The Gift of Grief

In our society, you are revered when you ‘don’t let your emotions get the best of you.”  Grief is rarely talked about openly and is considered taboo. The average bereavement time a person receives after the loss of a family member is around 3 days and that might be generous. Three days is just enough time to attend the funeral/memorial services but not enough to mourn, yet we are expected to return to our jobs and lives without missing a beat and be fully functional. The loss of a family member is a devastating experience that alters a person for the remainder of their lives.  Grief can encompass many losses in your life such as divorce, loss of a job, house or a stage of life.   Even with good changes, there is still a feeling of sadness and loss of what was.  Grief is relative.  Some people say that divorce is like a death, and it is in the aspect that your hopes and expectations die, such as of growing old with your partner and being a support to one another.  However, with the change and death of a relationship, you still have a choice on how you want your Ex to be a part of your life going forward. When you lose a family member to actual death, you have no choice.  You have no choice on burying the hatchet in the future, sharing time or a conversation with each other, or co-parenting.  These are all choices that you still have, whether you choose to exercise them or not.

We don’t talk about grief, unless it comes in the form of a divorce or loss of a job, things we know we can replace.  Your grief will unknowingly make people uncomfortable.  It’s easier for people to digest the loss of a job, house or relationship because they often come with inspirational sayings such as, ‘when one door closes another one opens,’ or ‘you’ll get a better job, there’s someone better suited for you out there’ and on and on.  But, when you lose someone to death, the people around you won’t know what to say or what to do, some may even disappear from your life.  As you attempt to step outside of your grief for a brief moment and into your old routine seeking some normalcy or respite from your new reality, people may wonder ‘how can they do (that),’ ‘why aren’t they at home grieving,’ ‘there’s no way I could do that?’  This will  have little to do with you, and more to do with the person’s difficulty and inability in dealing with the enormity of the situation and sometimes their own emotions. The secondary experience of grief may feel too intimate, too real for someone in your orbit.  I don’t necessarily think this is a fault, it is just a response, some people just can’t be present to another person’s pain or because they can’t take your pain away and fix it.  Grief can make the people around you take stock in their own lives, questioning what is real and worthy in their own lives and this is uncomfortable for most everyone regardless of the circumstances that precipitated it.

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross has identified the 5 stages of grief, but know there is no right or wrong way to grieve there is only your way. The stages of grief are fluid.  You might stay in one stage much longer than other stages, you may go back and forth between the stages and right when you think and feel you’re at the tail end to acceptance, you might circle right back to the beginning stage during your grief. Because of this, grief can feel like it’s The Never-ending Story or Groundhog Day the movie only not a fantasy nor funny. Grief isn’t linear and if you think it is, you are being a disservice to yourself and others.


One thing for sure is that grief will change you in some may. One never really heals from the loss, instead you accept the circumstance.  To ‘heal’ would suggest that you are the same as before the loss, that you will never feel the pain or think of the loss.  You may be able to organize the loss in such a way that it ‘makes sense’ to you, but you can’t really go back to who you were prior to losing someone close to you.  The term, “Time Heals All Wounds’ really isn’t true.  What Time gives you is the opportunity to accept the reality of the loss and get comfortable with not seeing, hearing, speaking to or sharing milestones with your loved one.

The loss of a loved one can set the stage for self-examination and can be an opportunity to re-evaluate what is important to you.  What you value may become crystal clear to you and others.  This is the biggest gift because the loss may propel you to live as authentic and honest as you want. Forget about living via the constructed expectations of society, family, friends, or self.

Loss will change you, even when you think it hasn’t.  The experience of losing someone you love is traumatic and therefore will alter you in some way. You will be changed regardless of how much you want to be yourself prior to the loss. Loss is experienced viscerally in the depths of your nervous system. The bigger the shock the bigger the trauma. Put it in simpler terms, shock gets experienced by your body (nervous system) and becomes registered in your long-term memory. Once an overwhelming experience becomes locked in your long-term memory, you register it as trauma. Because this trauma is recorded in the limbic system, your behavior may change based on subconscious experience.  For instance, abandonment and trust issues may be amplified.  Such as, ‘I don’t (subconsciously) trust you to be here for me, you will leave me, I can’t rely on you.’  Have compassion for yourself.




