A child’s attachment to caregivers defines his most basic and earliest forms of behavior. It can go on to impact his adult life as most researches have established. However, one cannot simply blame his or her parents for the way he has turned out in his life. There are plenty of other influences, other occurrences that may have happened in between infancy and adulthood that can mold one’s personality. The most elemental, however is the foundation and this is the attachment to one’s caregivers during infancy.
This paper shall examine the role of attachment and cultural factors in one’s development. Attachment The father of attachment theory, John Bowlby (1969) describes attachment as a “lasting psychological connectedness between human beings” (Cherry n. d. ). This attachment forms between a child and his caregiver, typically his parents, during 0-5 years of age. Bowlby believed that there are 4 characteristics of attachment, namely: proximity maintenance, safe haven, secure base and separation distress (Cherry n. d. ).
Proximity maintenance is the desire of the child to be continuously close to the person with whom he developed an attachment (caregiver). When the child feels distressed, fearful or threatened, he would want to be with his caregiver as he feels that this person is his safe haven. The caregiver provides the child with basic security that allows the child to confidently explore his surroundings. Without the caregiver within the child’s orbit, the child will grow anxious and fearsome.
This attachment between child and caregiver is mutual and natural in the sense that caregivers have a natural tendency to reach out and care for children, just as children instinctively reach out and seek the caregiver’s love and attention (Crisci, Kussin and Mayer, Consultation, Counselling and Training n. d. ). Numerous researches suggest that attachment can have severe impact in one’s adult life.
This is because attachment, so very early life, impacts brain development that the child will carry on for the rest of his life (Crisci, Kussin and Mayer, Consultation, Counselling and Training n. d. ). Secure attachments happen when caregivers are attuned to the needs of children, able to mollify children in times of distress, providing children with the affection they crave, happy to provide the care and guidance to children (Crisci, Kussin and Mayer, Consultation, Counselling and Training n. d. ).
On the other hand, secure children demonstrate security by wanting/needing to be approximate with their caregivers (with physical contact), they want to continuously mingle with their caregivers, they feel secure in the presence of their caregivers that they are able to try new things and explore their surroundings better (Crisci, Kussin and Mayer, Consultation, Counselling and Training n. d. ). Insecure attachment is just about the opposite of secure attachment with caregivers who are inattentive and children who do not care for them.
However, there are different kinds of insecure attachment: Anxious/ambivalent attachment happens when the caregiver is unreliable. He or she may be attuned to the needs of the child one moment, then cold and uncaring the next. The child is left unsure and confused as to how to feel towards his caregiver. He may feel exaggeratedly anxious and miserable when his caregiver goes away but is not mollified upon the caregiver’s return (Crisci, Kussin and Mayer, Consultation, Counselling and Training n. d. ).
Avoidant attachments happen when caregivers simply do not care for the child. The child is continuously rejected and as such, he grows resentful and avoidant of his caregiver. Because he cannot feel that he can trust his own caregiver, he do things on his own and learns independence this way. Lastly, disorganized or disoriented attachments happen when caregivers are abusive or extremely neglecting (Crisci, Kussin and Mayer, Consultation, Counselling and Training n. d. ).
The children, in turn, develop ambivalent and avoidant styles of attachment. Cultural Factors Joan Miller (1994) said that there is not a single universal morality of caring that is existent in this planet; rather, there are alternative types of interpersonal moralities that show meaning, emphasized across multiple cultures. Though the attachment theory is universal, it may vary considerably across different cultures and different places may have different impact upon child development.
Given that the definition of culture is as broad as can be, and one may not be conscious of it in his or her own orbit, the impact of culture one’s development is undeniable and severely consequential (Rothbaum, F. , Rosen, K. , Ujiie, T. and Uchida, N. 2004) Children from different cultures may not behave in the same manner even though all circumstances are similar. A child from North America may grow non-independent because of insecure attachment while a child from Cambodia where neglect of children is an everyday occurrence may grow independent.
Indeed, cultural factors may influence the attachment theory given that it is as much about the caregivers’ attitudes as well as the children’s. The caregivers’, for this matter, may perhaps be the driving force behind the child’s development, as it is through the adult caregiver wherein the child draws his first experiences and thereby sets the caregivers actions as his primary bases of behavior. Immigration is just one of the many aspects of cultural factors that may severely affect a child’s attachment.
For instance, a child who has been deeply attached to his grandparents in China may be forced to leave them behind at age 36 months because his parents have decided to move to another country (say the USA) where everything is different. Suddenly, he will be forced to learn a new language; one he has not heard of since the beginning of his life. He will continuously be seeking his grandparents’ accents, voice intonations, presence and since he cannot find this in America, he may grow resentful of his parents.
Another example is when a child has grown deeply attached towards his mother but his mother was suddenly assigned to work someplace where she cannot take her child with her. The child is then left to the care of another caregiver and this may cause the child to develop insecure attachment and may convince himself that the people around him are undependable and uncaring. He may grow ambivalent and this early attachment can impact the way he deals with people for the rest of his life. A child’s immigrant nanny can also impact his development in life.
If this child has come to know his nanny as the primary caregiver, he may develop cross-cultural characteristics that even his parents may wonder about this trait. One with a Puerto Rican nanny may even learn the language or may have characteristics such that he can only be mollified by Puerto Rican-language songs. Conclusion Cultures and beliefs can have severe impact on a child’s attachment given that this early in his life, he is looking for people whom he can depend upon and he may seek it in all the ways a child can express his longing.
Immigration can disturb a child’s secure attachment and the parenting techniques of his primary caregivers can impact his development. A child must be judged by others because his upbringing is different from what is the norm.
References: Cherry, K. (n. d. ). Attachment Styles. About. com. Retrieved, 8 Aug. 2010 from http://psychology. about. com/od/loveandattraction/ss/attachmentstyle. htm Cherry, K. (n. d. ). Attachment Theory. About. com. Retrieved, 8 Aug. 2010 from http://psychology. about. com/od/loveandattraction/a/attachment01. htm Crisci, Kussin and Mayer, Consultation, Counselling and Training (n. d. )
Attachment. Attachmentacrosscultures. org. Retrieved, 8 Aug. 2010 from http://www. attachmentacrosscultures. org/about/about15. htm#b2 Miller, J. (1994). Cultural Diversity in the Morality of Caring: Individually Oriented Versus Duty-Based Interpersonal Moral Codes. Cross-Cultural Research, 28 (1), 3-39. doi: 10. 1177/106939719402800101 Rothbaum, F. , Rosen, K. , Ujiie, T. and Uchida, N. (2004). amily Systems Theory, Attachment Theory, and Culture. Family Process, 41 (3), 328-350. doi: 10. 1111/j. 1545-5300. 2002. 41305. x
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