with facial expressions and sometimes words. “Oh, you feel
uncomfortable and need to have your diaper changed. I SEE
The need for mirroring does not end with infancy.
Children, adolescents, and teens also need reliable caretakers
to mirror their emotions as they continue to grow and develop.
This can only happen when a parent experiences their child as
separate and distinct from her/himself. Sometimes parents
interact with their children as if they are an extension of
themselves. You only have to look as far as a local ball field on
a Saturday morning to see this dynamic in action.
As an adoptive mom, I was educated and conscious
that my daughters came to our family with complex attachment
needs. But as a mother, I was not aware of the dysfunctions on
my side of the attachment dance that had already played out
with each of my five children. I was not prepared for the
revelation of my very own adult attachment challenges as a
wife, mom, and person navigating the world. Something that
resided in an unconscious place was about to come into the
I remember sitting at an Empowered to Connect
conference for adoptive parents and hearing the story of a
mom who came face-to-face with this reality in her own life.
As she got professional help with parenting her adopted child,