The loss of a family member is devastating, even when a loved one has lived a long life. To lose a parent is tantamount to losing the foundation beneath you. You are having to grapple with the loss of your life-long and unconditional support/love and not being ‘taken care of’ any longer even though you’ve been self-sustaining for years and also have your own family. To lose a child, well, I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.  To lose a sibling is like losing your childhood, your camaraderie.

For myself, the loss of my brother in my teens changed me and family. It is no wonder that I became fascinated with psychology with ‘what makes people tick’ and spirituality with ‘what does all of this mean?’ in a search to answer my own internal questions.  Since the loss, what I value most is Time, family and real, honest conversations.  I value the time that I have and others take to spend together, however mundane.  I also value deeper conversations with others, so I have little interest in the superfluous conversations.  Money, things, jobs I can always replace, but I can never get back Time to spend with my brother.


What or whom have you lost?

What do you value most now?


Know that:

You will laugh again, for real.

You will feel joy again.

Your life may change to exemplify what is truly important to you.

Your empathy may increase.

Remember to:  Be patient with yourself. To love yourself. To have compassion for yourself.


The Surrogate Spouse

Recently, The New York Times flubbed and called Ivanka the wife of her father.  An honest mistake, some people say, while others may think this was premeditated.  Immediately when I saw that in the news, I thought ‘yep, surrogate spouse.’  The New York Times may have made a mistake but they actually called out a dysfunctional family dynamic that impacts many children and later, adults.  Usually family dynamics are played out in dramatic fiction in TV shows or movies, but with this WH administration (family) we get to see family dynamics play out in real life and not a scripted ‘reality’ show.  We get to observe what it looks like to have a father, husband, and co-worker who is a narc, and it’s educational.

What is a surrogate spouse?

The parent uses the child to fulfill his/her own emotional needs.  Some therapists also call this Emotional Incest, which is a ‘harsher’ term for people to swallow, grapple with or acknowledge that they were or still are a surrogate spouse.  Please hear,  children don’t know nor do they have a say in this dynamic. Adults often don’t realize that they are playing the role of spouse because this is all they’ve known since childhood.

What creates a surrogate spouse? Remember this begins in childhood, but it begins within the dysfunctional marriage/relationship between ADULTS.   Let’s say the narcissist (husband) loves to work and travels for work so much so that he buries himself into work creating a distance within his marriage.  That’s not the only reason, throw in consistent infidelity and verbal abuse (constant criticisms and expectations) and his wife will begin to distance herself for self-preservation.   Over time, there is a division between husband and wife and the kids pick up on it.  When the husband is away working, traveling, using alcohol, drugs or with multiple women, the wife (or husband) is left with the family/kids.  This division creates teams, with the spouse and kids on one end and the narc on the other.  (Ivanka’s mother has stated Trump didn’t want anything to do with the children while they were small.  We can also see this with his child (she’s a young adult) from his second marriage as well as his third with Melania.  As they are not in his family business, you rarely see Trump with these kids unless there’s a photo op.)  So, while the narcissist spouse is out doing exactly what they want when they want, their spouse is left with the family.  You’re married but not really married because it’s not a partnership.  The spouse becomes lonely.  

Here’s where Enmeshment comes in.

Like narcissism, Enmeshment is a continuum. Enmeshment is a subject on its own, but it’s basically a relationship between parent and child that has little to no boundaries, which means a child can be enmeshed in various ways and can be enmeshed by both parents.  You can be enmeshed through working for the family business, having to live into and up to the expectations of the dominant (controlling) parent ( in this case Trump).  You can be enmeshed by becoming (or rather used) as your parent’s confidant and emotional caretaker.

Let’s continue with the example.  Once the spouse becomes lonely, she (he) will confide in their child(ren)    leaving the child to take care of his/her parents feelings. Maybe the spouse confides that she/he is unhappy in the marriage because their father/mother are never around.  Maybe the spouse begins to rely on his/her children for advice and emotional comforting.  The spouse may also rely on their child by doing things with their child because their husband/wife is unavailable (like going out for a meal/movie/travel) that the spouse really wants to experience.  Instead of cancelling the plans,  going alone or with friends, the spouse instead takes their child/children.   How often do you think Trump’s wives travelled solely with their children, without Trump in tow?

