February 19, 2013—Some infants raised in poverty exhibit physical traits that make them more vulnerable to poor caregiving, according to new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. The combination of physiological vulnerability and poor caregiving may lead these children to show increased problem behaviors later in childhood.
For infants growing up in poverty, the ability to adapt and regulate—both biologically and behaviorally—in response to various environmental pressures seems to be critical for successful development.
Conradt and colleagues argue that this research may have important implications for efforts to identify the children who are most vulnerable to developing problem behavior given their biological and environmental risk factors early in life.
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Whatever parenting approach you choose, someone in your circle will have a strong opinion about why it is wrong. There is only one right way, our closest advisers often insist, and that way is “their” way.
Lately, however, one approach to parenting has become an especially heated battleground. Attachment parenting—usually associated with co-sleeping, baby-“wearing” and prolonged breast-feeding—is heard increasingly often these days. Yet it isn’t always well understood, even by those who support it. It appears that the media’s parenting wars are causing many people to throw out the baby with the bathwater.
Are the myriad parenting styles offered by the media as opposites to attachment parenting—French parents and Tiger Moms for instance—really that far apart in the fundamentals? And if they are poles apart, where is the evidence to support their philosophies? What is “attachment,” what does it have to do with parenting, and how does it relate to mental health and well-being?
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On the timeline of human history, the structure of the modern nuclear family is a relatively new invention. When we refer to past norms, we often stop at “Leave It to Beaver,” as though parents always left home to spend their days in an office and Grandma’s house was never closer than over the river and through the woods.
But once upon a time in the very real world, it was not so unusual for extended families to live together in the same community—each family member contributing significantly to the wellbeing of the group. When children were old enough to help, they worked alongside their parents, and if a mother became overwhelmed with the care of an infant, there were likely to be grandparents, cousins or siblings who could step in to help.
This hands-on experience taught older children how to care for infants in the family, so that by the time they had children of their own they were not ignorant about child care. (Full story . . . )
The problem with books meant to popularize psychology is that they don’t always make the research easier for people to understand. Sometimes pop-psych and self-help writers get in the way of understanding: either by oversimplifying the concepts or leaping to unjustified conclusions about how to apply it in practical life. As a result, people who can’t make the leap with the author not only reject taking the stretch, they may be so confused about where the original research begins and ends that they also reject what could have been important, life-changing insights.
Is this what attachment theory is facing? Have extreme interpretations of what is now popularly known as “attachment parenting” actually caused many people to throw out the baby with the bathwater (so to speak)? What do researchers mean when they talk about attachment? (Full story . . . )