Our task as parents is to encourage a process within our families whereby we minimize the cataclysmic solutions of violence, on one hand, and the giving-up that can occur through lack of protest, and turn instead towards a more acceptable resolution of attachment conflict.
This is available to us through the practice of empathy.
Empathy, sometimes called “the heartbeat of attachment”, is a feeling and thinking solution to comprehending the feeling state and actions of another. It is the skill of experiencing another person’s feelings as if they were our own, through suspending judgment and stepping into the other person’s shoes.
Empathy is a tool, and the foundation for understanding conflict and expressing reciprocity, and though for most of us it is a skill that takes time to learn and practice, mothers and babies appear to achieve the state of empathy in its most clear form. They appear to simply know the other’s present experience.
We might have the awareness, “I have feelings and you have feelings, and I want to understand that, and I am trying to get to a particular place in our relationship.” When we use this awareness we are attempting to get to empathy – a place where, “I don’t impose my values on you but I try and understand your life experience so I can understand where you are in this fight.”
Attachment is active all of the time, and each of us finds a balance somewhere, except for those people who end up killing others, or those who just give up.
That is what empathy allows us.
This psychological paradigm is not based on a value or moral system. It represents what is, not what we might prefer. It is neither dualistic nor dichotomous. We do not subscribe to either self-destruction or violence as a preferential solution to attachment conflict.