As a child/teen, a surrogate spouse, may provide advice, counsel and be the confidant to their parent regarding dating, relationships, sex and household responsibilities.  This can look like the parent confiding to their child how miserable they are in their marriage and how their spouse is ‘never’ around or available.  This can also look like a parent confiding in their child/teen about their sex life or dating life, asking for advice and opinions on partners or even asking/expecting the child/teen to keep secrets of infidelity.  These are adult subjects and behaviors that should be discussed between adults and specifically between spouses.  (It was reported that Ivanka once told her father as a teen not to date anyone younger than her.  Clearly, Ivanka knew certain information and insight into her father at an early age.). Being a surrogate spouse is not really a good or beneficial role for a child or adult child to play.  This role can come between marriages, with adult surrogate spouses more concerned and playing the husband or wife to their parent rather than their own spouse. Therefore, creating the pattern all over again in their own family system. 

Here’s what I see, Ivanka is clearly the favorite and her Dad would probably do most anything for her (have you noticed in the media that his sons are basically in the background while Ivanka and her husband take front and center?).  It’s ironic, I know, but how his daughter views him is extremely important, so Trump is probably more willing to bend in the direction of his daughter.  He wants to be seen in a positive light by his daughter.  Yes, it’s still about image, his image.

However.  Here is the plus for us, the people of these divided United States.  Ivanka has played and does play the surrogate spouse to her father.  You can see this through her campaigning for her father, doing interviews on behalf of her father, attending women’s conferences and sitting in on ‘Heads of States’ functions, duties usually designated for wives and First Ladies.  Ivanka is now an adviser to her father, which sent many people and the media in an uproar.  Anyone familiar with family dynamics and narcs will know that this is NO surprise.  Narcs don’t trust, so to employ his family as advisors is only predictable. However against I am with employing family members in the WH simply because it reeks of the emperor-dictator vibe,  I am slightly relieved that Ivanka is officially his confidant and here’s why.  She is the one person her father will listen to.   Ivanka can tell her father No without him going ballistic on her and he is likely to listen to her advice, which I do think and hope is more humanistic than her father’s (or Bannon’s).  Her advice may not all be good, but I bet you, her father would be more likely to make changes in his staff and to his decisions based on her advice.  He may think in the Now, as in how does this benefit me now, while she may think in legacy terms as in how will this look upon us in the long-term.  We’ll see tho…..


It really does take a village….

“You can tell the wealth of a nation/country by how well its women and children are treated.”

Ok, I don’t remember who said this, but this quote speaks volumes.  The connection between mother and child is paramount to your development.  Needless to say, your development impacts society as a whole.  Our connection to our mothers has been found to impact our overall current and long-term health and well-being. Studies have linked stress levels in children to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, anxiety and addiction (Neil Schneiderman, Gail Ironson, and Scott D. Siegel).  This is not to negate the role of fathers, by any means. Fathers are, of course equally important (we’ll get to that later in another post), but the focus is on women today due to 1. Women being the ones actually carrying to term and giving birth and 2. Women still being the majority primary care-giver.  Because the connection between mother and child is paramount to development, we must look at the environmental factors that can impact this bond or connection.  BTW, environmental factors don’t start for the child when they are birthed, it begins in utero, but that’s another post also.  There’s so much stuff to get to!

Sustained subtle stressors = trauma.  Overwhelming stress = trauma. Stress and trauma impacts you, because it impacts/impacted your development in some way. If stress and trauma impacted/impacts you, your relationships and your health (mental, emotional, physical) are all also impacted.   In a nutshell, environmental factors and your connection with your mother (and father) impact your health, work and relationships

In this country, we have been conditioned to think in terms of  ‘I,’ ‘Me,’ ‘My’ and ‘Mine.’ We think about how something (system, experience) or someone can help or hinder Me and My family. We don’t think about how a system, circumstance or experience will impact the ‘We,’ ‘Us,’ or ‘Our.’ This is the reductionist, individualist, competitive social society that doesn’t fully foster or allow for Connection. However, Connection (attachment) is about all of us as connection contributes to the strength and health of a nation (society).

