We've probably all heard about "attachment" by now, especially in terms of the connection between parents and young children. This concept shows up when babies are under stress and they reach out to get comfort and assurance by connecting with someone they love and trust (usually it's the mama but it can also be the dad or another caregiver).
[To study attachment relationships, there's a classic experiment called the "strange situation" where a young child is placed in a room with a parent (typically mother) and some fun toys. Then a series of things happen, spaced a minute or two apart: a stranger comes in and sits down, the mother gets up and leaves, the mother comes back in. While children differ widely on the specifics of their responses, researchers have found that securely attached children move closer to, touch, or glance at their mothers--their "secure base"--when the stranger comes in. They're checking in with the person they trust to make sure their safety is assured. If they're upset or stressed they go to their "secure base" for comfort and security.]
Remember Dumbo and his mother? That's some good secure base seeking right there:
While the attachment research is mostly centered around younger kids, I've noticed (very unscientifically, mind you) that it exists in older kids and teens when they're under stress as well. I'm convinced that we're still their secure bases; it just shows up differently! The stresses are less frequently about physical safety but more often about emotional and social and academic security.
For instance: secure base texting. Sometimes--not always--I'll get a text in the middle of the day from one of my kids: a test has gone badly, someone said something mean, an injustice needs to be righted. They just want to reach out, connect, and be reassured. They want their mom. A couple of exchanged texts and reassurances later and they're on their way again. Straight-up secure base action.
(Once I was at a conference and got a funny text from my daughter that said just this, in all sincerity: Mom! If y=2, what's x? One of my all-time favorites.)
Another example: secure base venting. Sometimes big kids save all the grit and stress of their day just for us. Have you noticed this?! They wear a mask of cheerfulness (hey, sometimes!) and competence and even cool all day long and then, to our utter delight, when they get home to our safe nests they vent and unload the whole mess of stress. In the process, quite often they feel better and we feel worse. They need someplace safe, a secure base to do this. You're it! Consider it a high compliment. (And if you find yourself getting sucked into the stress of it all, go ahead and call your secure base and then carry on.)
Have you noticed this phenomenon or is it just me? Where else have you seen it happen? I'd love more examples to support my theory so please chime in...