Four Central Goals
My book has four central goals:
1. To impart an understanding of basic attachment theory. Attachment theory explains how we become secure, first as children and later as adults. The English psychiatrist, John Bowlby, was one of the first authorities to observe and describe the significance of early bonding between infants and their mothers and to develop attachment theory to explain behavior. The theory explains that the infant feels most secure when it is in close proximity to the person who cares for him or her. This "attachment" between the newborn infant and the caregiver begins to form very early in the infant's life, as he or she is nurtured during the hundreds of interactions necessary for survival. Slowly, the infant learns that a particular caregiver provides a predictable, safe, and comfortable world for the infant. An attachment begins to form and grow with this caregiver who is constantly available to the baby. It is with and because of this person that the very young child develops a secure base from which he or she feels free to explore their world.
I explain how stranger anxiety and separation anxiety is a normal part of the infant's development, how children become "securely attached," "anxiously attached," or "detached." Furthermore, my book discusses how infants and toddlers create "working models," which are expectations of how they will be treated in the future. The reaction of children to loss and separation are also
2. To show the advantages-to both the child and the family-of parental involvement in the child rearing process throughout the childhood years. Parents can play a very important part in the cognitive, emotional, and social development of their children. While substitute caregivers may offer adequate care, motivated parents will usually be able to provide a far richer and more nurturing social and intellectual environment for their children. Such parental involvement is of great value in the early preverbal years as well as the later years of childhood. Generally, the parent will be more willing and enthusiastic in protecting, holding, cuddling, comforting, feeding, playing with, stimulating, and communicating with their infant and toddler. And, as the child grows and matures, both in the preschool and school years, parents are also generally better able to stimulate, educate, and protect the child and enrich his or her life. Parents play an important role in language development, in discipline, in communicating moral and social values, in providing enriched play environments, and in the creation of family rituals and traditions for the family.
3. To explain how "caregiver roulette," or frequently changing caregivers for infants and toddlers, can cause profound emotional damage as bonds and attachments are disrupted and how these events can produce long-range and even lifetime problems. Researchers have confirmed that many children who experience discontinuity of early primary caregivers, and who therefore do not develop secure attachments, are at a much increased risk for the development of problems that increasingly plague our society.
inability to learn a moral code and obey our laws;
inability to successfully learn from teachers and traverse our educational system;
inability to resist the temptations of drugs, alcohol, and substance abuse;
inability to form and sustain intimate relations and consequent problems in getting and staying married;
increased susceptibility to serious mental illness such as depression.
4. To provide solutions and practical approaches for all families in providing continuity of care for young children. I explain how all parents can take steps to provide continuity of child care. These suggestions cover single parents as well as parents in "nuclear" families. They cover families with minimal incomes as well as families with ample incomes and assets.
a description of the many different methods by which parents with varying incomes can find substitute care-givers who could provide the needed continuity and thus help to avoid disruptions caused by changing caregivers;
alternative arrangements that will allow parents themselves to more fully participate in the childrearing process. For those parents whose finances are tight, but who nevertheless wish to care for their own children, suggestions are made that will help parents to achieve these goals utilizing their creativity and motivation.