Attachment and Faith

What is attachment?

Attachment describes the unique relationship between humans, starting early in life. Infants and caregivers bond in a way that helps the infant survive. This bond lays a foundation for future relationships. The psychological theory of attachment first developed in the 1950s, and has been growing ever since. Conectere is a new study in attachment that connects it with the sharing of faith and values from one generation to the next.

When a child and caregiver bond, they become emotionally attuned to each other. They respond to one another’s signals of joy, desire and distress. Caregivers who foster attachment security with their children are consistently available, respond to their children’s signals of joy with resonance, respond to their signals of distress by soothing them, and provide an appropriate balance of freedom and protection. When caregivers do not interact in these ways, attachment insecurity develops. Attachment is person-specific. The same child can have a secure attachment pattern with one person and an insecure attachment with another.

Attachment impacts children’s emerging sense of self. A child’s self-esteem and ability to manage their emotions depends greatly on their bonds with caregivers. Attachment also shapes the way they expect other people to treat them. Children adjust their social expectations, assuming that other adults - and even God - will respond to them in the ways their caregivers have. It’s never impossible to change our sense of self and expectations of others, but our childhood bonds have a big influence on our lives. A great way to grow in security is to experience secure attachment with new people in our lives. 

What does attachment have to do with faith?

Attachment also impacts how children receive the faith and values of their caregivers. This is the focus of Conectere. While the popular belief is that children mimic their parents’ faith, it’s not that simple. Attachment plays a crucial role. Attachment researcher Pehr Granqvist has shown that for children with insecure parental attachment, their parents’ religiousness seems to have no effect on their own sense of faith. This means that adults can teach faith and values all they want, but if relationships are not secure, the teaching will not have a deep and lasting effect on their children. Children who do experience attachment security with their parents and caregivers, though, tend to embrace their faith and values. 

Conectere works to strengthen relationships between children and their parents and caregivers, in order to support the transmission of faith and values from one generation to the next. Secure attachment is good for everyone, and it’s particularly important in faith communities that seek to embody God’s love and share their faith and values with their children. Conectere seeks the golden combination of secure attachment practices and effective practices for building faith with the next generation.

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