I just finished a training series called Complex Trauma and Dissociation Across the Lifespan with three amazing clinicians: Ana Gomez, Dolores Mosquera, and Kathy Steele.
As with any good training, I took away old concepts understood in new ways. The above quote is from one of the presenters and really encapsulated something profound. Caregivers do not have to be horribly abusive to cause significant problems in their children.
Attunement in the caregiver-child relationship is the ability of the caregiver to be aware of and respond to a child’s needs – whether it is for their basic needs for food, shelter, and love, or their more complex needs of being seen, validated and loved for who they are.
With misattunement the caregiver cannot meet the child’s needs. Sometimes it is because their view of their child is distorted by their own trauma history. Sometimes it is distorted by their religious up-bringing and see sin where there is only difference. Sometimes it is because their view of their child is distorted by their hopes and dreams for their child, or their dislike and distain of aspects of themselves they see in their child.
Whatever the reason for this misattunement, it can have a profound effect on the child. It can leave an attachment wound that contributes to anxiety, self-doubt and shame in the adult.
If you experience any of these things and are still struggling in adulthood, particularly with shame, I want you to know it is not your fault. Your struggles are valid, even if there was no overt abuse.