Parental Attachment and its Impact on Development
Parental Attachment and its Impact on Development- a Cultural Perspective
The attachment between a child and the parent has a lot of effects on the emotional, cognitive and social development of a child. Depending on their culture, parents can use several attachment practices at their disposal. Although the attachment between parents and their children at early ages is usually one dimensional, this may change as the children grow. This change is brought about by cultural changes in the circumstances that instigate the attachment. The attachment between parents and their children has a direct effect on a child from the moment they are born until their death. Parental attachment shapes all the aspects of a childs life including their self image, well being and how they view then world around them (Laible & Deborah et al, 2009). Parental attachment includes attachment between the child and any other person who acts as the care giver of the child. Other than their parents, children also grow fond of adults who take care of them resulting in a bond that shapes who they become in future. Strong parental attachment gives children strong sense of security in what they want to become in future compared to those with no parental attachment. According to psychologists, the bond between parents and their children is believed to start as early as when the child is eight months old.
As stated earlier, a child can also develop a very strong bond with a caregiver provided the caregiver shows the child love and tenderness. When this happens, the child develops a model of him/herself as valuable and deserving of love from those around him (Boushel, 2009). To the contrary, if parents and caregivers fail to show a child love and be sensitive to their feelings, the child looses self esteem and becomes insecure. The detachment can manifests itself through feelings of loneliness and can have very negative effects on the overall health of the child. As stated earlier, culture has a great effect on how attached parents are to their children. For example, parental attachment in south Latin America is customary and family members are supposed to sleep together with infants as an indication of togetherness and security in the family.
The choices made by parents concerning child development are mostly influenced by the role of the parents as well as their cultural values and beliefs. As the children grow, cultural differences may arise regarding the goals that parents, communities and families have for the childs upbringing. Such cultural differences inform the expectations at each stage of the childs development. In addition, cultural differences may at times inform the behaviors and attitudes of caregivers therefore influencing how they relate and bring up their children (Park, 2009). The kind of attachment behavior showed by a child may at times be dictated by what is considered as acceptable within that community. Notwithstanding a strong instinctive constituent to attachment relationships, many kids learn to behave in a manner that gets them what they want. These and other practices have been there for generations mainly because they produce a positive attachment between kids and their parents and also because they react to the needs of the children.
Over the years, research has time and again shown that there is a positive relationship between parental attachment and social capability in children when they grow up. This means that children who view their parental attachment as high, they grow seeing themselves as highly competent socially. This means that they have high self esteem among the children and this makes them believe that they can achieve anything that they set their minds on. More research has also shown that children with superior parental connection have better social skills and associate well with their peers. According to Azam, et al (2011) family systems and socialization processes in Pakistan are different from other countries and this affects children in many ways. According to a study carried out to compare parental attachment among U.S, Indian and Puerto Rican adolescents, Indian and American adolescents showed more attachment to their parents compared to those from Puerto Rico. Due to the caste system practiced in India, adolescents from their showed more attachments and royalty to their fathers compared to their mothers. Although developing attachment to caregivers is a survival strategy by kids, the response and tenderness of the caregivers is mainly dictated by the values of the community in which the care giver lives (Bowlby, 1969).
Many American-Koreans rear their children according to the traditional Korean practices which are totally different from those practiced by Americans. When these Korean children are raised in America, there arises a conflict since the children feel neglected and their parents feel out of control. According to a research carried out in among American Koreans, many Korean adolescents felt that their parents were not sensitive to their feelings and their parenting styles were dictatorial. Consequently, many Korean children were found to exhibit higher rates of depression, difficulties socializing and low levels of self esteem. These negative traits among the Korean children and adolescents can be attributed to lack of parental attachment since their early days (Boushel, 2009).
