Healthy Attachment and Parent/Child Relationship
Children are believed to have closer relationships with their care-givers, and this affects the way they interact as they grow up in the future. Archer and Burnell (2003) explain that healthy connections between a child and parent and/or care-givers allow children to be successfully dependable and productive adults. The quality of attachment between parents and their offspring is a critical aspect of the well-being of children. Common patterns and characterizations of attachment are either secure or not, based on whether they are healthy for the child. Parents aim to develop and promote secure attachments through their behaviors and responses towards their children (Sweet & Appelbaum, 2004).
The research study aim is to examine the link between attachment relationships formed during infancy and the effects of these attachments on the well-being of the child.
General Question1: What are the effects of the parent–child attachment established during infancy?
Subsidiary questions are:
- Does the parent–child relationship established during infancy have a significant effect on the well-being of the child?
- In what ways does a parent–child relationship established during infancy affect the well-being of the child?
General Question2: How does the attachment between a child and his or her parents influence the child’s life outcomes?
Subsidiary questions are:
a. Does the relationship between a parent and his or her infant have a significant effect on the child’s life outcomes later in life?
b. How does the relationship between a parent and his or her infant influence the child’s life outcomes later in life?
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this qualitative study is to examine the link between attachment relationships formed during infancy and the effects of these attachments on the well-being of the child.
Significance of the Study
Researchers have argued that parents have a limited understanding of parent–child attachment theory (Brook et al., 2012; Contreras & Kerns, 2007). This finding will act as the foundation of research as it transitions from the unknown and works toward making it known.
Since there is minimal information regarding the extent to which parental care affects the child and the associated effects on their well-being, such identification as regards to child’s development as well as in their adult life will provide the research with the opportunity to explore this phenomenon through the utilization of research methods, samples, and related literature, thereby being the most vital aspect of the research.
The findings will help other studies in the field by adding value to the population, community, and society. By addressing the subject under study, the findings will assist minimize or prevent any childhood psychosocial challenges, such as the establishment of poor relationships, a lack of trust, inadequate confidence and courage, and an inability to take risks and manage conflict. Lastly, the findings of this study will enable parents to promote their children’s well-being.
John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth are responsible for the attachment theory and they have tried to show the benefits associated with a child-parent attachment in different stages of life. According to the Attachment Theory, bonding occurs between a child and its carer, and for a strong attachment to exist, an on-going loving care from the carer, particularly the mother or ‘eternal mother substitute’ should exist (Bowlby, 1947). He argues that in the absence of such love, the chance of bonding between the child and carer is lost, and the child has a high probability of becoming a delinquent. Although the theory concentrates on the maternal deprivation, Bowlby’s major focus was on the first year of life, which he referred to as the ‘critical period’. Bowlby’s (1947) explains that at this stage, he believed that the behaviour of a child was based on two prepositions. These predispositions are ‘proximity-promoting behaviours’, and exploration, away from the mother. In regard to the first predisposition, the mother to a child was a secure base, and it this kind of relationship which shaped the child’s future. Bowlby (1947) notes that the relationship between a child and mother resulted to ‘internal working models’ whereby the mother becomes the foundation of later relationships. He believed that during this stage of development, a mother should always be at home taking care of the child, for these positive relationships to grow. He further adds that day care was dangerous (Bowlby, 1947). As such, a child-parent attachment begins at infancy and continues to adulthood of not interrupted (Anderson, 2009).
Evidence exists to support Bowlby’s attachment theory. For example, in his study at the time, Goldfarb (1947) and Goldfarb (1945) compared children who had experienced continuous foster care with those who were raised up in institutions. The research established that children under motherly care in comparison to those in institutions were less likely to suffer social, intellectual, and emotional difficulties. Equally, children raised up in hospital presented distress and minimal affection towards their parents after they reunited (Goldfarb, 1943).This could have been as a result of detachment between a child and their mother.
Bowlby’s (1947) study into adolescent delinquency is an indication of childhood maternal deprivation as a recurring factor. Children who grow up without any maternal attachment are more fearful and unwilling to learn from others or seek out new experiences unlike their counterparts who grew up under maternal care. Children with maternal love and care are more adventurous and willing to learn from new things via experiences. Bowlby’s (1947) contends that provided that the role of a caregiver is evident in a child’s growth and development, that child’s needs are realized. It is worth noting that a parent’s role is to be offer constant security and support during the formative years according to Bowlby’s (1947) attachment theory. This role is later made available because the child needs periodic assistance during their expeditions into the world outside.
Mary Ainsworth shares the theory of attachment in which she believes that strong attachment is essential for a child’s growth and development. Ainsworth expanded on Bowlby’s research with her series of “strange situation” experiments (Ainsworth, 2009; Ainsworth, 1973; Ainsworth, 1991). According to the strange situation theory, children when exposed to usual and new environments are exposed to: secure attachment, ambivalent-insecure attachment, and avoidant-insecure attachment (Brittany, 2010). This is based on a study where children were exposed to both caregivers and strangers at different times.
The themes present in this study include:
- Theme 1. Healthy parent–child attachments provide children with a secure foundation upon which to develop their cognitive and psychosocial states (Chen et al., 2012).
- Theme 2. When parents promote healthy attachment with their children, they eliminate feelings of uncertainty and fear in their children (Brook et al., 2012).
- Theme 3. The innate, motivating drives and forces of healthy parent–child attachment are influenced by parents’ diverse temperaments. They are also influenced by their views and tendencies toward their roles in their children’s psychosocial well-being (Stelter & Halberstadt, 2011).
The Grounded Theory design is the most appropriate design for this research due to numerous factors. The method works by testing theoretical ideas in the context of real world situations. In this case, this research aims to carry out an in-depth study of the attachment phenomenon by focusing on how it influences the behavior of individuals. Most of the attachment related theories try to explain the effects of connectedness but leave specific gaps, such as the degree of its impact. Moreover, this research is important and advantageous in the sense that it focuses on a specific area and systematically attempts to exploit the degree to which the relationship between caregivers and infants influences the individuals’ character later in life.
Sample and Sampling
This study will use adult participants between the ages of 25 and 50 years who are currently raising children to be interviewed to determine their views on parent–child attachment and its impact on children when they are adults. This age requirement also ensures that the participants selected for the study will possess adequate information about the outcomes in their lives and the levels of success they have achieved (Ott & Longnecker, 2010). This will include a sample of 100 volunteers mostly selected from within the United States and Lebanon. This group of individuals will be selected from those regions because they represent an important sample of parenting styles and behaviors for the purposes of this research study. A close examination of the study will help in determining the significance of research by providing important data for analysis. .
This research will be based on the qualitative nature of information collected from primary sources. In this regard, the researcher will use survey questionnaires to collect information from the participants. The focus of the research questionnaire will be to establish the experiences of the respondents with regard to their parent–child relationships as well as on how these connections have affected their development and socialization processes. The survey questionnaire will be designed with open-ended questions to enable the researcher to collect in-depth information about the subject under study. These types of questionnaires are justified because questionnaires with open-ended questions are more reliable and can be easily validated compared to closed-ended questions (Creswell, 2003). The researcher will also formulate the key items to measure, as guided by the research objective.
The research items will focus on age, gender, knowledge of parent–child attachment, the impact of the parent–child attachment, and factors affecting healthy parent–child relationships. These factors will be strictly formulated using content analysis techniques and measures
An approval for the study will be sought from the institutional health research ethics board. After the objectives of the survey are explained, a written consent will then be got from the patients and nurses. Anonymity, confidentiality and privacy will be ensured throughout the study. The participants will volunteer and no duress or coercion will be used.
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