S05|23 - Parenting Types and Attachment Styles with KJ, Gentle Healing MomDec 19, 2022
KJ, also known as Gentle Healing mom, has built a community of over 100k followers on Instagram sharing about her personal gentle parenting journey as well as healing from childhood wounds. She has a master's degree in mental health counseling and is working towards becoming a certified parenting coach.
KJ and her husband Adam have been married for 7 years. They have a 5-year-old son named Sawyer who is the reason KJ began her gentle and conscious parenting journey more than 2 years ago."
Connect with KJ
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/gentlehealingmom/
- TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@gentlehealingmom
On today’s episode of the podcast:
- We define modern parenting terminology… conscious parenting, gentle parenting, positive parenting etc.
- What the 4 parenting styles are and what parenting has been common in generations past
- Attachment styles and what they look like in adulthood (secure and insecure attachment and more)
- What our own inner healing looks like, and how perfection is never the goal
Coaching has changed my own life, and the lives of my clients. More connection, more healing, more harmony, and peace in our most important relationships. It increases confidence in any parenting challenges and helps you be the guide to teach your children the family values that are important to you- in clear ways. If you feel called to integrate this work in a deeper way and become a parenting expert, that’s what I’m here for.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Hi, I'm Crystal The Parenting Coach. Parenting is the thing that some of us just expected to know how to do. It's not like other areas of your life where you go to school to be taught, get on the job training, or have mentors to help you learn. Now, you can get that help here.
I believe that your relationship with your children is one of the most important aspects of your life, and the best way that you can make a positive impact on the world and on the future. I've made parental relationships my life study, and use life coaching tools with connection-based parenting to build amazing relationships between parents and their children.
If you want an even better relationship with your child, this podcast will help you. Take my Parenting Quiz, the link is in the show notes. Once we know what your parenting style is, I'll give you some tips tailored to you and a roadmap to help you get the most out of my podcast. I invite you to help me spread the word by sharing your favorite episode on social media or with a friend.
Parenting Types and Attachment Styles with KJ, the Gentle Healing Mom.
KJ's background, what she does, and how she got started
Crystal The Parenting Coach: She has built a community of over 100k followers on Instagram sharing about her personal Gentle Parenting journey as well as healing from childhood wounds. She has a Master's degree in Mental Health Counseling and is working towards becoming a certified Parenting Coach.
KJ and her husband, Adam, have been married for 7 years. They have a 5-year-old son named Sawyer who is the reason KJ began her Gentle and Conscious Parenting journey more than 2 years ago. Hello, KJ. Welcome to the podcast.
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: Hi, Crystal. Thanks for having me.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: I'm so glad to have you. I have been following you for, I don't know how many years, a long time. A long time. And I love finding other people that are doing the same work and love everything that you say; I love your Reels, they're so helpful.
Like, whenever I watch, when I'm like, "Yes, this is the perfect way to say it," they're so good. So, thanks for coming on. I think this will be a great conversation.
You had a Reels a few weeks ago, I don't know how long ago it was, where you were talking about the different types of parenting styles; and it's something that I love talking about, and I don't think I've ever talked about that on the podcast before. Like, what parenting style do you have and what does that look like?
And so, I would love to kind of just talk about that Reels, if you remember it; the three different parenting styles you talked about. And then, kind of dive a little bit into attachment, because recently you were talking about attachment styles. So, let's dig into that too.
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: Yes.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: I also for totally forgot to allow you to introduce yourself. So, first of all, tell us about you and what you do and kind of how you got here.
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: Sure. So, my name is KJ, and I am known as Gentle Healing Mom on Instagram and TikTok. I don't really have a website or anything; I do all of my content on, mostly, Instagram.
And I create Reels mostly around Gentle Parenting, Conscious Parenting, healing from childhood trauma – and basically, just trying to reparent yourself…trying to be the best version of the mom or dad that you want to be for your child, regardless of how you were raised.
And for me, my journey started about two and a half, three years ago; and I just started sharing my journey on social media, and people really started to connect with it.
