Emotional Connection & Detachment


When a human being is conceived he or she begins existence in a state of extraordinary intimacy, attachment and connection. The body of our mother holds us in continual warm, safe contact as our own body develops. For months we remain in this wonderful, constantly embracing space. Our initial experience of separation takes place in the trauma of childbirth. We feel our first painful rejection as we get forcefully disconnected from our sanctuary of perfect safety, contentment and bliss.

From the moment of childbirth we begin social interaction. Fragile and utterly dependent we rely on our caregivers for everything. They must provide us with all of our needs and protect us from all dangers. Our survival requires great vigilance from them. Under their supervision we experience our most intense psychological and physiological development.

This is our first opportunity to develop trust. In the best of circumstances our caretakers will be trustworthy guardians. While some will take advantage of our defenselessness leads us to develop mistrust in the worst of them. We are born without boundaries and without the ability to defend ourselves. Beneficial caretakers will create healthy boundaries for us.

Those who develop trust early will have a much easier time developing trusting relationship throughout their lifetime. While those who suffer trauma, betrayal, neglect, abuse or abandonment will have a long and sometimes nearly impossible road towards developing healthy trusting relationships.

Those of us who are fortunate, are born into a situation that is conducive to forming strong emotional attachments with other people. Good caretakers will provide us with all of our basic needs and protect us from all preventable harm. This behavior will allow us to trust in them as we grow, mature and develop as physical and emotional beings. This gives us the inclination to view the world as a trustworthy place.


As we grow we become more consciously aware of social dynamics. This capacity relies on our ability to sense the emotions of others. Social intimacy involves being in touch, in communication and in synchronization with other people.

Being in touch with the emotions of another person depends on our capacity for sympathy. Sympathy is our main ability to know what the other is feeling. We know what the other is feeling by a process of experiencing emotions like those that another is experiencing. This often takes place without any conscious intention. It normally does not take a lot of effort to know what the other is feeling. This is a body sense that operates all the time. It is a form of non-verbal communication.

This communication can take place between different individuals or between individuals and groups. We have probably all had the experience of walking into a room with a group of people where you could cut the tension with a knife. We instantly know the emotional state of the group. Our ability to know what emotions other human beings are feeling is a beneficial ability. This allows us to function well as a group. Schizophrenics, as one example of the opposite, often lack the ability to “read” a social situation and have emotions that are inappropriate to it.

When we are in synchronization we are literally sharing time as one. We are together in the same exact moment. This involves extremely rapid non-verbal communication. Dancers in synch moving together appear almost magical. On the other hand, two figure skating partners a moment out of synch can have a disastrous performance.

Estrangement is the state of being out of touch, out of communication and out of synch. Emotional detachment can stem from a lack of capacity to be sensitive or a willful intention to be insensitive. Estrangement is being as distant as you can be from another, separated in every way possible.

For example, our capacity for sympathy is usually diminished towards strangers. We do not pick up on their non-verbal communication as quickly as we can from people with whom we are familiar. This experience often produces tension and anxiety. Small children who usually act outgoing may suddenly act shy and withdrawn in the presence of unfamiliar people because of this feeling of anxiety.

Our ability to experience sympathy for another can also get diminished by choice. We can choose to become insensitive to the feelings of others. This can function as a highly focused insensitivity that focuses on only a single individual or it can be generalized to specific groups of people. This willful insensitivity can also be directed against yourself.

The experience of connection and disconnection can operate independently from physical proximity. Two who stand right next to each other can experience absolutely no connection. While those who are intimate, even while on opposite side of the planet, can stay in touch with each other.


What does it mean to be in touch? We touch objects each and every day, but this is significantly different from touching another person. When we touch a cup, a plate or a book we experience a sensation, but the object has no experience. We know the object, while the mindless object remains ignorant of us.

When we touch another person we have our own sensation while they have their own sensation. We are both instantly active participants in the process. We both do the action of touching and are the recipient of being touched simultaneously. One receives information in the same moment as the other receives information. One body can be passive while the other is active, as one partner gently caresses while the other remains still. Or both bodies can be active, moving while touching one another.

Touch takes two separate and independent systems and transforms them into a new singular and interconnected system. We become one system with two bodies when we touch.

