Odysseus and Attachment

George Moore wrote, "A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it."

This reminds me of what G.K. Chesterton said, that "The young man who rings the bell at the brothel is unconsciously looking for God." In our life long quest for satisfaction and happiness it is ultimately Christ we are seeking, as He is the source of all true satisfaction and happiness. This is why it's so important that we take care not to repress our children's capacity to desire, as this is what compels them ever onward toward Divine Union. If it were possible for a man to experience every possible pleasure on the face of the earth, at the end there would be nothing left but Christ. That's just it--He is the end, there is nothing else in the end but Him. The danger is in the fact that few men will live long enough to find out this way. Christ came to call us now, to free us from the slavery of sin, which is our state so long as we are seeking happiness in things. That's why every healthy relationship must begin with an act of renunciation, of detachment. Man leaves father and mother, detaches, and cleaves to his wife. If he doesn't do this completely his gift of self to his wife will not be complete. This is where I see the analogy of cellular mitosis to be most fitting. Cells have to divide completely before they can reattach to one another in a way that promotes growth. When they don't we get anomalies in nature that are not ideal. When we bring a child into the world, the kind of renunciation called for is almost total. I only say "almost" because I'm not sure it's exactly on a par with that called for in our relationship with Christ--maybe it is, I can't say for sure.

Now I'm not sure if this next part is true of cells, although I'm inclined to think it must be, but in the psychological arena, successful individuation prerequires secure attachment. "It is not good that man should be alone." We are hardwired to be attached to someone--and of course as Christians we believe that someone is Christ. Now parents can provide security that surpasses peers, as can spouses for one another, but the attachment figure who can provide security which surpasses ALL created realities is Christ. In Him we have absolute security.

Now another interesting thing about secure attachment is that those who know it, in the experiential sense, are able to share it with those who don't, or in the words of Conrad Baars, more or less, only the affirmed can affirm the unaffirmed. Studies show that children who are securely attached will relate to children who aren't in a way that offers at least a taste of its joy--in a way that provides at least a small portion of what is lacking. Parents who are secure are able to provide their children with security. Parents who are affirmed can affirm their children. We are able to share what we have received, but we cannot give what we have not received.

In the spiritual realm, only we who have been affirmed in Christ, not just sacramentally, but experientially through willingly carrying our cross with love, can share with others the affirmation of Christ which we have received. In doing so, we offer others an opportunity to know and love Christ, and to be known and loved by Him. We offer them an end to their quest, a rest to end all restlessness. We welcome them home after what, for some, has been a long and arduous journey. The world is filled with Ulysseses!

If we're conscious we stand a good chance of diminishing the possibility that our children will ever find themselves among his comrades. And if ever they do, we can trust that Christ is doing everything we're unable to do to lead them back home. It's never too late for us to do our part. Christ prefers to use us as His instruments, but doesn't need our help. It is we who need to help Him. We need to become secure attachment figures to be fully satisfied and happy.

Attachment parenting is as much for our benefit as it is for our children. It's good that babies be carried a lot, but it's better that they have parents who are generous enough to want to carry them a lot. It's good that children sleep in a place where they feel secure, but it's better that they have parents who are selfless enough to want to provide them with that security, even when they're tired. It's good that children learn to be motivated intrinsically by love, rather than extrinsically by fear, but it's better that they have parents who are meek and humble enough to want to provide them with gentle guidance and correction rather than indulging their own insecure egos whenever they feel threatened by their children's foolish choices. It is good that parents provide for all the physical, psychological and spiritual needs of their children as best they can, but it is far better that they acknowledge their inadequacy and entrust all their family's needs to Christ, the one true source of security and rest.

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Catholic Attachment Parenting

A philosophy of parenting modeled after the self-donative love exemplified in the relationship between Mary and Jesus.

1 Jn 4:18

"There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love."

Luke 1:17

"...to turn the hearts of the parents toward their children..."