Janae Peer 1
Attachment theory, developed by John Bowlby and expanded upon by Mary Ainsworth, highlights the critical role that early attachments play in shaping one’s social and emotional development throughout life. The ability of an individual to form strong relationships as an adult is significantly shaped by their experiences with their parents during their early years. Therefore, it is of utmost significance that a child’s robust social and emotional growth hinges on their capacity to establish connections with multiple primary carers. How the child’s primary carer responds to the child’s needs and behaviors significantly impacts the child’s attachment style, which in turn influences the child’s adult relationships.
Secure attachments established in early childhood serve as a blueprint for future relationships. Children must form these connections to trust, control their emotions, and feel safe in social settings (White et al., 2023). People with secure attachments as children are likelier to find relationships that bring them joy and fulfillment as adults. Children with strong bonds with their primary carers learn to trust others and believe in themselves. As a result, they are more capable of managing their emotions and dealing with difficult situations. As a result, these individuals are more likely to form long-term relationships as adults. People with secure attachments have high self-esteem and a sense of worth. People strengthen their sense of self by internalizing positive reinforcement and messages from their carers. An individual’s ability to form and maintain positive relationships with others depends on their self-esteem level, which increases. Developing secure attachments, children learn essential life skills such as communicating with others and solving problems. Children learn how to communicate effectively with others when they feel safe enough to say what they want to say in safe environments.
Children can form secure attachments through various strategies parents and other carers use. It is critical to monitor a child’s needs, including their physical and emotional health, and respond to them as soon as possible. Giving babies comfort and reassurance when crying makes them feel very secure. Routines and providing a caring environment always available to children can aid in forming attachments. In contrast, neglect or inconsistent care can result in loosely attached relationships. A child may struggle to form long-term emotional connections following a traumatic event, such as being abused or being separated from their primary carers for an extended period (Guerrero, 2021).
Attachment and spiritual growth have a complex and multifaceted relationship unique to each person. From a Biblical perspective, Isaiah 49:15–16 emphasizes that God’s love and connection to individuals are unwavering and everlasting, “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.”. The excerpt from Isaiah emphasizes the perpetual and everlasting attention of a celestial entity, specifically God. The message is that God’s affection and devotion towards individuals are steadfast and everlasting, in contrast to any temporal connection, such as the bond between a mother and her child. When analyzed from the attachment theory perspective, this passage supports the notion that individuals’ spiritual growth and overall sense of happiness can be influenced by the intensity of their connections with God. It emphasizes the significance of establishing a robust bond with a compassionate and affectionate divine entity to acquire fortitude and endurance throughout one’s lifetime.
Guerrero, L. K. (2021). Attachment theory: A communication perspective. In
Engaging theories in interpersonal communication (pp. 299-313). Routledge.
Testament, O. (2015). Holy bible.
White, S., Gibson, M., Wastell, D., & Walsh, P. (2023). Reassessing attachment theory in child welfare. In
Social Work (pp. 109-115). Routledge.
The type of attachment that a child has with their caregiver not only influences the child’s development but also future relationships. When a child has a secure attachment with their caregiver the child tends to be more confident, positive, and overall happier (Kochanska, 2001). When a child has an insecure attachment with their caregiver then the child tends to be more fearful, negative, and angry. This will then carry on into their adolescent and adult lives and affect their relationships with others. For instance, children with a secure attachment tend to have an easier time building relationships with others because they are more positive and more confident in connecting with others. Children with an insecure attachment will have a more difficult time building relationships as they will internalize emotions more and may experience anxiety and depression.
To form a healthy attachment parents and caregivers can be available physically and emotionally for the child. This includes being sensitive to the child’s needs and their signals of distress. In further detail, there is a larger impact on the quality of the caregiver’s interactions with the child than just the amount of attentiveness that the caregiver gives the child. For instance, if a child is crying and the caregiver picks up the child and is actively trying to soothe the child and adhere to the child’s emotional needs as well as physical, it will have a greater impact than a caregiver that picks up the child just to adhere to the physical needs of the child. In a secure attachment the child needs a warm, intimate, and consistent relationship with the caregiver (Bretherton, 1992). In the secure attachment the child knows that their needs will be met by the caregiver.
Various factors that can lead to insecure relationships are when the caregiver or parent is inattentive to the child’s needs and when the caregiver or parent is unavailable physically or emotionally for the child. These types of practices can lead to the child being unsure of when or if their needs will be met and who is going to care for them and ensure that their needs are met. This can lead to the child being fearful, angry, and unsure of how to communicate their needs and emotions.
I do believe that a relationship exists between attachment and spiritual development. Just as a child form’s a type of attachment with their caregiver, people form an attachment with God. If people are secure in their relationship with God, then they feel confident and positive in this connection. They are also able to see how God works in their lives. If a person has an insecure relationship, then they may be more anxious and concerned with their relationship with God. They may wonder if God truly loves them and are unable to see what God does for them. We see this in Deuteronomy 31:6 where God reassures that He is there, and that “He will never leave nor forsake you” (New International Version, 2011).
Bretherton, I. (1992). The origins of attachment theory: John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth. Developmental Psychology
Kochanska, G. (2001). Emotional development in children with different attachment histories: The first three years. Child Development
New International Version. (2011). Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV – – Bible gateway