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What Is Parenthood?Contemporary Debates about the Family$
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Linda C. McClain and Daniel Cere

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780814729151

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814729151.001.0001

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Parenting Matters

Parenting Matters

An Attachment Perspective

Chapter:
(p.214) Chapter Ten Parenting Matters
Source:
What Is Parenthood?
Author(s):

Howard Steele

Miriam Steele

Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9780814729151.003.0010

This chapter examines how parenting has been defined and studied by advocates of attachment theory and research in that area. It also describes attachment research tools which can be used to assist policymakers and judges with decision-making processes regarding parent custody, child protection, and the prevention of child abuse. According to John Bowlby's landmark trilogy, Attachment, Separation, and Loss, parents are attachment figures on whom children depend as a secure base from which the child explores (away) when feeling curious; and a safe haven to which the child returns when frightened or otherwise distressed. There is an implicit interplay between the motivation to attach (in search of familiarity/safety) and the motivation to explore (in search of novelty/danger). Getting the balance right in one's personal and family life is an ongoing challenge for every parent (and child). The chapter reviews the psychological characteristics of the parent who meets the demands to serve as both a secure base and a safe haven, and the lifelong relevance of these concepts for healthy child, adolescent, and adult development. It considers Bowlby's writings on parenthood along with an account of the extent to which his views from the 1950s and 1960s have been validated by fifty years of systematic research.

Keywords:   parenting, parenthood, attachment theory, John Bowlby, children, security, safe haven, family

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