Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Importance of Physical Contact & Attachment

I started reading a book about attachment theories and came across this quote about child-rearing by behaviorist John B. Watson in a book he published in 1928:

“Treat them as though they were young adults.  Dress them, bathe them with care and circumspection.  Let your behavior always be objective and kindly firm.  Never hug and kiss them, never let them sit on your lap.  If you must, kiss them once on the forehead when they say goodnight.  Shake hands with them in the morning.  Give them a pat on the head if they have made an extraordinary good job of a difficult task.”

A couple of thoughts:

1)      If I had my child taken away from me and sent to live with strangers (as in the case with foster care) OR if I were to voluntarily place my child with a family (adoption) I would sure as heck make sure that NURTURING were as important to that family as making sure my child was fed and clean and safe.

2)      In the past, child welfare professionals were afraid of children becoming too attached to their caregivers so they would purposely move the children from one foster home to another to prevent attachment. (I’m shaking my head at the thought that so much more disruption and change and trauma could possibly be in the best interest to a child).

3)     My cousin once visited an orphanage in a foreign country and she was warned beforehand “Don’t pick up the babies- they are not used to getting so much attention and it will just cause them to cry more after you put them down.”   Truly Heartbreaking.

4)      Trying to “toughen up” children reminded me of this quote by child development researcher L.R. Knost which I’ve came across recently:
5)      Jack is becoming more attached to me and at the end of the last couple of visits he's had with his parents as soon as he sees me he leaves his mom’s side and reaches out his little arms to me or toddles over to me in a hurry with a smile on his face.  This causes his mom to be jealous (she’ll either say something out loud or it is apparent in her body language) which makes for an awkward and tricky situation. Doubtless I’d probably feel the same way if I were in her shoes. 

I guess the best perspective for any member of the “foster-care triad” to have is “Too much love and too many secure attachments are better than a lack of love or attachment.”  Instead of looking at things as a competition where there’s only one victor, I think it’s much more beneficial to everyone involved- (foster child, bio parent, foster parent) to recognize that just because a child loves one “mother” or caregiver it doesn’t mean that he loves the other mother or caregiver any less.  I’m sure people with children in very open adoptions or blended families have reached the same conclusion through their experiences.

1 comment:

  1. It took awhile to get there, but I'm so proud of the relationship I have with my ex-husband and his wife in raising our daughter. I truly appreciate the things she is able to provide our little girl with like creativity and a love for crafting and girly things like painting toenails and playing with hair. I'm just not into that very much and my daughter SO IS. It's great to have as many people to love her and provide her with exposure to things she enjoys