Parent Child Bonding


Parent Child Bonding Essay, Research Paper

Thesis: Bonding does not refer to mutual affection between a baby and an adult,

but to the phenomenon whereby adults become committed by a one-way flow of

concern and affection to children for whom they have cared during the first

months and years of life. I. The importance of bonding or attachment in an

individual’s life. A. Friend acquaintances B. A mother-child attachment 1. The

power and importance of such a bond 2. How it paves the way for future

attachments II. The elements that are important to a mother-child bond. A. Touch

B. Eye-to-Eye contact, voice and entertainment C. Odor among other things III.

Bonding as it relates to breastfeeding A. The importance of breastfeeding to the

bond development IV. Bonding and the hyperactive child A. The impact of bonding

on hyperactivity B. Dealing with hyperactivity 1. Its believed origin V. Bonding

and Divorce The problem associated with divorce as it relates to Children and

the bond between both parents In each person’s life much of the joy and sorrow

revolves around attachments or affectionate relationships — making them,

breaking them, preparing for them, and adjusting to their loss by death. Among

all of these bonds as a special bond — the type a mother or father forms with

his or her newborn infant. Bonding does not refer to mutual affection between a

baby and an adult, but to the phenomenon whereby adults become committed by a

one-way flow of concern and affection to children for whom they have cared

during the first months and years of life. According to J. Robertson in his book

A Baby in the Family: Loving and Being loved, individuals may have from three

hundred to four hundred acquaintances in there lifetimes, but at any one time

there are only a small number of persons to whom they are closely attached. He

explains that much of the richness and beauty of life is derived from these

close relationships which each person has with a small number of individuals –

mother, father, brother, sister, husband, wife, son, daughter, and a small cadre

of close friends (Robertson 1). A mothers love is a crude offering, and

according to Kennell and Klaus. In heir book Parent-Infant Bonding, there is a

possessiveness in it, there’s appetite in it. There is also a "Drat the

Kid" element in it, there’s generosity in it, there’s power in it, as well

as humility. However sentimentality is outside of it altogether and is repugnant

to mothers (Kennell and Klaus 1). Some argue that attachment is one qualitative

feature of the emotional tie to the partner. The operationalization of the

construct (attachment) to determine the presence or absence has to be done by

some measure of the interaction between partners, and Joe Mercer in Mothers’

Responses to their infants with defects says: The mothers either respond to her

infants cries with affectionate behaviors and evokes the infants

interacting to suggest the infant is a central part of her life, or she does.

The infant either shows preferential responses to the mother, responds to her

verbal and tactile stimulation, or does not. (Mercer 17). He further goes on to

explain that it is easier for the infant to say the tie to the mother is absent,

but the psychological complexity of adults make it far more difficult to say a

mother has no bond to her infant (Mercer 19). Attachment is crucial to the

survival and development of the infant. Kenneth and Klaus points out that the

parents bond to their child may be the strongest of all human ties (Kennell and

Klaus 3). This relationship has two unique characteristics. First, before birth

one individual infant gestates within a part of the mother body and second,

after birth she ensures his survival while he is utterly dependent on her and

until he becomes a separate individual. According to Mercer, the power of this

attachment is so great that it enables the mother and father to make the unusual

sacrifices necessary for the care of their infant. Day after day, night after

night; changing diapers, attending to cries, protecting the child from danger,

and giving feed in the middle of the night despite their desperate need to sleep

(Mercer 22). It is important to note that this original parent-infant tie is the

major source for all of the infants subsequent attachment and is the

formative relationship in the course of which the child develops a sense of

himself. Throughout his lifetime the strength and character of this attachment

will influence the quality of all future ties to other individuals. The question

is asked, "What is the normal process by which a father and mother become

attached to a healthy infant?" Well, since the human infant is wholly

dependent on his mother or caregiver to meet all his physical and emotional

needs the strength and durability of the attachment may well determine whether

or not he will survive and develop optimally. Experimental data suggest that the

past experiences of the mother are a major determinant in molding her

care-giving role. Children use adults, especially loved and powerful adults, as

models for their own behavior. Children development literature states that the

powerful process of imitation or modeling socially inclines children. Kennell

and Klaus explain that unless adults consciously and painstakingly reexamine

these learned behaviors, they will unconsciously repeat them when they become

parents (Kennell and Klaus 11). Thus the way a woman was raised, which includes

the practices of her culture and the individual idiosyncrasies of her own

mother’s child raising practices greatly influences her behavior toward her won

infant. Bob Brazelton in The Early Mother-Infant Adjustment says that, "It

may seem to many that attachment to a small baby will come naturally and to make

too much of it could be a mistake… but there are many, many women who have a

difficult time making this adjustment…(Brazelton 10). He points out that we

must understand the ingredients of attachment in order to help, because each

mother-child dyad is unique and has individual needs of it’s own (Brazelton 12).

