Are your children like strangers to you

Don't be afraid of strangers

The older man is sitting in the wing chair in our living room. He is interested in our cat Flitzi, for whom we are looking for a new home. Mr. Dreher is in his 70s, tall and looks very friendly, smiles mischievously and speaks freely. Flitzi strokes his legs quite atypically and lets himself be caressed extensively. Our four-year-old son also immediately fell in love with Mr. Dreher.

He tells about "his" Flitzi and shows the visitor the plane he has just built. And then he climbs on his lap and hugs him. "Not at all," I think, but don't say anything and just smile, embarrassed. I feel a bit uncomfortable with our son's outburst of emotion. Mr. Dreher also seems to have been taken by surprise.

The difference between attachment disorder and openness

The scene doesn't let go of me for a long time. I'm confused. Does our child have a bad bond with us? It always means that children who are strangers are securely bound. Does the opposite then apply to children who are not strangers? Tanja Kretz-Bünese, graduate psychologist and psychotherapeutic director of the university outpatient department for child and adolescent psychotherapy at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich, reassures me when I describe the situation to her. "The atmosphere was relaxed, you had a positive attitude yourself. Your son felt safe," summarizes Tanja Kretz-Bünese. You could translate the behavior of our four-year-old as follows: If mom and dad like the man, I like him too.

A child with an attachment disorder would be so open to any stranger, explains the psychologist. In such a case, for example, the parcel deliverer would be loved just as much as the neighbor. If, on the other hand, the child is well bonded but very open, it would always come back to a safe base in a stressful situation - i.e. to mom and dad.