Although it is not a question I tend to ask during therapy, I am always interested when a client with at least two children states they do not have a favourite child. It is good to hear, however when I ask who their parents’ favourite child was, they nearly always offer a different answer.
The relationships we develop, or lack, with the most important adults in our life from birth is crucial. This is usually, but not always one of our parents. It has a direct effect on our ability to form healthy relationships with others and is one of the most important factors in defining our personality and mental health. Some therapists refer to this as Attachment theory. Copying and learning from a primary caregiver is a fundamental building block to life. Yet children are not simply a sponge. They are active learners who will internalise and practice these lessons in a way which is particular to them.
Many will grow up to have a Secure Attachment. This means that by and large they are good at maintaining relationships. It does not mean they will not be exasperated or hurt by others. However, they can recognise and protect themselves from hurtful relationships and take responsibility for their own actions. They have developed a healthy level of self-worth. Unfortunately, they are vulnerable to being manipulated by others.
Some of us will develop an Insecure Attachment. This means we lack the ability to trust that relationships, and our role in them, can be successful or that we can be happy and safe. Here are a few statements we may recognise in ourselves or others:
“Relationships always fail; it is better to be prepared because it always happens.” “I have never been listened to. No-one cares what I think.” “They will finally see that I am not good enough and find someone else.” “I do not deserve to be happy.”
These are examples of Insecure Attachments. We cannot trust our own potential to be happy in a relationship. We have the power to change this but most of us do not believe in our ability to do so. Successful therapy helps develop a sense of self-worth and our ability to trust and enjoy loving healthy relationships. Many therapists will offer compelling reasons to invest in their type of therapy. Choose the therapy and therapist you feel speaks to you.