Still Face

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.
Love Matters,
Ce Eshelman, LMFT
The Attach Place Logo The Attach Place provides a monthly no fee Trust-based Adoptive Parent Support Group in Sacramento, every 2nd Wednesday of each month.  Next group is April 8th. Come join us.  Online RSVPeach month required.   Child care provided.
Next 10-hr. Trust-based Parenting Course  is planned for May 16th and May 23th, 10am to 3pm each day.  Child care provided for an extra fee. Sign-up online at
Next Hold Me Tight Couples Workshop by Robin Blair, LMFT at The Attach Place is planned for April 17th, 18th and 19th.
The Attach Place supports The Wounded Warrior Project by providing free neurofeedback to veterans.  Feel free to send a soldier our way for an assessment and 20 session course of treatment.
Feel free to send this link to friends or family members who you would like to receive Daily YOU Time: Wisdom for Adoptive Parents.

Empathy is truly the answer.


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