The knowledge that we are part of something and at the same time separate is critical to our understanding of attachment.
Our child might not have the same experience of the same event that we have. We can give them permission to tell us they are having a different experience of this moment than we are – and not insist that there is a right way to listen to this experience and a wrong way to listen.
We can assure them that their experience has the same value as our experience, and suggest we try and find a common point that we can tell them what our experience of this event is, and so they can tell us what their experience is. Neither one of us being right or wrong, but being respectful of each other’s experience – and using attachment because we care about them.
“I care about your experience and I care about how you experience the world. And I want you to have an experience that is valid. And I want us to have an experience together that is valid.”
That is how we have to listen to each other.
That, to me, is the basis of therapy. That is the basis of what the family’s experience is.
So, if in your family you have a child who is experiencing the world in a different way from your reality, and you experience that child being angry and hostile and feeling misunderstood by you, perhaps you might say to the child, “Can we just back up a little bit and let’s hear again each other’s voice?”