If you’ve ever wondered what kind of a parent you are, and whether your kids are going to wind up spending the equivalent of a college degree in therapy (or maybe they already have), I think you’ll be grateful for my conversation with Bethany Saltman. Her journey as a mom and her book Strange Situation: A Mother’s Journey into the Science of Attachment is a gift to every parent, who like me, has been bombarded by well-intended advice about how to be the best parent in the world.
In some ways Bethany is just an average mom. But she’s also
a mom that—for much of her life—questioned if her mom ever loved her and in turn, questioned a lot about her own parenting. Bethany’s a writer, and she became obsessed with a woman named Mary Ainsworth. I’m mean really obsessed.
Mary Ainsworth was a pioneer in the psychology of child development—she died in 1999. And she came up with a procedure to systematically study how attached a child is to his or her caregiver. This is in the 1960s.
Now, terms like “secure attached,” anxious attached, avoidant attached, are tossed around pretty commonly if you eavesdrop into consultations with child psychologists and counselors. And the key to this diagnostic label is that attachment is, bar-none, the most researched area of psychology. It is bedrock. And it predicts mental illness and stability in adulthood.
Bethany Saltman is an author, editor and researcher, and her work can be seen in magazines like the New Yorker, New York Magazine, Atlantic Monthly, Parents, and many others. Strange Situation: A Mother’s Journey Into the Science of Attachment, published in April, 2020 by Random House, is her first book. New Scientist called Strange Situation One of the Best Science Books of 2020.
Bethany is a book coach for bestselling authors, communications director, and mindfulness mentor, helping writers and entrepreneurs at all stages of the creative process. She received an M.F.A in poetry from Brooklyn College, where she studied with Allen Ginsberg and published in many national journals.
A longtime Zen student, she is devoted to the fine art and game-changing effects of paying attention. She lives in a small town in the Catskills with her husband, daughter, and two dogs.