Whenever you welcomed a child home, you undoubtedly learned that there really is no handbook for parenting or handling a young child. There is no one “best” method of parenting. Your attachment style will be influenced by your upbringing, the parental styles of others, and, to a certain degree, your ethnic background. Handling elderly parents is about the same. As humans age, our mental health reverts and this is perhaps why handling a child and handling elderly parents are considered synonymous.
If you, as a caretaker, are finding it hard to understand your elderly parent, understanding their attachment style might be beneficial because you would understand how to tend to their needs. Outlined below are some common attachment styles that might be useful for you to dive deeper into your parental relationship and understand them better.
1. SECURE STYLE
A parent that has this style of attachment to their child would often be comfortable with the dynamic of the relationship. These are happy and trusting parents who are quite easy to handle. This type of parent would not be too demanding and would understand your need for independence and individuality. All you got to do is spend time with them!
2. AVOIDANCE STYLE
This type of parent hates the idea of being submissive and wants to stay in control in a child-parent relationship. A parent falling in his category would not want you to do things for them unless they ask and they might get agitated if you want to convenience them. You can try to be understanding if you find your elderly parent falling into this category and try to have a deep meaningful conversation with them where you explain your emotions and your intent. Patience is key here.
3. AMBIVALENT STYLE
A parent with an ambivalent attachment style is clingy. They want to stay with you and never want you to leave their side. Topics of independence are no-go because they feel abandoned if you bring up the idea of wanting to be alone. Such highly anxious parents are dependent on you excessively and they might get tricky to handle. You can try conversing with them about your need for independence and ensure you cut them some slack. Find time to fit them into your daily schedule and bring them gifts or do acts of service for them to make them feel loved.
4. DISORGANIZED STYLE
Parents having this form of attachment are hot and cold. They might be very attentive and nurturing for a while and they might want to spend a lot of time with you one day but the next day they want to isolate and they seem irritated for no cause. They do not have a grasp over their emotions and they might treat you differently based on how they are feeling at the moment. If you find them reclosing and displaying erratic behavior, give them space. Do not try to force a conversation with them during those moments as it might make their outbursts worse.
Attachment styles and the way they might impact your parental relationships are an essential part of the process if you are a caretaker. The truth is, the attachment style varies based on the parent and hence there is no real guideline for you to follow. You might find yourself demotivated and hurt but help yourself to envision the bigger picture.