A tired child seeks out the comfort of her mother’s touch when she raises her arms, asking to be carried. We hug a friend who has received devastating news in an action far more reassuring than any words could ever be. People feel calmed by gently stroking the fur of a pet.

Yet if one stops touching by moving away, then the connection is broken. Two bodies once again become two systems. Then the two can become one again once they get back in touch. They can reconnect and become a single system again. This is the dance of intimacy.

What of those separate systems the never get in touch, that always remain out of touch from one another? They will experience no communication, no connection and no synchronization. They will never experience togetherness.

Touch can also serve as a metaphor for emotional connection. We call sentimental events touching moments. When something emotionally moves someone we say that it touched his or her heart. We might call this our subtle touch.

Genuine emotional intimacy, real closeness requires a lowering of ones guard. Two clad in armor cannot touch one another. One in emotional armor cannot touch or be touched by one who is emotionally naked. Only two, fully exposed, completely vulnerable, can experience complete emotional intimacy. This remarkable trust and trustworthiness between two individuals creates the daring, heady, revitalizing, thrilling, and almost supernatural experience of true love. Suffice to say, this is rare.


A community is a group of people who trust one another and connect with each other. Connection is dependant on trust, so trusting each other is the first step to creating a community. Distrust severs connections and prevents new connections from forming. Distrust can break a community. This kind of community disintegration has been dramatically highlighted during incidents such as the Salem Witch Trials or the Red Scare.

Being a member of a community changes one’s sense of identity. The focus of one’s sense of identity widens to encompass the community. When you connect with other people you become something greater than just your physical self.

We avoid harming those with whom we identify. “He is one of my people. He is one of ours. He is one of us.” When you detach, disconnect and separate yourself from your victim that makes it easier to harm him. You can accomplish this by excluding him from your community. This can be accomplished in an absolute method by excluding him from the human community, in effect dehumanizing him.

Connection discourages violence, while disconnection enables it.

In the modern age in industrially advanced countries we often lack a strong sense of belonging to any kind of community. We feel disconnected and detached. This is a stressful and painful state. Too often we look towards instant gratification to fill the hole left by the absence of genuine connection with other people. This is a short-term solution with diminishing returns. We have to amplify our gratifications in frequency and often in kind to compensate for this buildup of tolerance. We cannot get enough of what we truly do not need. No amount of gratification will substitute for our genuine need for connection and attachment with other human beings. The drive to connect is tied with our drive to survive. We know that the only way we can survive is to connect with other human beings. Connection and community have always served humanity to ensure our continued survival.

The Force of Habit

There is a force that influences us to repeat an action or a choice, over and over, again and again. This is the force of habit. The force of habit operates uninfluenced by the harmfulness or the beneficial consequence of our behavior. A habit is a passive choice, an automatic choice usually made without any conscious intention. When we operate under the force of habit we don’t actively think, we just act.

A harmful habit can have the exact same force as a beneficial habit. Discerning the harmfulness or the beneficial nature of a habit is a task for our attention. We can easily ignore the consequences of our habits, operating on autopilot.

We can change a habit only by making active, deliberate and conscious choices in a situation where we normally allow habit to make the choice for us. The force of habit can be compared to gravity. As we change a habit its gravity initially works against our effort and then works to aid our effort as we establish a new center of gravity.

Apathy and Sadism

Emotional detachment helps to enable our capacity for willfully administered harm. Strong emotional detachment is called apathy. Apathy is an inability to feel sympathy for another’s experience. This makes the administration of pain to others significantly less consequential. “If I will hurt you, then I will feel nothing.” This can be the result of deliberate and active refusal to feel as the other feels. This can also be the result of a habit, a passive choice that is the result of so much deliberate refusal from the past. When you are in touch with the pain of another, then it is more difficult to willfully cause them pain because you hurt when they hurt.

Apathy toward those you harm can include the experience of dominance. “If I hurt you, then I will feel stronger than you.”

Staring from apathy a relationship can also develop into sadism, “If I hurt you, then I will feel pleasure.” Apathy is subject to the force of habit and like all habits it can be difficult to break.

Internal Detachment

One of the fascinating things about emotional detachment is that an individual can be detached not only from the emotions of others. A person can also be disconnected from their own emotions. This can extend beyond a temporary period. A single individual can live in a prolonged state of estrangement from his or her own emotions. They may develop increased insensitivity to their own feelings. A person who is estranged from their own emotions is also more likely to be disconnected from the emotions of others.

