Parentalité : un lien d’attachement parent-enfant à tisser - Élhée

Parenthood: a parent-child attachment bond to weave

Parenthood is a broad, fairly recent concept, relating to emotional, legal, sociological, psychological and socio-educational aspects, which could be summed up by the art of becoming and being a parent, in its entirety . Indeed, if the suffix - ity indicates the quality or function, the word parenthood comes from the Latin word parentem (father, mother), and the Latin verb parere (to generate). Parenthood is therefore dual, intimately linked to the father and the mother, designed to engender, create and enrich the parent-child bond.


Parenthood, a whole world to understand

Much more than a simple word, parenthood is a constantly evolving universe , within which parents and children evolve side by side. Strictly speaking, this concept describes the parent-child bond, regardless of the family structure, and the rights and obligations of each person.

Parenthood also encompasses a whole world of emotions , feelings and upheavals that make up the daily life of a family. As such, parenthood can be fulfilling, new or even plural , and thus allow everyone to find their place.

On the occasion of Father's Day, Élhée chose to highlight the parent-child bond of attachment, so unique, so essential, and to focus particularly on the relationship between fathers and their children.

How is the parent-child attachment bond built?

a mother with a baby in her arms and a bottle elhee

First of all, it’s impossible to talk about attachment theory without talking about John Bowlby. A British psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, John has dedicated his career to understanding the mother-child relationship. According to him, unique bonds are forged between the baby and his caregivers (from the English to care , to take care and givers , donors).

In 1969, he published the first volume of his Loss and Attachment trilogy . It is in this first book published by Presses Universitaires de France and entitled Attachment , that Bowlby lays the foundations of his theory: the infant's attachment to the person or people who take care of him would be instinctive. According to Bowlby, the need for attachment is innate and builds its bond mainly through everyday interactions.

In each situation of stress, fatigue, hunger, pain, unfamiliar place or noise... the attachment system awakens, the child cries or shows fear. The attachment figure (most often the mother, but not necessarily) then responds to secure him.

4 types of parent-child attachment bonds

If availability, reliability, consistency, affection and complicity are the pillars of secure attachment , Bowlby distinguishes a total of 4 types of parent-child bonds (from the most secure to the least secure).

  • Secure attachment : the child feels protected, understood, loved and accompanied.
  • Insecure-ambivalent or fearful attachment : because his parents lack stability or consistency, the child detaches and internalizes.
  • Insecure-avoidant or anxious attachment , born from an unbalanced relationship in which the child does not receive enough signs of attachment, or on the contrary, too many.
  • Disoriented or disorganized attachment : arises from unpredictable or inconsistent behavior of parents or caregivers . It creates distrust and fear in the child.

As adults, children who have had positive attachment experiences are more confident and more easily able to form stable, quality relationships.

On the parents' side, weaving the bond of attachment ever more carefully also feels good! It strengthens the confidence and kindness that you can show towards yourself .

Parent-child attachment: are father and mother so different?

Still according to Bowlby, there is a hierarchy of emotional bonds established by the child with his caregivers . However, although the main attachment figure often remains the mother, there is nothing to indicate that the father cannot take this place . However, the studies carried out to analyze and understand the father-child bond are much fewer in number.

Miljkovitch & Pierrehumbert in their study “ Is the father the equal of the mother? » suggest that the father exhibits different qualities as an attachment figure . Among other things, it plays an essential role in the child's empowerment and openness to the outside world .

The father-child relationship, oriented towards the world and exploration

a father holding his baby and a bottle elhee in his arms

According to Carole Gagnon, a doctoral student at the school of psychoeducation at the University of Montreal, the parent-child attachment relationship has two main aspects: proximity and exploration. While the mother represents closeness, the father represents exploration and autonomy through taking initiative, play and discovery .

Danielle Paquette in her publication “ The father-child relationship and openness to the world ” speaks of a father-child activation relationship, in addition to the soothing mother-child attachment relationship . The father, through his support for the mother and through his accompaniment in the exploration processes carried out by the children, is then the one who brings confidence in himself and in his abilities , as well as serenity in the face of the world.

Thus, while the mother supports her child in times of difficulty, the father considers him more easily able to cope . It is also this complementarity which makes all the beauty of the parent-child, mother-child and father-child attachment bond, each in their uniqueness.

On the occasion of Father's Day, Élhée would like to recall the importance of also honoring the man, the companion, the partner, the dad. More than ever, through the celebration of parenthood, it is time to give it, return it or create it, a special place at the heart of the relationship between mother and parent-child.

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