We’ve read of studies about connection as it relates to loneliness and the negative effects on physical health and an increase in depression.  Studies have indicated that the stress and trauma a child experiences can contribute to their physical, mental and emotional health as an adult. Stress and trauma can contribute to the rise of addiction, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. In addition, stress and trauma have been linked to anxiety, depression and other mood disorders (Neil Schneiderman, Gail Ironson, and Scott D. Siegel). Our healthcare system is and has been at a crux with the increase of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke being among the top ten killers as well as the increase of drug/alcohol use and addiction contributing to a rise in death rates primarily among White Americans. These are for the most part, preventable diseases.

If we as a society began to view parent-child connections (relationships) and the systems that can support the relationship as a necessity to the long-term productivity, success and health of our society, then we (society) can begin to alter our long-term health and healthcare system through preventative care. The probability of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and addiction would likely be reduced, due to the reduction of stress endured, therefore reducing the long-term need and long-term cost of maintenance band-aid healthcare.

I don’t know who the Artist is to give credit.

What systems (communities) impact the connection (relationship) between parent and child?

Childcare. Childcare is expensive.  Infant childcare can range between $5,000+ to $16,000 a year depending on which state you live in.  Childcare, on average takes 10%-25% of the yearly joint income of a married couple, while single moms have to spend 30%-80% of their yearly income on childcare.  HALF! of your yearly income just on CHILDCARE! so moms can go to work to provide for their families.  For a family on or near the poverty line? They’re looking at an average of 50%- above 100% of their income on childcare.  This means, that people on or near the poverty line ‘spend’ what they don’t have on childcare, or the cost of childcare is contributing to their financial loss.  This. shit. is. CRAZY. when you look at the numbers.  The yearly cost of childcare is often running close to or near the cost for one year of in-state college tuition.  Living pay-check to pay-check increases the stress which often trickles down to children with parents unable to be physically and emotionally present due to working long hours/multiple jobs and then coming home to do the cooking, cleaning etc. How present would you be?  You can view the cost of childcare in each state at

Healthcare.  This is a no-brainer.  Infants and children need to go to the doctor, many might be for emergency purposes.  Needless to say, adults also need medical care without going into debt or becoming bankrupt.  Prior to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) maternity care was NOT covered AT ALL, which meant being a woman was a pre-existing condition!  In addition to maternity care, Family Planning  is also necessary. Family planning including insurance covered, free or minimal cost for birth control as well as the right to choose for having a baby.  Taking away funding for Planned Parenthood sets up an increase in possible STI’s and an increase in unwanted children coming into this world  with little financial means or emotional development to support the child (teen pregnancy).   There are 14.5 million children living in poverty in this country today and lack of funding for Planned Parenthood would only increase these numbers.  How can one be against abortion yet be ok with taking away universal maternity care as well as meals for children?  Aren’t infants and children just as valuable as a fetus? With universal healthcare,  women and children would get the care they need, without the nagging worry about going bankrupt or further into debt.  Personally, an overhaul of the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries should be held accountable and tackled.   We’re coming up on tax day, and believe me, every year I throw my fists up into the air cursing Uncle Sam.  However, I’m all for universal healthcare and education even with higher taxes. At least these great financial burdens would be lifted and I (we) would get a direct payoff instead of my taxes contributing to corporate wealth.  I know many people are against universal healthcare, but can someone tell me how Cuba, a country with universal healthcare and education, yet considered well below the economic growth rate has created a vaccine (Cimavax) to halt the spread of lung cancer?  One of the deadliest cancers? Yet, billions have been raised for the Komen foundation for breast cancer, and yet there’s still no cure?  Can someone say Profits over people?

Ok, off my soapbox…Next.

Paid Maternity Leave.  Not just maternity leave, but Paid Maternity Leave. Having a newborn is one of the greatest gifts and joys, yet employs the biggest stressors.  As a parent, you are on duty 24/7 no matter what.  Your underlying feeling is worry.  Worry that you’ll be a good parent, worry that you provide for your child, that they get a good education, worry that you raised a good functional child into adulthood, worry that your child is safe especially when you have no control.  As your children become adults, you worry less and less often but the underlying worry is never-ending. Well, until you die.  But I digress. Having a newborn is stressful and a complete change of your life. Paid maternity leave is important in establishing a connection/bond with your infant through holding, cradling, feeding, soothing, eye contact, speaking, bathing, cleaning etc.  All of these actions are bonding, especially breast-feeding.  Maternity leave would allow for bonding between parent and child without the stress of financially providing by having to rush back to work.  Some people get three weeks paid, some get 6 weeks, while others get 3 months and others get leave without pay.  3- 6 weeks are not enough. Three months leave, much better.  Paid maternity leave is needed for every family, but for the single mom (dad) and the parent with minimal support, it is imperative.

