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Infant Attachment To Caregivers Rather Than Mothers Social Work Essay

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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016

Experience of early childhood attachment is at the base of healthy child development and works as the framework for the intimate relationship with others. The caregiver-child attachment relationship shapes though early pattern of interaction between the caregiver and child. The outcomes of infant attachment considered to be long-term and influences generations of families. According to Bowlby who developed theory of infant-caregiver attachment, attachment security characterizes the confidents of infant in his or her caregiver, and can be observed through how they contact with the caregiver and how they use of the caregiver as a secure base to explore their envrionment. Attachment theory, therefore, has been regarded as the major framework for the research of caregiver-child relationships in infancy, and it also may provide a useful approach for understanding attachment development between other caregivers and infants than mother. A vast body of research from this perspective indicates that attachment security is an index of parent-child relationship quality that develops largely as a function of parenting behavior. Nonetheless, in spite of a number of researches on mother-child attachment has conducted, we still are unfamiliar with attachment relationships between other caregivers such as a father and adoptive parents. Because of the socioeconomic changes that have occurred in the United States during the past three decades, more mothers, with infants, work outside the home and, in many cases, new roles for fathers within the home increased, and many couples with a variety of reasons decided to adopt children also increased. Therefore, this paper explores whether an infant can develop secure attachment to a caregiver other than their primary caregiver, usually mother, and then how father and foster mother-infant attachment relationship different from ordinary infant-mother relationship.

Importantly, sensitivity has been considered as a key predictor for secure caregiver-infant attachment. Despite the fact that the relatively few researches studying the attachment relationship with fathers, some studies on father-child attachment suggests that fathers can give sensitive care, an important factor for developing secure attachment, for their children as much as mothers can; therefore, the level of attachment between father and child seems to be similar to that usually found with mothers (Brown, McBride, Shin & Bost, 2007). Moreover, Brown et al. (2007) found that when fathers employed in positive parenting behaviors, father involvement time does not seem to impact on father-child attachment security. That is, children tended to form quite secure attachment relationships despite the fact that whether their fathers were highly involved. When fathers, on the other hand, employed less sensitive parenting, increased father involvement was related to an insecure father-child attachment. Therefore, father-child attachment is dependent upon quality of fathers’ parenting, and increased involvement is better for building attachment only when it accompanied by positive parenting. In addition, another research found that fathers who valued the parental role were more likely to have securely attached infants, but this association was marled only when quality of marriage was high, conceivably because these fathers are more likely to receive helping hand from their partner (Wong, Mangelsdorf, Brown, Neff & Schoppe-Sullivan, 2009). Yet interestingly, fathers who valuing the paternal caregiving role might promote secure attachment of temperamentally difficult infants, for such fathers might be more likely to support them with daily caregiving activities and be more adjusted to their infants’ emotional needs as well as their other demands. Accordingly, temperamentally difficult infants would be more likely to build secure attachment to fathers in this circumstance.

Even though all adopted children go through a stressful separation from their primary attached figures and are replaced with new attachment figures in the adoptive family, they are also able to develop and become attached to their fostering families. Jeffer and Rosenboom (1997) examined 80 mothers and their infant from all over the world, adopted between at age of 6 month and 8 month olds, in the Strange Situation when infants were 12 and 18 months to evaluate the infant-mother attachment relationship. According to their study, they found more secure infant-mother attachment than insecure attachment relationship as normally expected. The actual proportion of secure attachment was approximately 74%, 46 of 58 infants, at 12 months and 75% at 18 months, so secure attachments observed this research seemed to be stable over time (Juffer & Rosenboom, 1997). Another study of attachment between fostering parents and infant also demonstrated that mother-infant attachment quality in middle-class adoptive families is similar to the result found in families with only biological children; however, interracial adoption were more likely to have insecure attachment between mother and infant(Singer, 1985). This might be explained by which families who adopt children of a different race than themselves are less likely to receive hearty support from extended family, friends, and neighbors than are families who adopt children of the same race. Higher rates of insecure attachment also have found among infants who were placed to fostering families after spending at least 8 months in a Romanian orphanage. Infants who adopted at an earlier age, by contrast, do not appear to have an elevated rate of insecure attachment to their adoptive parent (Chisholm, 1998). From these results, although adopted age of infants seems to be a critical factor whether they develop secure or insecure attachment to fostering patents, adopted infants appear to be capable of adapting their new parents as a secure base, and in turn, adoptive parents appear to be sensitive enough so that they can meet the needs of their adopted baby and become a lighthouse as well.

Since infants can develop securely attached relationship to other caregivers, the long term effects such as resiliency to new environments and having positive behaviors and expectances are assumed to be similar to which mother-infant relationship likely to have. Even though the overall comparison of attachment in adoptive and non-adoptive families was reasonably similar, the outcome sometimes do not exclude the potential importance of insecure or disrupted post-infancy family relationships as a basis for the adjustment problems of the adoptee. The study noted that as school-age children begin to understand the implications of adoption, including the reality of being relinquished by biological parents, therefore, they often feel confused, uncertain, and insecure regarding their current adoptive family relationship (Singer, 1985). Nonetheless, it seems that the higher occurrence of troubles reported later in life in adoptive families cannot be explained only by early attachment problems because early secure attachment counteracts to these problems and buffers the negative emotion to some degree.

In conclusion, infants can develop secure attachment not only to their mothers but also other caregivers, including fathers and adoptive parents. It seems that infants can become attached to any caregivers, provided that those caregivers interact with them on a regular basis, provide physical and emotional care, and are emotionally invested in the child. Sensitivity plays an important role in development of secure attachment between caregiver and infant; on the other hand, the amount of time parents and children spend together is much less than what they do with that time. The similar positive outcome of secure attachment can be expected to the attachment relationship among father- and adoptive parents-infant. Children are born prepared to form relationships with those who care for them, and those early experiences influence the relationships that they develop within the family and in the greater world outside of the home. Consequently, relationships affect children’s healthy development, and children’s development, in turn, transforms their later fine relationship.


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