Food for thought: attachment vs. autonomy

How does one find a good balance between living relationships and enjoying freedom?How can I fulfill my need for independence without neglecting important relationships?

At the beginning of life relationships are central: Babies need protection, nourishment and reliable and predictable carers. Forming a close attachment to their newborn has utmost priortity for both the parents and the baby. In order to build a relationship to the newborn it is important to spend a lot of time with each other (most parents do this willingly and instinctively). Only by giving their attention can parents learn to understand their child, get a feel for their rhythm, preferences, utterances, likes and dislikes.

But what do we do with our adult needs? Only because we have become a father or a mother, these do not disappear- priorities change but this does not have to mean self-denial. No doubt parents give up some of their personal freedom to donate to “family time”. However this phase is finite and good planning can enable some islands of freedom outside of family duties. One precondition to enjoying freetime away from the baby and the family, is being aware of this need, allowing it and fullfilling it. This will in the long run charge up ones batteries and benefit all relationships.

From the moment of birth the child moves away from the parents and strives to know the world, explore it. Children are only able to do so, if parents allow their children some leeway and trust in their compentence. Equally in adult relationships the topic attachment versus freedom can lead to tension. Most people have too much of one and too little of the other. Either they feel controlled and restrained, or they are in permanent fear of losing their relationship and ending up alone. A stable and happy relationship needs the autonomy of each individual which can be found in a fullfilling job or hobby. However people are only connected to one another, if they know what moves the other- time needs to be reserved for these exchanges. Finding a good balance between attachment and autonomy seems to be one of the most important tasks in life.


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