Which brings us to….

Equal Pay (and a Livable Minimum Wage).  US Department of Labor states that 57% of women work outside of the home. Statistics share that women make .60-.86 cents to every dollar a man makes, with women of color (Black, Latina) making the least. This impacts all women and especially single moms who carry the majority of responsibility for day-to-day child rearing.  For the single parent household, the stress of financially providing for your child and the stress of keeping the job is most likely increased (overwhelm), which impacts the connection between your child. Women will lose 800+ BILLION dollars! this year alone due to inequality in pay. If the Equal Pay rights became law, this would greatly benefit women, single women and single moms by reducing  financial stress with the ability to provide more for their child or children.  In addition, many families have to work 2-3 jobs just to make ends meet and often that isn’t enough.  Here’s where the livable wage increase happens.  Wages have NOT increased with inflation through the years contributing to the 14.5 million children living in poverty.  Kids not receiving basic care, such as food, healthcare and for some, shelter. Basic needs.  I don’t know why this isn’t an outrage in America and with our politicians.

Yes, these are all separate issues affecting women, but these are all connected.  These systems are environmental factors that impact the well-being and development of children.  To think that a child’s development is solely impacted by the individual family is not seeing the entire picture for child rearing and development.

The lack of these systems being made available to support parents can contribute to increased stress.  You’ve read multiple times already in this blog, that’s how important it is.  Sustained stress becomes a form of trauma and therefore affects your reasoning which impacts your ability to think rationally. Stress also affects your emotions (i.e. being quick to anger, lashing out at your child or your partner), and affects your behavior with coping mechanisms like alcohol, drugs, food, tv, phone, FB and anything else to checkout (Frone, M; Russell, M; Cooper, M. Lynne,  1997).  Stress taken alone doesn’t sound so insidious, but sustained stress is deadly.

I could’ve written separate blogs regarding each system, but that would take this subject and make it linear with a one-dimensional view, when in reality many systems impact mother-child (parent-child) bonds.  Furthermore, when we see that there are many elements to supporting women and children, thus society as a whole, then maybe we can see that we are all connected and it really does take a village.  Maybe then, we are liable to take action in the direction of the whole rather than the individual.


The Avoidant Relational Style



Ahhh..the avoidant relational style. This is the opposite extreme of the Anxious.  The Anxious style needs to be close and needs to be in relationship.  The Avoidant is, well, opposite.  The avoidant pushes away, looks away.  This relational style is relatively easy to identify simply because Avoidant’s don’t do emotions and feelings very well, their own or another’s.

Attachment theory suggests toddlers/children who show no preference for who provides nurturing are avoidant relational style. When the parents left the room, the child did not become distressed, instead, the child simply noticed his parents weren’t there and went back to what he was doing. Furthermore, the child had no preference and was able to be consoled by ‘anyone.’

There are two rules of thought of what may contribute to the Avoidant relational style.  Some children may enjoy playing alone and some children adapt to playing alone.  For a child to find themselves playing often alone, makes me wonder.  I wonder does the child have anyone else to play with, and I wonder how engaged are the parents? Are the parents reading and spending time with their child or are they making their child take care of his/her own emotional/play needs?  Were ‘I Love you’s,’  hugs, physical comforting expressed consistently and freely, or were they sparse?  A consistent lack in these areas can contribute to a child’s avoidant style.

Because adult Avoidant’s don’t do well with emotions, as a child, he may have had to suppress his emotions or have had to be responsible at a young age. For example, a child that has been beaten and abused may not have had the protection and comforting of another family member. So, how did the child take care of his emotions?  Who did she go to for comfort if there was no-one to go to? How does a child survive and adapt to such a situation? He finds solace within his own company and stuff’s/shut’s off his emotions.  To adapt further, he performs. Performs by doing anything and everything that would prevent him from being beaten again, such as becoming the perfect child. Another example would be the child has taken on responsibility at a young age, becoming her parent’s confidant or surrogate spouse.  Maybe she has had to protect her dad from her mother’s verbal abuse and console her dad, becoming a surrogate spouse to her father, filling the emotional void vacated by her father’s wife (her mother).  This experience is a lot of responsibility for a child.

