Parenting Styles and Attachment

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1. Describe and discuss the connection between parenting styles and attachment.

Sigelman and Rider (2006) state that “Many noted theorists have argued that no social relationship is more important than the first: the bond between parent and infant”. Both Freud and Erikson placed great emphasis on the parent-child relationship and its importance to “normal” development.

Freud believed that the human child is born with natural instincts and drives. The relationship that the caregivers had with the child has a major impact on how this child developed into a mature adult. Erikson’s psychosocial stages are also directly related to the caregiver’s responses to the child.

John Bowlby was a significant contributor to this belief and developed what is known as “Attachment Theory” after being influenced by the ideas of Freud, Erikson and others. This was later built upon by Mary Ainsworth who worked on after Bowlby’s death in 1990.According to Sigelman and Rider (2006) this theory is now the most commonly accepted theory on attachment of current times.

Sigelman and Rider (2006) quote Bowlby (1969), “an attachment is a strong affectional tie that binds a person to an intimate companion”. Most of the human race forms their initial attachment to their parents (usually the mother) at around 6 months old. The child will usually seek this attachment figure out above all others. This attachment “object” is kept close and is a basis of other attachments formed throughout the lifespan.

Attachment usually begins to form before birth for the parents of the child, especially the mother. If separation does occur then the child may display “separation anxiety”. This is where the child becomes distressed at the knowledge that their “love object” has disappeared.

Bowlby believed that nature/nurture involvement in attachment is that we naturally seek out attachments to others whether we are babies or adults in an attempt to feel protected (Sigelman and Rider 2006)....
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