And when I first started, honestly, I didn't even know it was called Gentle Parenting; and over time, it's like, 'Oh, there's actually a name for this, this is awesome…like, I can actually start to explain further what I'm doing to my audience.'
And ever since then, I feel like it's grown – just the Positive Parenting world has really, really grown. And I think that's so wonderful. And there's so many people who have started the same journey and sharing their experiences, and just spreading the message; and I just think that's amazing, that's wonderful. And I'm so fortunate to be part of that community of parents.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: How did you stumble across this kind of parenting? Like, what was that like for you?
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: So, I just remember when my son was like two-and-a-half, three years old, I would get triggered so much by his behavior.
I didn't even know what triggers were; I didn't know that that's what was happening to me, but the way I was responding to his meltdowns and tantrums was a typical style of an authoritarian parent, which I'm sure we'll get to here in this episode – but I would just get so mad…I would use timeout, I would yell, I would punish.
And I just had these unrealistic expectations for a two-and-a-half-year-old on how he should be behaving because I didn't understand then how a brain develops and that children that young literally don't have the brain development to do better, to do differently.
And so, I just remember just feeling awful every time afterwards. Like, I would do all of these things I thought I was supposed to do as a parent – what mainstream parenting tells you to do for how to discipline – and I just felt terrible afterwards.
I didn't feel good about it, my son didn't feel good…felt like it was really affecting our relationship. And I just remember thinking, "There has to be another way to parent, I can't just parent the way I think I should be parenting…like, there has to be techniques and skills."
So, I just started researching; and I started reading books – and slowly, started trying different techniques…I started learning a lot more about how the brain develops, and I started working on myself.
And over time, it's been, you know, almost three years now, I am still on a healing journey – but I have been able to improve and grow so much as a parent and being able to remain calm and be more supportive and understanding of my son during his emotional meltdowns.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Aren't we all always on a healing journey? I'm like, "I don't know if I'll ever get to the end and be like, no, I'm fully healed."
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: Right. Yeah. I think you're-- I think you're right. Like, I don't-- I don't think anyone's ever going to reach the point like, "Oh, I'm healed, I'm all done…I'm the perfect person now." You know? It is. It's a lifelong journey because we always change and evolve, and over time--
Crystal The Parenting Coach: And we're always human.
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: Exactly. We're going to continue to make mistakes, so it is; it's a lifelong journey. We can only continue to improve and look back on where we've come from.
KJ's healing journey
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Yeah, totally. Before we dig into kind of parenting styles and stuff, I would love just to hear from you--
What came up for me when you were speaking was like, what was your healing like? Like how did you-- You like noticed you're triggered--
I'll also quickly define trigger, for those of you that don't really know what that is. It's like an emotional charge – like a strong emotional charge, usually like negatively – maybe, always negatively where we feel just a little bit of that energy, a little bit of that swelling come up…and sometimes a lot, a lot of it.
So, for you, once you noticed that and you started shifting things, what did healing look like on your personal journey?
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: So, for me, healing, I started seeing a therapist; and I just knew that there were things where I started learning that, "Hey, how I was raised is affecting how I parent right now."
I actually have a lot of childhood trauma that I didn't realize that I had. And I think right now, there's such a stigma with the word trauma.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Yes.
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: And I think so many people are realizing they have it; and then there's, you know, all the trolls out there who are trying to say that, "Oh, everybody has trauma now." Well, you think about it, it's like, you know what? A lot of people do have trauma just from the way that we were raised.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Everybody does. Everybody does. You can't go through life without having some sort of trauma.
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: Exactly. Yeah.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: And I think we misunderstand-- Again, I'll just define that one quick too. I love Dr. Gabor Maté said this, but he said that, "Trauma isn't like going through a really tough experience…it's going through that really hard experience, but like not feeling witnessed or connected or held through it."
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: Yes.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: So, it's not like it has to be something huge, like, you know, somebody tried to murder you or something – but it can just be those moments that felt big for you, and then not having necessarily that--
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: Exactly. Exactly. I 100% agree with that. Like, it's experiencing a strong emotion and not being able to process it, right?
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Mm-Hmm.
