

Kabat-Zinn: All that’s required, though, is connection. That’s all.

Me: But I want to be separate from my child; I don’t want to be connected all the time.

Kabat-Zinn: I see. Well, everything has consequences. How old is your child? 

Me: Four and a half.

Kabat-Zinn: Well, I gotta say, I have very strong feelings about that kind of thing. She didn’t ask to be born.

I knew then that I needed to figure out why I am the kind of mother I am, and what effect it was having on my daughter.


The article takes an in-depth look at attachment between mother and baby or child, then goes on to explore how our own attachment style impacts our adult relationships. There is even a link to a quiz you can take to learn your attachment style. What do you think? Do you follow a particular parenting style? After reading the article, do you feel that your approach to parenting fosters that all-important connection?

(Photos via New York Magazine)


  1. I love attachment theory (no surprise as I'm a therapist)! Its the single biggest thing that has impacted my understanding of my own life and relationships and I use it with every single client. As a new mother, I worry a bit that I will pass on the unhealthier sides of my own attachment style, but on the other hand, I think we all just have to do the best we can. No one makes it out of childhood completely unscathed! ~K


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