Back when attachment was not considered “a thing,” there was a pocket of researchers studying the parent/infant bond. Their work spawned the attachment revolution in parenting, brain science, relationship building, and treatment of mental health problems. I won’t bore you with the details, except to say that one of the most salient experiments conducted was called the “Still Face.” To me, the experiment has a painfully cruel aspect to it; that said, we learned a lot about how a child is affected by the facial expression of the mother. It holds for fathers, too, but those experiments (to my knowledge) have not been done. I truly wonder why.
When YOU are stressed out, angry, tired, or loving too long from your mind (rather than the part of your mind we call heart), your face betrays you to your attachment challenged child. Your face becomes incongruent, your eyes lose their twinkle, and your voice lacks the warmth that the glow of love gives it. YOU may be going through the motions of parenting, but a “Still Face” can be detected just below the surface.
Your child can feel via the conduit of your facial expressions and eyes that YOU are not emotionally present, which immediately sends a signal to that child that you are unsafe, unloving, cold–hateful even. Attachment panic will likely spring up and emotionally dysregulated behavior will not be far behind.
YOU cannot fake it for very long before your attachment challenged child takes it in as something bad about him/her and something bad about YOU.
If YOU are chronically faking, get help for yourself. Find a confidante, a church member, another adoptive parent, support group or a therapist for support. YOU are doing one of the hardest things on earth–parenting a traumatized child. Island, rock, martyr are not synonyms for mother or father.