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: So, like you said, it doesn't have to be something as huge as like a car accident or losing a loved one or something where that's where people normally hear the word 'trauma' being used.
It really is. It could be something minor that to somebody else who's unrelated may think that's not a big deal. But to you as a person who experienced it and didn't have a way to release that emotion, that energy – and so, you store it – and now that's something that you carry with you until something similar happens, and it continues to build.
Like, that's trauma that you have to be able to work through that. And so, I had a lot of that growing up, and I know that it wasn't intentional. You know, my parents raised us to the best of their abilities with what they knew – but with that, a lot of generational trauma on my mom's side, that was passed on to us.
And I started to realize that as I learned more and more about like how to parent differently – and how to become a more conscious parent, which I, you know, am also a conscious parent. And with that learning, "Okay, so this is triggering for me. Why? Why is this triggering for me?"
"Oh, because when I was a child, this is what happened."
And so, I knew I needed somebody else to kind of help me work through a lot of the deeply rooted traumas from my childhood; and that's been helping, and that's still a journey that I'm on. It's definitely not something that can be healed overnight, and I think I've progressed a lot in just the last couple of years working through that childhood trauma.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Yeah, and we all have that. I think anybody who was parented by-- Actually, I've talked to a couple people who didn't feel like they had so much – but also when I asked them what their parents did, they were psychologists.
So, I feel like maybe they were a little bit more emotionally ahead of the game there – but for the most part, most people that I talked to didn't have an environment where they really talked about emotions – where their emotions were validated, where they felt seen and heard all the time.
And even just in parenting books – and just how culture and media and everything was, it was all very strict and all very disciplinarian…and not really conscientious of the child, and the child being a human and the development being normal to take a while, right? It's normal for us not to just be born knowing how to regulate ourselves, nobody is.
I love this story that you pointed out and also pointing out that we still do have triggers – even people who have intentionally, like you and I, chosen to take this on and do this work and make this kind of our life's purpose and journey, still feel triggered by things…still have things that we're working on.
And I just think of it now as like, triggers are teachers; they're teaching me-- They're lighting an area of work that maybe I haven't quite done yet, or somewhere that I can delve into. And it doesn't have to feel so heavy every time now.
The definitions of modern parenting terminology… Conscious Parenting, Gentle Parenting, Positive Parenting etc.
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: Yeah, exactly. And the foundation of Conscious Parenting really is…the child is the biggest teacher that you'll have.
The moment you become a parent, your child is going to teach you so many things about yourself; and that's where your growth is really going to happen. And if you allow it, if you allow your child to teach you--
When you do become triggered by their behaviors instead of responding in the way you would normally respond when you're in that survival fight or flight mode, taking a step back and asking yourself, "Why is that triggering me so much? Why do I want to yell right now? Why do I have this urge to spank right now?"
Okay. Take a moment to breathe and think, "When I was a child, if I behaved that way, what would've happened to me? How would my parent have responded to me?"
"Oh, I would've gotten spanked; and so, as a child, I learned that behavior is not safe. And so, now, I am seeing my own child doing the same thing that I would get in trouble for…I've learned that that's not safe – I need to stop that behavior, you know, right away."
"Okay, that answers that. So, now, I know what I have to work on in myself."
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Totally, totally. And that happens to us often, we're like, 'Oh wait, there's another one.'
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: Exactly.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: You mentioned Gentle Parenting. You mentioned Conscious Parenting. This is just a personal interesting question because I've been asked this question several times; do you feel like there's a difference between the lingo? Like, you know, some people say; gentle, conscious, attachment-based, connection-based, respectful, positive. What do you see there?
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: Yes. So, I wish there was like something that put it all together because I feel like it's still pretty recent; like within the past couple of years, all of these different parenting terms and lingo is being thrown out there.
And people are, you know, "What is Conscious Parenting? What is Gentle Parenting? Positive Parenting, Respectful parenting, Peaceful Parenting; what is it? Which one do I want to do?"
Like, you know, it's confusing; and I have not found anything that's like, "Oh, this is the structure." Right?
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Yeah.