This kind of emotional disconnection can be sustained for years. Being detached from your own emotions is not without cost. There is an ever-present anxiety created by the hidden emotions. For while emotions can be ignored, ignoring them won’t make them go away. The emotions remain, unresolved.


The cell membrane provides us with a model of healthy boundaries.

Boundaries keep two regions of space distance from one another. Without boundaries two spaces become one space. The basic boundary between two individuals is the ego. Each individual has an ego that bounds his or her own space. The boundary of this space operates like a cell membrane selectively accepting some things while blocking out others. A cell needs nourishment from its environment and so do individuals need nourishment from their environment. Yet there are also toxins that try to get into the cell that must be blocked from entry. Likewise there are toxins in the human environment.
Toxic emotions can penetrate into our space making us feel uncomfortable or violated.

An emotionally toxic environment where no nourishment is available can lead to a buildup of blocking habits. The individual in an emotionally toxic environment can learn to block out all outside inputs. Then the nourishment gets rejected along with the toxins. The person is closed off from everything.
Discernment helps us to identify what is nourishing and what is toxic. Or as short hand what people are likely to give us nourishment and what people are likely to give us toxins.

I really enjoyed reading this. I would comment on it, but it’s through enough for me that any point I can think of making right now has already been said. I could start applying it’s meaning to myself and give examples, but I think I already do too much of that in the forum as it is.

Very nice.

Whew! I am glad that somebody said something. I felt a bit concerned that nobody would take the time to read through it here.

As the author I would appreciate any additional feedback you might have. Even if you decide to PM me with that info, I would be very grateful.

I like the sections on “touch” and “apathy and sadism” the best because they made me think about myself and things I may not have considered- like getting satisfaction out of hurting someone which I mentioned in another thread called “take 50 mg of evil” or something close to that. I am not a cruel person by nature but I suppose there are some relationships that develop from time to time where those types of actions and feelings come up.

On touch- I just don’t believe that simply by the act of touching two people become one system. You mentioned picking up a cup, though in a different context than what I’m about to say for myself… when I touch a person 9 times out of 10 it feels like picking up a cup. I just don’t feel anything. I feel a bit more when I’m having sex with someone because the arousal factor makes the touching highly interactive- I can feel the pure energy of the other person. If I love some one then I do feel for them when I hold them or kiss them- it doesn’t always have to depend on a sex act, but usually I’d prefer it to. I’ll stop and leave it at that because I’m straying from critique. I’ve been drinking so perhaps this isn’t the best critique I can give and I know my wording could be better.

Elements of what you’ve written here strike me as somewhat simplistic, but that may just be because I’ve already figured them out or read them before. l like seeing them together here though, merged with everything else. The piece is cohesive and I like the organization of it, the headings separating the different topics and the order they are presented in. Ok, well maybe the last two headings could have been flip flopped in order so that you end with the “internal detachment”, which in a sense brings full circle your idea by returning to the womb and the trauma of being born, which I see as the first great detachment, without having to write some kind of closing statement.

[contented edited by ILP]

That’s very true- my mind is like putty and I’ve forgotten nearly everything I learned in school until it’s brought up and called to my attention.

…hmmm may be that’s where I read it before- maybe I should lay off the drugs… :astonished: Cool!

Thank you for all of this feedback. I see all of it as very useful

I am glad that there where parts of this that you found realted to your personally. I was hope for that kind of impact.

That is a good distinction. I agree with you not all touch is the same. It would be overly simplified for me to imply that all touch created such a powerful connection. We can touch another and still not really connect with them.

I am thankful for all your feedback even if you were drunk when you wrote it.

I wanted to overstate rather than understate. And some of this might be nothing more that verbalized common sense.

That is a wondeful suggestion. I have realized recently that I am awful at endings. I did write this open ended, but your suggestion does make for a easy way to wrap the piece up.

I appreciate your reflections,

Yes yes! I see that too. Especially with my section on birth. I am actually something a fan of Erikson. I did come to the same sort of conclusions from a somewhat different direction.

Thank you for reading it.

I’m glad that you got something out of what I wrote. It’s important when you write something, like the essays you post here, to get feedback. Otherwise it feels like you’re just shouting into space. You’re also not learning anything if there’s no discussion.

