Your story started with your relationship with your parents. Every child needs 6 things from his or her parents. In this episode, I discuss these “Big Six” needs. I also explain two kinds of relational styles that result from being either dismissed by your parents or being asked to be a parent rather than a child.

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Free Resources
How to Write a Story
The Big Six: What Every Child Needs From Their Parents
Attachment: What It Is and Why It Matters

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Your story started with your relationship with your parents. A child’s brain is formed primarily by the relational experiences she has with her parents. Every child has 6 core relational needs. You needed your parents to be 1) attuned to you, 2) responsive to you, 3) engaged with you, 4) able to regulate your affect, 5) strong enough to handle your negative emotions, and 6) willing to own and rectify harm done. Adam explains two kinds of relational styles that result from being either dismissed by your parents or being asked to be a parent rather than a child.
A healthy, trusting attachment is not built on the absence of failure but on the willingness of the parent to own and rectify failures when they do occur.
No parent gets it right 100% of the time. Parents get tired, distracted, and frustrated. They get stressed out trying to do a hundred things at once.
There are times when even the best parents are not attuned or responsive. The parent-child connection ruptures frequently.
But the mark of a ‘good enough’ caregiver is that these ruptures are repaired through a process of reattunement and re-engagement with the child. What mattered to you as a child was not that your parents got it right each time, but that they recognized when they missed you or hurt you and responded in a way that brought comfort and reconnection.

When I say “your relationship with your parents” what do I mean?
Well, God created human beings as fundamentally relational beings.
We are created in the image of triune God… etc.
A child’s brain is formed primarily by the relational experiences she has with her parents.
Every child has 6 core relational needs.
Attunement.
Were your parents so attuned to you that they knew what you were feeling?
A parent that is distracted by their own needs, wants, emotions, and personal pain cannot be attuned to your needs. Does that describe your Mom? your Dad? Give scenarios.
You didn’t need your parents to perfectly attune to you. The core of attunement is not reading you right. It’s recognizing when you are feeling unheard or unseen and then pressing in to try to understand what’s happening for you.
It is in the process of misattunement, and then re-attunement that you come to feel safe with your parents, that you come to feel like they are truly there for you.
Responsiveness. When you were distressed (mad, sad, afraid), did your parents respond to you? Did they offer comfort, care, and kindness?
Q: Did your parents read your face?
Some of you actually want to believe that your parents were NOT attuned to you… because if they were, if they knew when you were hurting, then it means that they didn’t care that you were hurting—they didn’t respond to your hurt.
Again, what mattered to you as a child was not that your parents got it right each time, but that they recognized when they missed you or hurt you and responded in a way that brought comfort and reconnection.
No responsiveness = you know something of abandonment
Engagement. Did your parents have an internal intention and genuine desire to truly know you—to know your heart? Were they willing and able to engage with you on a heart level? Were you pursued by your parents?
Neuroscientist Curt Thompson is fond of saying that when each one of us comes into this world, we enter it looking for someone looking for us.
Our deepest desire is that there will be someone looking for us, and that this person will always be there for us and will pursue our hearts with a genuine desire to truly know us.
The core of abandonment is not physical abandonment; it is a lack of attunement, responsiveness, and engagement from your parents.
Back to Curt Thompson — “We can grow up in homes in which the food finds the table, the money finds the college funds, and the family even finds the church each Sunday; but somehow our hearts remain undiscovered by the two people we most need to know us—our parents.”
Q: Did your heart remained undiscovered by your parents? If it did, then that had a big impact on your developing brain.
Able to regulate your affect.
“Affect” refers to your internal emotional state. It’s the felt sense of what is happening in your body. It ranges from numb and shut down to terrified and panicked.
Whenever you are stressed, your affect is dysregulated.
As a child you had limited ability to regulate your own affect. And as an infant, you had no ability. the infant is utterly dependent on their mother’s ability to regulate it for them.
When you were distressed as a child, you needed to soothe you when you were anxious or scared, and stimulate you when you were shutting down.
If your mother was attuned enough to you and willing to respond to you and engage with you, then she was able to effectively regulate your affect.
As an infant you had absolutely no ability to regulate your own affect.
However, if your mother was able to regulate your affect, then she enabled you to learn how to regulate it—to calm your own anxiety and spring to life again when you were going numb.
Strong enough to handle your negative emotions. Did your parents welcome your anger, sadness, and fear?
As a child, you needed to be free to express negative emotions—to cry, rage, or fall silent—knowing that you would be responded to in a meaningful way.
You needed to know deep down that your emotions were accepted and allowed.
Q: Was that the case for you or did you have this sense that your “negative emotions” were somehow unwelcome?
Perhaps your family too fragile to bear the weight of your unedited soul?
You needed to feel the freedom to say, “I hate you” or “you don’t love me” or “you’re mean” knowing that you wouldn’t be met with “How can you say that?” or “Don’t you know that hurts mommy’s feelings?” or “You selfish little boy!”
My 5 year old son Eli looked me square in the eye and angrily said something really disrespectful.
And my bodily experience of it was shock. I had this sense of “you have no idea what I could do to you.” And I felt that b/c I never, ever expressed anger at my Dad… b/c I knew he would have exploded on me. I was terrified of him.
On the more humous side: My 8 year old daughter was furious at me and she screamed, “The rocket ship of ‘Not Caring About Me’ is blasting off and you’re driving it.”
Willingness to repair. When your parents hurt you, did they own and rectify the harm done?
A healthy, trusting attachment is not built on the absence of failure but on the willingness of the parent to own and rectify failures when they do occur.
No parent gets it right 100% of the time. Parents get tired, distracted, and frustrated. They get stressed out trying to do a hundred things at once.
There are times when even the best parents are not attuned or responsive. The parent-child connection ruptures frequently.
But the mark of a ‘good enough’ caregiver is that these ruptures are repaired through a process of reattunement and re-engagement with the child. What mattered to you as a child was not that your parents got it right each time, but that they recognized when they missed you or hurt you and responded in a way that brought comfort and reconnection.