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: Everything's under a form of like Authoritative Parenting, which we can go into. The way I see-- This is how I see and differentiate it, is that like Gentle Parenting, Peaceful Parenting, Positive, Respectful are all kind of value-rooted. Right?
Like kind of, what do you value more? Is it the respect piece? Is that what is most important to you? Then maybe you call yourself a respectful parent because that is like your core value, you want respect.
Peaceful, you want-- Is peacefulness like your priority or your main value? Maybe you call yourself a peaceful parent.
Positive Parenting to me is kind of an umbrella of like all of these modern positive-style parenting.
For me, Gentle Parenting really resonates with me because having that gentle nurturing environment for my child is what resonates for me because I feel like that's something that my inner child wants so badly is to just have that like gentle nurturing environment.
So, I feel like a lot of those can be used interchangeably just explaining the style of like, how you want a parent…what kind of experience do you want for your child, that's how I view those parenting styles.
Conscious Parenting is like the one that's a little bit more different because Conscious Parenting is really more of like, what fuels why you want to parent this way?
To me; Gentle, Peaceful, Positive; that's all the child's experience. How are they experiencing their childhood and growing up? what is their environment like?
Conscious Parenting is really focused on the parent, how can I be better? What am I doing that I could do better for my child? Asking the questions, getting to the root. It's really more internal, like a more internal experience for the parent--
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Right.
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: -and less so on the child. The child is-- We're not trying to change the child; we're trying to learn from our child. And so, that's how I differentiate it; there's nothing official about that. So, don't quote me on, you know, when they do come out with something a couple years down the road
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Yeah. And you're like, "That was wrong."
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: Yeah.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: No, I love that differentiation because when I was researching it, because people would ask me this, I was like, "I don't really see a difference…like, they all seem kind of the same."
Like for me, it seems like relationship matters the most – matters more than trying to, like, change my child's behavior; and like connection matters and attachment matters…and being conscientious of me and my, you know, role to play there.
But then, recently, I was looking more into Positive Parenting and realized that in Positive Parenting, there is sometimes rewards and there is definitely praise – definitely a focus on praise, which I didn't love. So, now, I kind of put that term to the side and was like, "Okay, I'll use these other ones."
What the 4 parenting styles are and what parenting has been common in generations past
Crystal The Parenting Coach: But I would love to talk about parenting styles because I think these parenting terminologies, like you said, are going to fit under these overarching parenting styles. So, will you tell us-- Just share a little bit about that Reels that you shared, and then we'll dig into that.
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: Mm-Hmm. So yeah, there's all these different parenting terminologies, but then there's really ultimately four parenting types.
And so, let let's start with Authoritative Parenting because that's kind of where a lot of these more modern style parenting types fall under. Authoritative parenting is--
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Which is different than authoritarian, because we're going to talk that about a minute.
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: Maybe we can start-- Maybe we should talk about authoritarian first; it might be a little bit easier.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Yeah, because I think people get these ones-- They're very similar-sounding. Yeah.
1. Authoritarian style of parenting
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: You're right. So, we'll start with authoritarian style of parenting.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Okay.
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: So, this is more of your traditional-based parenting, which many of us were raised this way in our homes back in the 80s, 90s, and earlier. Right?
Like, parents were at the top of the hierarchy; they were in charge, they knew better. They used a lot of terms like, "Because I said so" or "Because I'm the parent", "Because I know better", "Doesn't matter what you say".
It was very much the child was to be seen, not heard…the parent made the choice, it didn't matter what the child thought.
As far as discipline, you know, there was corporal punishments – like spanking was used to discipline a child – using threats, manipulation, punishments…all of these things to try and get a child to obey or comply with whatever the parent wanted.
The parent wanted control; that was the ultimate goal of that type.
And if you had a child that was able to sit quietly and not cause a ruckus, then they were seen as a good child. So, there was good and bad children; and that's really how authoritarian parents see things is that, "If I can control my child, I'm a good parent." So, that-- That is the traditional authoritarian style.
2. Authoritative Parenting
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: Moving on to Authoritative Parenting because that's where it gets kind of confusing. Authoritative parenting is really a more collaborative approach with your child; and you don't see yourself as being above your child.