:slight_smile: Hi,
This is my first time here. Got here from a search done on Google on “Emotional Detachment”.
This is a “theme” that has been making me lose my sleep.
It is beyond my understanding how some families can funtion under emotion ZERO and the damage done to themselves. And to those who come in the family !
I’ve been married for about 2 years, and feel terribly lonely sometimes because my husband is completely numb. He is “emotionaly dead” to things that would make me want to punch someone… And not that I’m short tempered, but I am made of blood, and feelings, and would like to see myself as someone that has some self-respect.
How can a person be alive and not have a single passion in their lives, at least one little thing that makes them jump with excitement?
How can a person exhist without knowing what they want in their lives? I am not saying high goals, bla, bla, practical stuff, I am talking about not knowing how to dream, to feel, to be free, to see stuff that is right up your nose…
My husbands family is made of “amazing actors” who act like if everything is always peachy, and nothing ever changes! Everything is soooooo perfect, and so under control.
I think there’s something they hide.
There are some unsaid rules that I refuse to follow and I just chose to do not fit in, because I’d go nuts if I have to be like they expect me to be…
Is this a cultural thing?
:astonished: Or is this some psychological abuse system?
I really would ike to be able to make some sense of this…
:blush: Thanks,

A lot of people seem to be like this and a disproportionate amount of them seem to be men. I had 8 years of what you’re talking about. For more on life, change, anxiety, love and passion- go ahead and browse my posts. Regarding the not knowing of what to do with one’s life (which I also suffer from by the way) you can see the “Diversions” thread. I happen to be female by the way- in case you thought I was a man… did you? That’s been up for discussion recently.

A Google search and the next thing you know you’re at ILP- oh no… :astonished:
…ha ha ha enjoy yourself RoseMary! I hope you stick around…

I liked that article.

I couldnt help but feel a little detached though.

I would like to see your views on the relationship between different types of people.

Not just passive and aggressive, but mabey something about sadist people who detach themselves on one hand but ignore how they are completely dependent on other people.

I dont know… good article though

I really liked the parts about sympathy, touch, community, habit and detachment. The story of the baby starting from conception seemed a bit far-fetched.

I like Fromm’s theories of psychological sadism and masochism, in which I recall him defining masochism as the attempt to control others, to force them to conform with our projection of what they “should” be, and masochism as a desire to be controlled, and lose ourself in another, or let another define our self.

I have a friend who is FULL of anger. He is gay and has aids, and is constantly angry at his family, people in the community, etc. I think a lot of what he says about them could be interpreted as sadistic. However, I don’t think it is appropriate to analyze this merely as a lake of empathy for the people he “hates” and the pleasure gained by striking out at them. I think the anger, perceived threat, and rejection, is what moves a person to “sadistic” action, more than the pleasure of the act. So it is more that he is consumed with his own problems and sees violence (in words or actions) as a way to achieve “justice.” Personally, I feel I can be very bitter, satirical, sarcastic, and mean, at times. And I think this comes from the battles I play out in my head with people who disagree with me, don’t like me, insult me, etc. Certainly, it is a narcisistic state of mind.

Which leads me to boundaries. Certainly when I feel this way–rejected, bitter, angry–I am toxic to be around; and someone looking for nourishment would do right for themselves by filtering me out. And likewise for me, if I am around people like this–like my friend perhaps. However, this seems to me to be a bit selfish. Perhaps the people who emit the most toxic energy need friends, contact the most?

I interpret boundaries more as having a relationship without losing myself in the other, or forcing the other to be like me. I recall Fromm saying this is necessary for real loving to happen.

Hello Xanderman

I appreciate the efforts you’ve put into explaining your reasoning. I don’t know what sort of reply is welcomed so without getting too heavy, I’ll just throw some ideas onto the table.

First, I don’t know if you really mean sympathy or if you mean empathy. Sympathy allows for acknowledging the worth of another’s emotions. Empathy is the experience of the same emotion. Acknowledging the worth of an emotion doesn’t necessarily mean the experience of it and this worth can often only be the results of your own personal values.

But is this by definition a good thing? Cult communities are maintained from just such trust. The Jonestown massacre back in 1978 was an expression of such trust. Was it a good thing?