How does the above translate to adult Avoidant relational style?  Avoidant’s push away, look away in relationship, they enjoy their time alone, control or controlling behavior may be an issue, they may take more time alone or withdraw when feeling overwhelmed, preferring to take care of themselves rather than reach out, so trust and trusting others is also an issue.  They may often prefer time alone, rather than be with other people, which can include family.  What is interesting about this relational style, is Avoidant’s often don’t present as avoidant in the early stages of relationship. Avoidant’s can start out strong in the beginning of a relationship because of the newness and excitement. He/she will want to be with you, call you, make all the time for you.  The avoidant may present and appear as Anxious style, wanting to spend a lot of time with you, courting you, while you’re thinking, “This is great! She’s open, present, and emotionally available.”  However, once the newness and masks fall off, the avoidant is left with the realness of their partner and the beginnings of intimacy which equal to ‘your demands and the demands of the relationship.’   This is uncomfortable because connection (relationship) requires the Avoidant to be present, open and engaged with her partner.

Avoidants often become uncomfortable with emotions, so if you’re dealing with a situation that is emotional (positive or negative) for you, such as a loss of family member, loss/change of job, birth of a child etc, he will most likely have difficulty offering emotional support because he doesn’t know how to deal with his own emotions.   Some avoidants just don’t know what to do and other avoidants don’t have much empathy. As such, emotional situations can be a catalyst for the avoidant to check out of the relationship.

The avoidant will subtly create some distance between himself and his partner.  Distance often looks like using work, alcohol, drugs, spending more time with friends, having multiple partners (affairs), getting lost in tv/phone/games- anything that will take him away from the relationship. Intimacy becomes a threat to the avoidant.  The avoidant would be perfectly happy living under the same roof with his partner, yet living separately, that way he still feels secure WITHOUT having to be present emotionally or providing emotional support for his partner.  Needless to say, his partner will often feel lonely within the relationship unless he’s paired up with another avoidant.  That could be bliss, a meeting of the minds and practicality.

The homework for the avoidant: To engage, or re-engage in relationship on a consistent basis without becoming overwhelmed. Meaning, you re-engage to the point right before you feel overwhelmed (you want to push away) then you take a break (disengage) but come back into the relationship.    This can be done through communication (with eye contact) or physical touch such as hand holding, cuddling, or hugs.


FYI: If you think just because someone habitually posts stuff on Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter doesn’t make them not Avoidant, think again.  Many individuals find solace in displaying their lives on social media, yet struggle with connecting in real life.

As always, I hope this helps.

Attachment Theory Explained through the Senses- Part 2


Attachment theory is based on the connection between parent and child. How we connect to our parents can impact how we connect as adults to partner’s as well as impact our long term health and well-being. Part 1 discussed the importance of eye contact and touch in development.  Here’s part 2.

Voice (Tone/language).


Often when we speak to our baby (babies), we often use a rhythmic or melodic tone.  This also builds a comforting connection with your baby because it is soothing. Tone is important obviously, because tone can also be rage filled, angry, or aggressive etc and your child’s nervous system will pick up on that too as it is stress inducing.


Reading to your baby/child has been the foundation for early childhood education.  Every teacher knows that reading and engaging your child in conversation helps to engage your child’s brain, creating more neural networks (brain pathways). In doing so, it increases your child’s learning ability.  There have been studies regarding the differences in learning abilities of children from affluent environments and less affluent environments, with children from affluent environments flourishing in school while children from the less affluent environments have difficulties excelling.  How does this happen?  There are various layered reasons or contributing factors as to why children from more affluent environments have been found to have greater learning abilities, but I’m only going to address one aspect contributing to this issue: Stress.  Stress impacts your connection with your child.  Stress impacts every connection in your life, period.