You are still the parent, you're responsible to keep them safe, so you do have to make final decision at the end of the day. But up until you make that final decision, you want to know what your child thinks, what their opinions are.
You want to hear about their thoughts and feelings. You want to validate how they feel and help teach them the skills – give them the skills that they need to do better, managing their emotions or social skills. So, you're there to work with them more as a teacher and--
Crystal The Parenting Coach: It's developmental, right?
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: Exactly.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Like that it's going happen instead of just being like, "At this age, everyone should be able to do this." Versus like, "Everyone's on their own path."
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: Right. Exactly. Yes. And each child is seen as a unique individual and seen for the needs that that specific child needs – not so much "They're a child, every child should behave this way and be able to do this at this time."
And then underneath that Authoritative Parenting umbrella, you have the; Gentle Parenting, Positive, all that.
And then, there's so many different nuances. And to me, I just kind of-- I'm sure there's different techniques for each style of parenting; I have never taken the time to like learn all those different techniques because for me, yeah…for me it's – I call myself a positive parent, I call myself a gentle parent, conscious parent.
At the end of the day, my goal is to make sure that my child feels heard, seen, respected, loved no matter what kind of day we had.
If we had a day where I lost control and I yelled at him, I will make amends and we'll try to repair that relationship.
And, at the end of the day, as long as he felt like he was heard and that he was cared for, then that was a good day for me.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Okay. We have to pause there because I think that so many people are like…"If I have to be a conscious and gentle parent, then that means I never yell, I never do anything wrong, I'm always connected and always calm – and newsflash, we're always human so this will not happen."
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: Mm-Hmm.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: I love that it means, at the end of the day, like, how did this go? Even if I lost my temper all day long?
Or even if you're not a person that really yells, if you're more of the disconnect/withdrawal type…even if I did that…at the end of the day, I came back and I apologized and reconnected, which means like, I said what my part in that was. Right? Like, "I was upset, I was feeling this way…it had everything to do with me, it had nothing to do with you, now let's reconnect."
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: Yes.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: And listen.
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: Yes, exactly. There is no perfect parent ever.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Ever.
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: I mean, you have parenting experts who, you know, have written books and textbooks, and have all these resources for you – even they make mistakes because, like you said, we're human and we will make mistakes.
But it really is like, 'Okay, how do you respond after that? Is your goal to have the last say and win that argument? Or is the relationship a priority?'
So, that to me, was a successful parenting day is when my child goes to bed that night, he feels like he's still seen and loved and cared for by me – no matter what. So yes, I still make mistakes too; and I actively work to do better the next time.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Oh, that's a beautiful description. Yeah, I often don't say Authoritative Parenting only because people just go back to Authoritarian.
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: I know.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: I'm like, why are those two words so similar?
3. Permissive Parenting
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Okay, so let's move on to the next, because you said there's four, right?
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: Yes. Okay, so let's move on to Permissive Parenting. Now, this is where people often get it confused with Gentle Parenting.
They hear the word 'gentle' and they think, oh, gentle means that you're just always this kind person to your child and you let them do whatever they want because you don't want to ever be not gentle with them – but it's completely different from Permissive Parenting.
So, Permissive Parenting are parents who don't set boundaries, don't have expectations. They really do want to be more of a friend to the child. They're afraid of conflict. They don't want to tell the child "No", because they don't want them to ever feel upset; that causes them anxiety.
So, they would rather be, you know, the fun parent or like I said, 'the friend of the child'. And that can be damaging also because children do need boundaries; and they do need to know right from wrong, and be able to follow rules.
And so, Permissive Parenting is not the same as Positive Parenting or all those other parenting types that we talked about under the authoritative umbrella.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: I think that's the biggest myth. I think when people see me out in public doing my thing, they're just like, "Oh, you're not strict enough" or "You're not--"
Like there's no guidance, that there's no teaching there – but there totally is. It just looks very different than what it looked like 20 or 30 years ago; and there's not a ton of us--
It might feel like there's a ton of us because we follow a lot of people like this on Instagram, but then I go out into like the wild and I'm like, "Wait a second, I'm the only one doing this."