Connection may discourage violence between those in the community but woe to the one not in the community. Have you ever witnessed mob mentality? This is ultimate emotional connection and unity in purpose. Unfortunately this purpose is often stringing up some poor unfortunate not part of this group connection.

I don’t believe this is true. If someone is truly apathetic they do not care enough to cause harm. True apathy is when nothing is important emotionally. In such cases, there is no incentive towards violence.

What may appear as apathy is really emotional suppression which, of course, can blow at any time. But this is not apathy.

Emotional detachment IMO is often a good thing. It allows for a certain discretion in emotional quality. It is what frees a person from being sucked into mob mentality for example. On the spiritual level it allows for the experience of human “feelings” as opposed to the blind attachment to our emotions.

The question of human emotions is I believe one of the least understood but most important questions but ironically, requires some emotional detachment to objectively consider the question experientially as impartial self knowledge. Really tough to do.

Dr. Watson

I was thinking about another model of apathy. I saw it as if we has a certain number of pain receptors. The pain receptors are either inactive or active and the number of them that are firing at once creates the intensity of the pain. When all of the pain receptors are active then that person is saturated with pain. However there are other receptors who job it is to create the sensation of the other emotions. These also have a secondary function of detecting pain. When they are busy with their secondary function then cannot perform their primary function. When all of the secondary pain receptors are activated then the person is super-saturate with pain and cannot feel anything else. I don’t know if this has a direction connection with the biology of emotions.

I have not read Fromm. Looking at what is presented here it looks like confounding variables. There must be more than just a desire for control to make a person a sadist, and more than a desire to be controlled to be a masochist. Maybe it is the incredible intensity of these desires that makes them sadistic or masochistic.

With you friend the primary direction of an initial investigation would be with whom does he connect? Who does he trust? To what, if any, communities does he belong? How does he connect with other people? Why is he disconnected from his family?

Part of boundaries is autonomy. A nurse, doctor, therapist or counselor may by around emotionally toxic people all day as their patients. However they are in connection by their choice, the still have autonomy, they could fire the patient or just get up and leave. A young child who is around a toxic parent is probably in connection not by choice. They cannot just leave.

Those who are toxic do need healing the most. There must be a willingness to heal, a desire to heal. A person must yield to the process of healing and trust those who want to help. Nobody can force another person to heal against their will. Sometimes a person has to push everyone away before they realized that intimacy is what they actually want, and then are willing to break old habits that made intimacy difficult.

I don’t know what it means to lose yourself in another. I have heard the phrase and understand it grammatically but I have never had that kind of experience.

I can find no significant difference between the terms empathy and sympathy. There is major overlap in their usage.

Sympathy comes from the Latin sympatha, from Greek sumpatheia, from sumpaths, affected by like feelings : sun-, syn- + pathos, emotion. Thus the essence of sympathy is that a person’s feelings reflect or are like those of another. FROM: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sympathy

You point out a shocking and thankfully rare occurrence. Trust was horrifically abused in the Jonestown Massacre. Being a member of a community is not ALWAYS a beneficial thing, while at the same time it often is beneficial.

I agree with you. I have said, “A group makes use of deviants to reinforce its own limits of acceptability.” And, “Deviants get treated poorly.” I disagree with the idea that mob violence is the ultimate emotional connection.

I disagree. There is a difference between global apathy and interpersonal apathy.

Emotion supression is a whole different topic.

I think that it is not emotional detachment that keeps an individual from succumbing to a mob mentality. It takes wisdom, a bit of daring and personal strength. What do you see as the different between “feelings” and emotions?

I disagree with this idea that emotional detachment ruins objectivity. I think that only our human experience, subjective as it is, gives us any hope of insight into human emotions.


I agree there is an overlap. Whether or not it is a sign of good writing is another matter. Maybe this will help:


Our natural emotions are animal and similar to higher sentient life like a dog. This is our capacity for emotion we are born with.

As a child matures and begins to develop an ego, he also acquires learned emotions in support of this ego. Envy for example is a learned emotion that seeks to justify ones egotism.

Man is not just an animal but has a spiritual side as well. In this way he is dual natured. The emotions of this spiritual or higher side of ourselves do not originate with our animal side but from a higher source. There is animal love for example which is selective as well as spiritual love which is a love for life itself.

These higher experiences I’ve read called “feelings” and I’ve adopted the term.