Mercers says that the developing parent attachment is evidenced during pregnancy

as both parents fondly pat and rub the fetus through the thinning abdominal wall

(Mercer 31). It might be argued that the length of breastfeeding is not a valid

assessment of the strength of bond between mother and infant since it is culture

bound. According to Violet Oaklander in Windows to our Children, too many

variables influence a woman’s decision to continue breastfeeding to make it a

valid assessment of bonding. She explains that a woman who discontinues

breastfeeding to return to work four weeks after delivery can be just as bonded

as a breastfeeding mother who takes a nine-month maternity leave. Similarly, she

explains, the initial decision to breastfeed must be continuously used in the

assessment of bonding (Oaklander 102). A mother’s decision to breastfeed may be

an indication of her willingness to give of herself to her infant, which is

characteristic of bonding. However a mother who decides to bottle feed in order

to give her infant the best "American start" is giving of herself in

an equally healthy, but different way. The parent-infant (father as well as

mother) relationship is a continuing process of adaptation to one another’s

needs, and parents should be aware that all is not lost if early contact is not

possible. However, it should emphasized that it should be the mother’s choice to

determine how much time she spends with her infant in the hospital. "When

it is possible for parents to be together with their babies, in privacy, for the

first hour, and throughout the hospital stay, the most beneficial and supportive

environment for the beginning of the bonding process is established", (Kennell

and Klaus 57). According to Oaklander, "A most important behavioral system

that serves to bind mother and infant together is the mothers interest in

touching her baby" (Oaklander 151). Eye-to-Eye contact serves the purpose

of giving a real identity or personification to the baby, as well as getting a

rewarding feedback of the mother (Oaklander 45). The mother’s voice is another

important element as well as entertainment. Although the infant moves in rhythm

to his mother’s voice and thus may be driven to be affected by her. On the other

hand, the infant’s movements according to Oaklander, may reward the mother and

stimulate her to continue (Oaklander 136). Another important element is odor.

Rolland Macfarlene in The Relationship Between Mother ad Neonate, found that by

the 5th day of life, breastfeeding infants can discriminate their mother own

breast pad from the breast pads from that of other mothers with significant

reliability (Macfarlene 63). Brazelton commenting on the bonding process says:

The complexity of available systems for the mother to use in making the initial

attachment to the baby are obviously a kind of fail-safe system for assuring the

newborn of a caring environment. We should be aware of the richness of these and

utilize as many as we can as we try to lock a new mother into her baby’s

uniqueness (Brazelton 79). According to Claire Berman in her book Adult Children

of Divorce Speaks out, parents need to understand that the bonding which will

take place in the earlier stages of the infants life is very important in

determining the overall type of individual that child will grow up to be (Berman

16). Mark A. Stewart in Raising a Hyperactive Child, says: …There are some

homes in which children are raised so permissively or so haphazardly that they

are never taught how to listen to someone else. Neither are they taught how to

stick to a task, or how to control their impulsive behavior because there never

was a great bond created between the child and parents…(Stewart 23). Stewart

continues by pointing out that these children will, of course be at a

disadvantage when they venture outside the home, to school or to other

children’s home or in other situations where they are injected to exert some

control over their behavior (Stewart 23). Stewart also stresses the importance

of parents teaching their children how to socialize and behave in public. He

says, "if there is a bond between the parents and child there will never be

a problem when it comes to one parent getting the child to do whats

right" (Stewart 24). If a child has been brought up in a very unstructured

environment without a reliable pattern to depend on, in a chaotic home

atmosphere, he will tend to exhibit some of the traits of hyperactivity. As

stated by Stewart there is a widespread but mistaken assumption that behavior

determined by inheritance, or by damage to the brain cannot be influences. He

believes that a mother’s love is one of the most powerful of all influences when

it comes to what the child will be in the future (Stewart 30). In dealing with

the problem of disobedience in the child, Stewart goes on to say: The first and

most important step in management is, that whatever a mother says, always must

be done. For this reason, do not require too much; and on no account

allow your child to do at one time, what you have forbidden him to do at another

(Stewart 127). Claire Berman explains that it is not only the mother-child

bonding that is important, but also the father-mother-child that really counts.

She explains that parents need to understand that their bonding should not be

dissolve after 2,3,5 or even 10 years, it is something that should last a

lifetime and be taken into consideration at every bend along the long and dread

pathway of life (Berman 21). According to Susan Meyers in her book Who Will Take

the Children? makes it clear that no one factor can be held responsible for

shaping the kind of person one becomes or the ways in which an individual tends

to look at things (Meyers 30). She further explains that many elements impact

upon people’s lives, from the genes we inherit to the families we are born into

and the communities in which the child grows up (Meyers 31). As pointed out by

Berman, "Divorce is one of the worst things that can happen between parents

during the early years of a childs life, not only can divorce break all

the bonds which were previously established, but is something that can leave the

children with lots of baggage."(Meyers 30) Berman later points out that

when children learn that a vow or bond can be broken (and divorce writes the end

to the marital vow), they face life with uncertainty. When they do not receive

the nurturing thats needed, they are likely to enter into healthy

relationships (Berman 35). Berman states the case of a thirty-four-year-old

woman whose parents divorced when she was thirteen. The woman asks, "when

your parents betray you and break the bond between them and their child, then

who do you trust?" Is it a rhetorical question? She goes on to explain,

"for years I had the feeling that everyone was out to get me. It took me a

long time to trust anyone." (Berman 36) Maybe now people (parents) will

come to realize that bonding does not only refer to mutual affection between a

baby and an adult. But it is the phenomenon whereby adults become committed by a

one-way flow of concern and affection for whom they have cared during the first

months and years of life.

Berman, Claire. Adult Children of Divorce Speak Out. New York: Simon and

Schuster, 1991. Brazelton, Bob. The Early Mother-Infant Adjustment. Amsterdam:

Elsevier Publishing Co. 1973. Kennell, John and Marshall Klaus. Parent-Infant

Bonding. Missouri: The C.V. Mosby Company, 1976. Macfarlene, Rolland. The

Relationship between Mother & Neonate. New York: Oxford University Press,

1978. Mercer, Joe. Mother’s Response to Their Infants with Defects. New York:

Charles B. Slack Inc., 1974. Meyers, Susan. Who Will Take the Children?

Indianapolis/New – York: Bobbe-Mervil, 1983. Oaklander, Violet. Windows to our

Children. Utah: Real People- Press, 1978. Robertson, J. A Baby in the Family:

Loving and being loved. London: Penguin Books, Ltd., 1982. Stewart, Mark A.

Raising a Hyperactive Child. London: Harper and Row Publishers, 1973.

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