Here’s how stress can impact the child’s learning abilities.  A parent(s) from a lower socio-economic situation is concerned with the basic survival of their family.  In addition to raising their child and worrying about their well-being, parents from a lower socioeconomic background have the stress of making/finding enough money to pay the bills and put food on the table etc.  Single parents can go in this category too.  The more stressed you are, the more limited you get in your thinking.  Meaning, you don’t have the time, space or the luxury to contemplate the meaning of (your) life.  This can carry over unknowingly in how a parent interacts and engages with their child.  One’s scope gets smaller under stress and that can include language. The parent may be focused on “don’t do that, you can’t do that, stop it, be quiet etc.”   If this is the most of the conversation you have with your child, then your child’s vocabulary will reflect that, limited vocabulary.  Lack of engagement also impacts the brain’s development where the brain becomes pruned in that area (no new brain networks are created), limiting their learning abilities as they grow older.  Expand your child’s language through conversation and reading and you expand their ability to learn. With each conversation, you’re  helping your child create new brain neural connections and pathways.  From an attachment perspective, when you’re reading and engaging with your child, you’re also being present with them, connecting with them.  This is something that you can do and change right now, in your own home.  Teachers can only do so much.

Which brings us to Energy.  This isn’t one of the 5 tangible senses but it’s important because it’s about being present, energetically present to your baby/child. I know it’s impossible to be 100% present 100% of the time, but in the field of attachment (connection) we’re concerned more with consistency and quality.   Many adults will often say, “My child is too young to realize what’s going on.”  Ummmm…yes they do.  Children/babies soak up their environment and their experiences through their senses and nervous system (body memory).

A parent can be physically present but not energetically/emotionally present and various behaviors can contribute to a sense of disconnect, such as depression, addiction (including workaholic), substance abuse, video games etc.   This can translate into a parent being physically present yet emotionally/energetically distant and unavailable.  Some of you reading can relate personally to this, or some of you can relate by the men/women you attract into your life.  If you’re still negating the energy aspect of this:  Think of a time you spoke to someone, a family member, partner, spouse or co-worker. As you spoke, they bobbed their head to acknowledge they were listening, however, you could feel or sense that they weren’t really listening to you. They were physically present, but not energetically present to you and you felt a disconnect in that moment.   It’s the same for a baby/child.

Lastly, smell.   Babies can identify you and connect through their sense of smell. Having a blankie with your smell on it as they go off to childcare will keep your baby connected to you through smell.

In the theory of attachment, connection is the name of the game.  Connection = Better Health.

Attachment Theory Explained Through the Senses- Part 1


I’ve been interested in attachment theory since I studied the theory during my master’s program. I look at the world through the eyes of attachment (connection),  how that connection can be altered or disrupted,  how does connection or lack there of affect a child’s development (and adult) and how can it help us heal.  I know, it sounds like I’m in a proverbial existential crisis.  For me, attachment is actually the science of spirituality of all things being connected. So, let’s get started.

Attachment theory was created by John Bowlby and further studied with Mary Ainsworth. Attachment theory is basically the study between parent and infant/child. The way I interpret this is: it’s a theory based on connection.  And how we connect with infants and children is through the senses.  We feel life, we feel through life.  We are all experiential beings, and kids more so simply because their brains aren’t developed to organize or make reason from their experiences like you can.  For this video, I explain the theory of attachment through the senses of eye contact and touch.

Eye contact is beneficial in creating and maintaining a bond with your child. When you look into your infant’s/child’s eyes and they look at you, a wonderful thing happens. You release a chemical called oxytocin which is the feel good, ‘Im in love’ chemical.  That’s why new moms will often say, “I’m so in love with my baby!” And its true. You are.  This feeling is also great because if you’re feeling so good, so in love then you’re more likely to continue caring, bonding and connecting with your baby/child. This is necessary for your baby’s survival.

The area of the eyes is important because this is also how your baby can develop mirror neurons by teaching through your facial expressions and emotions.  Facial expressions allow your face to come alive and show emotion and we connect through mirror neurons.  When your face expresses sadness, anger, frustration, joy, love, guilt etc, you’re teaching your baby to attune to you which in turn your baby/child will attune to others. This helps in emotional development, emotional recognition (emotional intelligence) and empathy. When this area around the eyes and forehead are in a state of freeze (expressionless) through brow lifts and botox, this can disrupt the emotional development of your baby because you aren’t mirroring those emotions via your face making it more difficult for your baby/child to fully develop the part of the brain that identifies and expresses emotions.  As adults, we can see and know (cognitively) that we are connecting with another regardless if they have had a brow lift or botox.  A baby’s/child’s brain isn’t nearly developed as adults.  They can’t make sense of it and the child may feel a ‘lack’ of connection to their parent because they have difficulty ‘reading’ the parents face.  I have wondered about the long-term impact on children as they grow up – will this stunt their ability to attune to another, to have empathy for another and to identify and express their own emotions.  Also, what is the impact on their relationships as adults?

