Difference between healthy attachment and inappropriate closeness

Psychologist Kenneth M. Adams, PhD explains the difference between healthy attachment and inappropriate closeness between a parent and child
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Difference between healthy attachment and inappropriate closeness

So an important question is, is when does the line get crossed between a normal love relationship between mother and son, and father and daughter, and vice versa, and one that's inappropriate where the childs meeting the parent's needs? Let me say first, there's a normal love affair. Any parent knows that. They fall in love with their child. The child falls in love with them. It's a wonderful experience and that is the early budding if you will, the beginning of what the child will then take away into the world as their first love experience and you want that to be a good experience, you know? You want to love your child. You want to let your child love you. There's nothing wrong with it. So I want to make sure I reassure parents that I'm not talking about loving your child is a bad thing, in fact it's a good thing. So the normal love affair and I'll call it that on purpose between parent, child, it's a wonderful thing and so when the kids say I want to marry you mommy, that is not something they've learned on TV. It's biologically hardwired. I want to have babies with you. It's hardwired. My son said to my wife at the age of five I want to marry you and have babies. I about fell over. In my second book, the title of which is When He's Married to Mom, my son was six, he says, oh, What's the title of your new book daddy? I says oh, well, it's called When He's Married to Mom. He goes, oh, that's a very good title, he said. And so he was having a very sweet innocent love affair, right? And there's nothing wrong with that, but if the parent then exploits or uses that in the service of her own or his needs of being lonely, frustrated with his or her experiences with adults, and they begin to chronically, I mean, frequently and often over time, bring the child into their world and meet your needs, I want you to love me only, that's when the line gets crossed because that's not fair to the child because the child naturally wants to love the parent. The parent is always responsible for holding the boundary.

Psychologist Kenneth M. Adams, PhD explains the difference between healthy attachment and inappropriate closeness between a parent and child


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Kenneth M. Adams, PhD

Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Kenneth M. Adams, Ph.D., CSAT, is a Licensed Psychologist, the Clinical Director and Founder of Kenneth M. Adams and Associates in suburban Detroit, Michigan, as well as a faculty member at the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals. As previous Clinical Director for the Life Healing Center in Sante Fe, New Mexico, a residential treatment center for trauma and addiction, Dr Adams created the first inpatient program exclusively for partners of sex addicts. In addition to maintaining an active clinical practice, Dr. Adams is a national lecturer, workshop leader, and consultant in the areas of child abuse, dysfunctional family systems, and sex addiction. He is the author of numerous peer-reviewed publications, the books Silently Seduced and When He’s Married to Mom, as well as co-editor of Clinical Management of Sex Addiction. In 2011, Dr Adams received the “Carnes Award” for “outstanding work in the field of sexual addiction and compulsivity”. He is a certified Sex Addiction Therapist (CSAT), a CSAT supervisor, and CSAT training facilitator as well as an Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) practitioner. Dr. Adams is a member of the American Psychological Association, Michigan Psychological Association, Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health (SASH), and International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals (IITAP) as well as an advisory board member to SASH and IITAP, and an editorial board member of Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention. For more on Dr Adams visit www.drkenadams.com.


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