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: Yeah.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Right? And so--
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: That's so true. Yeah.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: It isn't like, I'm like, "Wait, nobody knows this terminology, nobody's doing it this way."
And so, it can kind of, you know, it can kind of feel a little bit isolating at times – but I love being able to connect with people like this to be like, "Okay, no, wait, there's a new way of doing it."
But yes, the most common misconception I get is that it is permissive…that we just let our kids do whatever they want, there's no guidance and that they're just going to turn out like totally entitled with like no learning.
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: Right.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: We're going to turn-- We're going to talk about how they turn out because we're also going to talk about attachment styles.
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: Yes.
4. Neglectful Parenting
Crystal The Parenting Coach: So, we'll get there. What is the fourth? Because I forgot that you said that there was four, not three, when I first mentioned in the beginning because I remember seeing your reels and thinking, "Oh, I never thought about that."
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: So, the fourth parenting type is Neglectful Parenting. And this is a parenting style where really, the caregiver just doesn't really care. You know, like they don't meet the child's needs, physically or emotionally.
They basically, kind of, let the child fend for themselves. There is no connection, there's no bond that is made between caregiver and the child.
And so, I don't see these parents following me, you know, because they wouldn't care. Right?
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Yeah.
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: They wouldn't want to know about Gentle Conscious Parenting. But I mean, these are the kind of children that you may find in, you know, orphanages or, where they just don't have parents to be there and care for them because there are so many of them.
And so, from infancy, they've learned to stop crying because crying didn't communicate anything. It didn't get them their needs met. And so, that really has a damaging effect.
And I'm glad we're going to talk about attachment – the attachment theory and all the attachment styles because, you know, that is…the first year of life is such a important part in a child's development.
And if they're not able to form that secure attachment with a caregiver within that first year, it has such a huge effect and impact on how they develop for the rest of their lives.
Attachment styles and what they look like in adulthood (secure and insecure attachment and more)
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Yeah. So, we're going to move on to attachment styles, but I also want to mention too, if you're listening to this and you're like, "Ah, I didn't have a good attachment with my kid for that first year," I didn't either…I do now. Things can change.
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: Mm-Hmm.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: It doesn't mean that it's like too late and it's too far gone. Like, I've helped people have better relationships with their kids when their kids were like adults. So, like, this can happen. We can-- We can work on this, and it can grow.
So, it's not just like, just because you didn't do this-- But we would love to move on to this idea of attachment styles and kind of what can come from--
I kind of see attachment style styles as like the outcome. Like once I've been parented one of these ways or maybe a couple of these ways and then I am raised to an adult, this is kind of what we see. So, tell us a little bit more about attachment styles.
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: Yeah. So, depending on how your relationship was with your caregiver from the minute you were born to toddlerhood, can affect kind of just how you interact with others – how you process emotions and how you handle stressful events and when you feel overwhelmed, and then how you become a parent yourself.
And like you said, yes…the good news is that even if you didn't have a secure attachment with your caregiver growing up, you still have the ability to form a secure attachment with other people…with yourself, with your child. It's not too late. And it's just amazing that our brains have the ability to--
Crystal The Parenting Coach: It's amazing.
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: -relearn, right?
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Yeah.
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: Relearn those connections. I just want to add really quick too about my comment on the orphanages because I didn't want to put a blanket over that because that example that I had used was in the extreme scenario of when, you know, there are orphanages with babies that just don't have enough people to care for them. So, I don't want to be--
Crystal The Parenting Coach: That's true.
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: There are wonderful orphanages out there.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: I have a friend who runs an orphanage in another country that's beautiful and lovely and attachment-based.
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: Yes.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Yes. I think we get that too. So, tell me about these-- Actually, before this, it is really important what you just said about attachment styles that our brain--
Like if you've ever heard about neuroplasticity, it means that our brain is constantly growing and changing and learning. So, just because we weren't given this kind of parenting – which 99% of us were not, so I've only met like maybe two that we're like sort of…almost a little bit more like this – but doesn't mean that we can't give it.