The second sense is touch.  Healthy touch is imperative for the development of children on all spheres: mentally, emotionally, physically.   There is a school of thought of letting your baby cry themselves to sleep-on a regular basis.  In the theory of attachment, that would be a basic no-no if done on a consistent basis. The reason?  When your baby/child is crying they’re usually in a state of distress and when they’re in a state of distress, their little bodies are flooded with cortisol, the stress hormone.  If the parent doesn’t come to the baby’s rescue or protection to provide nurturing or consoling, then the baby can get the message that:

  1. She/he cannot fully rely on you when upset and distressed (stressed)
  2. The baby/child will have to learn to take care of their own distress and emotions the best way they can. And the only way a baby can take care of her/his own feelings is to fall asleep.

Another aspect is, if your baby/child becomes flooded with stress (cortisol) on a consistent basis with little/no nurturing/consoling, then it can set up your child to turn to other ways of soothing their distress (emotions, stress) as they get older which may impact their emotional, physical and mental well-being.

As always, I hope you learned something new or different.

Remember, if you don’t have kids,  you were one.


What is Stress? Big T and little t stress



I’ve written about this previously on this blog some time ago.  This is the second video in a series about stress for your health and wellness.  Each video will build upon the next, and I keep this stuff light, you can tell by my graphics.

If you have any questions or something to be researched email me at


Inside the Need to Please


Do you automatically answer “Yes!” when you’re asked to help in some way? Do you feel guilty when you say ‘No’ to someone else’s request? Do you often say yes, when you really want to say No? If you think about saying No, are you worried about what others will think of you? If you answered yes to these questions, then You, my friend, are a people pleaser.

People pleaser’s are lovely people. Everyone ‘loves’ you because you’ll do anything others ask you to.  They will bend over backwards trying to please others, to not offend others and to seek approval.

If you’re one to say Yes when you really want to say No, then most likely you’ll begin to feel resentful and taken advantage of. This often leads to being self-righteous by feeling unappreciated for ‘all the sacrifices’ you’ve made (place the back of your hand on your forehead and tilt your head back for further dramatic effect). When I hear that what I really want to do is throw my head back and let out an ‘ugh!’  I’m not pointing fingers. After all, I’ve chosen two professions in which I take care of others. I know this well.

Here’s the deal. People pleaser’s don’t realize that they’re playing the victim. However, they play the victim by blaming other’s for not acknowledging them for ‘all the things they do’ or their sacrifices.
And…here’s the kicker.  People pleaser’s actually do it to be liked, loved and accepted with the ‘don’t rock the boat’ mentality. Below this need to please, is a deep need to be loved and accepted by keeping everyone else happy.


                  Please! Don’t Leave Me!

Most likely if you’re a people pleaser you’re probably scoffing at this idea. Saying, “I do these things out of the goodness of my heart.”  What people pleaser’s don’t realize is that people pleasing is really a form of manipulation. I know, I’m cruel but I’ll say it again. People pleasing is a form of manipulation and control.

Let me explain. You say yes because:

  1. You want to be seen as a ‘nice’ person or to be seen a certain way by others. This is manipulation. You are behaving in a way that is inauthentic to who you are and what you want thereby manipulating how others see you. It’s like you being your own Public Relations team.
  2. You want everyone to get along, no upsetting the apple cart, which translates into no confrontation of problems/issues thereby controlling the environment by controlling other people’s behavior to control the outcome.  You’re subconscious is basically screaming, “Love me, Don’t leave me!”

When you do things for others, out of the goodness of your heart, are you expecting ANYTHING in return, such as acknowledgment, help, a hug, a thank you, or approval? When you say Yes, when you really want to say No, you perform for the love, acceptance and perception of another.

Here’s the issue with the aforementioned, if you consistently people please to be ‘nice’ so you’ll be liked, you’re not being You, which leads to being resentful. But, as much as you might be resentful, angry, self-righteous and blaming other’s, you can only blame yourself.  That’s the reality.  Because you don’t have to say yes.  There’s power in that.


What do you do to nurture yourself?

What do you do to nurture others?