I keep thinking about the developmental psychology class I took a while back that explored the “Attachment Theory,” the beauty of “being there” as a parent and the miraculous things that does for our children.

It is no cakewalk with all the distractions going on in this world of ours, I can attest to that for sure.

But there are so many little things we can do that really are the big things.

One of which is predictability.

I took notes on this quote and have thought about it a lot ever since my class:

And when children live in an environment that is relatively responsive and predictable, where there’s a sense of security
and safety, it promotes the development of healthy brain architecture. It promotes the development of a healthy immune system. It promotes the development of healthy cardiovascular function and metabolic regulatory systems, creating a strong foundation for lifelong health and effective development.

In contrast, when children grow up in an environment of constant, threat, constant burdens, heavy burdens that influence everyday function, the stress system is activated excessively. It produces what we call toxic stress, and that disrupts the development of brain circuits during their critical periods. It disrupts the cardiovascular system. It disrupts the immune system and creates the foundation for a greater risk for a whole host of physical and mental health problems and difficulties and learning.

“It all comes down to a very simple message, which is early experiences literally shape our biology, create either a strong or a weak foundation for all the health, learning, and behavior that follow for a lifetime.”

I love thinking about those systems of predictability, whether they are little things like tucking our child in bed each night with a bedtime story, or a prayer huddle before they leave for school, or that beautiful “welcoming response” when they come into a room.

Simple things make such a difference in mothering.

I adore this painting by Brian Krishesnik:

The closeness of a mother and child.

The beauty of showing a child new things. Of teaching. Of that natural melting of bodies into each other.

Yes, motherhood is a powerful thing.

Other posts about parent/child attachment:

The Welcoming Response

Still-Face Experiment

Being There…Even if You Miss What You’re There For

3 Tips for Making Your Teenagers Like You

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  1. Thank you for this post Shawni! We are living this exact thing with our granddaughter right now. At our house, we are her constant and predictable. When she returns to her Mom’s it is chaos. Our granddaughter gets super stressed out when she knows it is time to go back to her Mom. As a Grandma, it breaks my heart!

    Thank you for all the light you are and share 🙂

  2. I love this quote and wonder if it’s research based. I tried to parent using routines and expectations as comfort. Children have so much to learn, routines let them discover and not worry about needs like food, sleep, cleanliness, family time, etc. Since we both worked, my husband and I even kept the same lunch and nap schedule as the babysitter in the toddler years.

    Just recently I was reminded of a quote from President Obama from a few years ago about wearing similar clothes every day, “You need to focus your decision making energy. You need to routinize yourself. You can’t be going through the day distracted by trivia.” I feel like giving children predictable and safe environments allows them to spend their energy on learning and growing (definitely not trivial!) and that some adults like Obama apply what parents/adults have them to adulthood.

    Thanks for sharing….really found meaning in that quote.

  3. Hi Shawni! I just love that quote and it really seems to fit a developing theory that I am thinking about. I don’t know if this quote would apply to youth and young adults but I’m seeing something that I am want to blame on Covid with young adults. Where they were on a trajectory in life and then after Covid it seems that trajectory changed, contrary to the course they had been on all of their lives up to that point, and I have been wondering if there were some “brain circuits” that were rewired at that time of “unpredictability”, where our youth and young adults did not feel safe, and perhaps your quote could apply in this situation where their stress system was activated excessively, affecting their development. As adults maybe we could make more sense of that time but didn’t realize what an impact it was having on our youth and young adults. Hmm. I’ve just been wondering about this. Thank you for being so insightful. I always love reading what you share.

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