What our own inner healing looks like
Crystal The Parenting Coach: And I just saw-- Dr. Deborah MacNamara is one of my favorite experts, I had her on the podcast last year. She's awesome. And she said – just the other day on Facebook – she was like, "These are some myths of this kind of parenting, and one of them is, I can't give what I wasn't given."
I can't change-- Like, if I was given this, wasn't given that attachment and I have stuck with this attachment style…then it can't change, I can't give my kids something different. And that is definitely a myth. And, for sure, for sure we can change. That's what healing is all about.
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: Well, and that's what we're all doing on our parenting journey.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: All of us.
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: We wouldn't call it a journey if it wasn't something that we knew was going to be challenging and full of challenges because we're literally trying to unlearn a lot of the things that are like what we have grown up knowing. And the behaviors we have are deeply rooted. And so, we're trying to unlearn-- We're trying to re-parent ourselves.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Exactly.
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: So yeah, it is a complete myth. We can-- We can change how we parent our child from how we were parented.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Yeah. Okay. So, attachment styles, the two kind of main overarching would be secure and insecure, right? Correct?
1. Secure Attachment
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: Yes. So, ultimate goal is secure attachment, that's what we want to form with our child. We want to be their safe base. We want them to see us as somebody that they can trust emotionally and physically, someone that they can come to anytime they need guidance or they just need to feel safe.
They know that we'll meet their needs no matter what. We're attuned to what their experiences are, we validate their feelings. That's the kind of attachment that we want our children to grow up in because that form of attachment is what's going to raise confident, resilient children who know that they're cared for and loved in this world.
2. Insecure attachment
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: And then, like you said, the other form is insecure attachment. And there are different types of insecure attachment, so you've got insecure ambivalent attachment.
And so, this occurs when a parent or when a child grows up with a parent who may sometimes meet their needs and then sometimes not meet their needs. And so, a child learns to not really be sure if they're necessarily-- if they're going to-- if they're able to trust that caregiver.
So, for example, as a baby, the caregiver may have sometimes gone to them right away and met their needs, fed them if they were hungry – or other times, maybe they let the baby cry for a long time.
And so, the baby kind of starts to learn like, 'Okay, I'm not really sure-- If I cry this time, I'm not sure if I'm going to get my need met right away or not.' So, child grows up and they don't see their caregiver as being necessarily emotionally reliable. Sometimes they are there for them emotionally, and other times they're more distant. So again, it's kind of that ambivalence, like not really sure.
And then, so then when the child grows up, they have feelings of anxiousness, right? They're not really sure how to respond in certain situations. They may have worst-case scenario thoughts right away…kind of thinking through like, you know, not seeing the positive in things – or just feeling insecure, not being very emotionally stable.
Those are some of the signs or some of the things that you might see in a parent with ambivalent attachment.
a) Insecure avoidant attachment
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: You've got the insecure avoidant attachment, and these are parents who really were more distant to a child and were emotionally unavailable to a child. May have had unrealistic expectations for them growing up, you know, saying things like, "Stop crying", "You're fine", "You don't need to be upset about that".
And, you know, may have ignored or dismissed a child when the child would try to connect with them. So, then growing up as an adult, these adults with the avoidant attachment have a hard time connecting with other people and a hard time providing or giving affection to their child because they really didn't receive it themselves when they were growing up. So, those are kind of some of the traits that you might see in an avoidant attachment.
b) Insecure disorganized attachment
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: And then you've got the insecure disorganized attachment; and this is where you might have a caregiver who maybe sometimes would be loving to a child, but then also could have moments where they would cause fear in the child.
And so, you would see this in like authoritarian style parenting, where you use punishment such as spanking when you're trying to discipline a child…so the child is being disciplined and being harmed by somebody who's supposed to be their primary caregiver, who's supposed to be taking care of them.
And there's that confusion, that disorganized thought process of, my caregiver is also the one causing me harm…the person that I'm supposed to go to for safety is the one that's causing me to be afraid.