In the fourth century Evagrius Ponticus wrote of “Apatheia” which doesn’t really mean apathy but instead a freedom from emotions. We are normally so caught up in our emotional justifications that we close ourselves off to the experience of emotions of a higher origin or “feelings”.

The emotional detachment of apatheia can allow oneself to open to receiving from the higher in the form of “feelings”. The experience of this quality of love for example is different from anything we normally associate with the word.


I am still torn over these words sympathy and empathy. I am grateful for the link, but it has not fully resolved this question for me.

So the distinction between emotions and feelings is one of your own.

I think of emotions as an older thinking system. One developed before the more complex cognitive abilities. Yet essential because the newer system still relies on the older for decision making.

I disagree with the categorization of envy as a learned emotion. Who teaches a child how to experience envy? Envy is a spontaneous happening, just like any emotion. The habits surrounding how we cope with our envy is learned. Yet different temperaments mean that different children will struggle more or less than others with it.

I often have a concern with the modeling of spirit as a side of people as if it were in opposition with the material.

I can see what you are getting at here.

I don’t understand the vocabulary choice. I see a huge overlap between “feeling” and “emotion” that is too strong to clearly separate them.

In the fourth century Evagrius Ponticus wrote of “Apatheia” which doesn’t really mean apathy but instead a freedom from emotions. We are normally so caught up in our emotional justifications that we close ourselves off to the experience of emotions of a higher origin or “feelings”.

The emotional detachment of apatheia can allow oneself to open to receiving from the higher in the form of “feelings”. The experience of this quality of love for example is different from anything we normally associate with the word.

This reminds me of the Hindu concept of Moksha aka Liberation. A supernatural clarity that one is suppose to achieve after a sufficient meditation practice. A noble goal.


A lot of parents and educators make the same mistake IMO. Children learn by example much more than from being “taught”. Envy is obvious on TV and in real life as their parents and older children are expressing their habits. Of course the child is “taught” the merits of self acceptance but what is his perceeption and experience of human interaction surrounding him? All sorts of negative emotions such as envy. The habit is so ingrained that we believe it to be natural but we really aren’t born with envy.

Let me put this another way. Are you born with self esteem or is this emotional opinion of yourself learned? I think you would agree that this emotional opinion of ourselves is learned and can either be high, low, or neutral. Self esteem is not something we are born with but acquired through the results of our interaction with life.

We cope with low self esteem for example through coping skills designed to give us a more positive opinion of ourselves. Often these coping skills acquire their own learned emotions. A person may be fearful with low self esteem and become envious. After winning the lottery and the rump kissing that goes along with it, a person may in turn become “condescending” in the way experienced by him before. One negative emotions is just exchanged for another.

I agree with you as far as temperament but as a result of misguided egotism, emotions are created in us from what we’ve witnessed in family, peers, and society that are just exaggerations of what is natural.

They are not in opposition. They are just not connected as they should be. The purpose of re-birth in Christianity is just that connection. “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. Its really quite obvious but for some reason is not seen for what it is. People think they can do this but this connection which is emotional must be able to receive from the higher so as to give to the lower. We only do this in our imagination and rare indeed are the few that have gone beyond their imagination.

How many could have the humility and freedom from their imaginary opinions of themselves to be able to experience real feelings and at the same time have the inner freedom from the need to defend their self esteem so they don’t crumble in adverse situations and instead have the inner freedom to do what is necessary in life? Not many. Most live in the way that the spiritual and material are forever separated and in apparent opposition.

The natural emotions of the physical world and the feelings originating from higher consciousness do not have to be separate as they are now. They will always be however, as long as a person is dominated by the learned emotions related to fear and the imagination necessary to justify ourselves rather then having the courage to see ourselves for what we are and having the emotional experience of “Know Thyself”.

I also did a google search on emotional detachment and came to this site. I found Zanderman’s essay very interesting. One thing that i what like some feedback on is overcoming e.d. I relate to the comment

" The individual in an emotionally toxic environment can learn to block out all outside inputs. Then the nourishment gets rejected along with the toxins. The person is closed off from everything."

I wouldn’t say that i am closed off from everything but more than most. How do i know if that’s just my personality or habits from a traumatic childhood? I have a great husband who has helped me a lot but as a mother sometimes i feel i’m just not connecting with my children but i don’t know what to do about it. Any suggestions?