According to the attachment theory, attachment is inborn in all human beings and is never taught in schools or anywhere. It occurs to all people regardless of their skin color or racial background. In course of their lives, human beings develop different kinds of bonds with one another but the most important and basic is the one between a mother and her baby. Attachments are all about closeness and their impact can last for a lifetime beginning from birth to death. The bond between a child and a parent or caregiver has been found to be biological. This bond between a parent or caregiver and an infant is a survival tactic by the infant as it seeks closeness with a person who will take care of it. Other than being physical, the bond between an infant and a parent is also emotional. Closeness to parents or caregivers makes a child feels secure therefore enhancing its internal development (Park, 2009). Any disruption to such a bonding can be very damaging to the child resulting in emotional distress. Its worthy noting that children do not get attached to all people the same way but rather, they sometimes bond with people selectively. More to this, the exhibitions of attachment behaviors among children are dictated by the level of attachment. Such level of attachment between parents and infant is determined by how the parent is responsive to the feelings and needs of the infant. The more the parent is responsive, the stronger bond he/she will form with the infant and vice versa.
There are many aspects of parenting like behaviors, goals, beliefs and even values. All these aspects can influence or be influenced by certain behaviors of an infant like temperament as well as the social systems in which the children are brought up. Psychological behaviors of parents, physical and social environments as well as parenting customs also affect parenting. Parenting styles vary across cultures mainly due to cultural beliefs about child rearing and development (Boushel, 2009). Such beliefs may include expectations about emotional, social and cognitive development of children. These expectations are obtained from the cultural experiences of the parents or the community at large and they show child rearing beliefs embraced in the society in which the infant is being brought up. Cultural based beliefs concerning childrearing are believed to mould childrearing practices in the community as well as the environment in which the child is brought up. Examples of childrearing practices that are shaped by cultural beliefs are the social and physical environment under which the child grows. Such environments include gender expectations, number of people in a family and the child welfare arrangements made by parents. Cultural norms also dictate certain basic care practices, like who the child shares a bed with, how much time parents spend with their children and how often parents have a physical contact with their babies.
Culture has also been found to influence the qualities that parents want their children to have in the future. Many qualities or attributes that parents wish for their children are mostly a reflection of the cultural environment under which the parents grew up. All parents bring up their children in line with the cultural expectations of the community there are associated with (Chao, 1995). There exists a relationship between childrearing practices and the characteristic of the society in which the child is brought up. Many western societies are individualistic and are characterized by freedom and independence and they generally advocate for autonomy. In such societies, children are taught to be independent and show creativity from their tender ages. They are also taught that their interests come before anything else including the community. In these societies, the focus is mainly on the individual and one has very little community responsibility. The second type of society is the collective or traditional society. In this kind of society, ones responsibility to the community comes before anything else and children are taught to view problems as a community and are taught their alliance to family and community at a very early age.
A study carried out by Chao (1995) compared parenting practices by Anglo-American parents with those of Chinese-American parents. According to this research, there exists a very big difference in beliefs about helping a child build their self esteem. Over 50% of Anglo-American parents who took part in this study said that building a childs self esteem was a key component of their child rearing goals compared to only 8% of Chinese-American parents. The other aspect of childrearing that varies across cultures is honest exhibition of emotions. In many western cultures, individualism is the order of the day and children are taught to express their emotions without shying off. However, things are different in collective societies since children are taught to control their emotions.
A Strong connection between a mother and an infant is an indication of positive psycho-social development in latter years. However, these developments can later be altered by factors like cultural changes, personal traits of the child as well the prevailing psycho-social circumstances (Boushel, 2009). As stated earlier, children with strong attachment to their parents tend to be more secure. Such children have been found to be good in making and maintaining friends as well being socially competent. They also show more compassion and empathy to others since they are able to understand emotional signs. To the contrary, children with weak parental attachments have very low self esteem and mostly and lack confident. Such children achieve very little in life and are mostly dependant on others since they dont believe they can achieve anything. Children with weak or no parental attachment are mostly socially incompetent, violent and aggressive towards their friends.
Azam, A.; Hanif, R. (2011).European Journal of Developmental Psychology Impact of Marital Conflict on Parental Attachment and Social Competence of Adolescence. p. 157-170.
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