You know, there's that confusion. And then, so then as you grow up, you have a hard time trusting other people. You may have tendency to be more aggressive or just have a quick temper.
And that really is because you didn't learn how to really manage and control your emotions in a healthy way; you were punished for them.
And again, these are more the extremes. And also, not saying that these parents are purposely or intentionally trying to harm the relationship with their child, but--
Crystal The Parenting Coach: They're parenting from their own wounds.
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: They're parenting from their, how they were parented…what they, what they know. So, until you break that cycle, it kind of continues with how you parent your child.
So, those are-- Those are the different attachment styles.
And then again, the ultimate goal with why we choose to parent differently now is because we want to make sure we have a secure attachment with our children.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Yes. That was such a good description. I loved how you went to, like, in adulthood, this is kind of what it might look like also, because we often--
Like, it almost seems like authoritarian parenting works; and it seems that way because you might initially get like that like child that listens to you – or does what you want or is respectful or whatever it is that you're looking for there.
But I love to look at this like forward focus, like, yeah, that might work in the short term or it might seem like it's working – but in the long term, look at these different attachment styles and what it might mean for our kids as adults. And also, what it might mean for our relationship with our kids when they're adults and we're adults. Right?
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: Right, right, right.
How perfection is never the goal
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: And it is, what do you view as successful parenting? You know? Authoritarian; okay, if you view successful parenting as a child that listens to you whenever you tell them to do something.
Okay. So, in your eyes that's-- We need to re-look at what it means to be a successful parent because children are meant to be fidgety. Children are meant to challenge you.
They're meant to move and yell and be loud and ask questions and be curious and want to know answers to things; like, that is what children are designed to do. And when we start seeing children as, 'Okay, that is developmentally appropriate for them,' we can shift how we view ourselves as parents, and we can end the day knowing, "Okay, this was a successful day."
Back to, you know, how do we see ourselves as parents at the end of the day? Well, my child feels good and I feel good.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Oh, I love that. I feel like that's the perfect note to end on. I just think it's not about us being perfect. I heard one time, "There's no one way to gentle parent", and I think that's so true.
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: It's so true.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: There's no one way and there's no perfect way. There's literally-- Perfection can't be in there because we're on our own healing journey, we're working on it.
And I also think it's so beautiful when we can show our children how to come back from their mistakes when we can do it with that grace and with that compassion for us and for them.
So, I think it's all interwoven in there; and the lingo doesn't matter so much as like, let me do my best and let relationship be what matters most. And that, like, my goal, at least for me, isn't that my child just listens to me every time I tell them to do something.
But it's that I'm like raising a human being; and I'm also human being and I'm also kind of raising me at this same time. And we're both just like here doing our best learning and growing and we're just going to keep doing it.
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: Exactly.
How to connect with KJ
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Thank you. Thank you for all of this. This has been such a great conversation, and I love how descriptive we went into about all these different styles and types; and I think it'll be helpful for listeners. If they want to connect with you, work with you, what does that look like? Do you-- What do you do?
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: Yeah, I mean, I-- Oh, so I do work outside of my Instagram; I actually work for Big Life Journal, so if you follow a Big Life Journal--
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Oh, my goodness. I love them.
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: -you see me on there. Yeah.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: What a cool job! Oh, my goodness.
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: It's amazing. I absolutely love working for Big Life Journal. I love that. What I get to do full-time is also to help parents. And so, it's like the best of both worlds.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: It's interconnected, right?
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Yes.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Because growth mindset is like all the things that we just talked about this whole time.
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: Yes. So, yes. So, definitely, check up Big Life Journal, lots of parenting resources there. And you can find me on Instagram and TikTok as Gentle Healing Mom; and message me, shoot me a DM and let me know your thoughts. And yeah, love to connect with people in my community.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Awesome. Thank you so much for coming on.
KJ, Gentle Healing Mom: Yes. Thank you, Crystal. Thanks for having me.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Thanks for listening. If you'd like to help spread this work to the world, share this episode on social media and tag me – send it to a friend, or leave a quick rating and review below so more people can find me. If you'd like more guidance on your own parenting journey, reach out.