Father and son - attachmentMother & Son - Pat-a-Cake

son & mother - attachment

Rather than try to re-invent the wheel here, let me simply quote (at maximum permissible length) the clear and accessible words of

Neu and Robinson (2010), and when they say ‘dyad,’ all they mean is child and parent as a pair (which is one under-used way to do therapy by the way):  

< http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2935695/) >

“Co-regulation is an important quality of interaction during which the dyad functions as an integrated entity to regulate each other’s behavior (Fogel, 2000). According to this view, the dyad is a functional unit that co-creates and responds to new information that was not available to them prior to the current interaction. Early mother-infant interactive history and maternal sensitivity (mother’s recognition and response to infant contributions to the interaction) are important factors contributing to co-regulated interactions (Fogel, 2000). Interactive history supports each member of the dyad to expect certain behaviors in the other that they can apply to subsequent interactive situations. However, dyads that experience flexible co-regulation adapt to new and unexpected behaviors within the interaction (novelty) and are likely to experience encounters as mutually rewarding (Legerstee, Markova, & Fisher, 2007).”  Translation: EXPECT the Spanish Inquisition! It will resolve a lot more quickly if you accept from the start that even the helathiest child-parent bonds can only ever be SEMI-stable, though ideally, PREDOMINANTLY stable. We can go so far as to say, ‘Of course they should. And can be, and shall be, if we know how to get there.’

This next quote actually preceded the above on in the original. For clarity, I’m showing it to you afterwards: “Substantial evidence indicates that high quality maternal-infant interaction is associated with infant development of self regulation, cognitive development, social competence in early childhood, positive sense of self, and secure attachment (Crockenberg, Leerkes, & Barrig Jo, 2008; Jahromi & Stifter, 2007; McElwain & Booth-LaForce, 2006; Moore & Calkins, 2004).”

My only criticism here is made On behalf of caring dads everywhere. I know of no clear scientific evidence that Dad cannot be just as effective at this. The ‘absence of evidence’ does not constitute any ‘evidence that there’s an absence’ of an equivalent sensitive parenting effect regardless of parent gender. Socio-politically, then, ‘boy’ do we have a problem.  Safe, caring, devoted, nurturant dads are not seen as equally important in Ontario family courts, for example (according to expert interviews contained in:  CBC, on Fathering Change:  http://www.cbc.ca/metromorning/columnists/mary-wiens/2015/02/12/fathering-change-1/.) So let judges hear also with their hearts. And when sound science has something to offer, whatever it may say, let them read.

Now, as we all know, there’s no upside without SOME downside. Enter co-dysregulation, But I’ll leave that to those who wish to link-out to the following. (Reed, Barnard & Butler, 2015; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4353565/ ). While huge and complex models of co-regulation exist, from neuro-chemical ones up to  multi-person groups, the graphic below, by yours truly, simply tracks the progress of the key child-parent process. We take over, little by little, from our parents, in a wedge-wise increase of emotional self-regulation. The line can wobble with life events. It’s okay to let a child be temporarily younger with you when under stress. The same even goes for adult partners. We all deserve to (consciously) take the child role and be protected and nurtured for a while by our partner — but we have to be prepared to reverse that, when he or she needs the same, some time. Gods willing, both of you never need TOO much of it at the same time. (Didn’t we used to have extended families for that?) -KM

Parent-Child_Co-Regulation_Across_the Growning_Years