Tuesday, April 20, 2010
UNDERSTANDING THE EFFECTS OF ATTACHMENT AND SEPARATION / Part 171 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne/
Understanding the Effects of Attachment and Separation
Children develop relationship with significant people in their lives and this is termed attachment. First attachments are certainly with biological mom and usually with biological dad. In some situations other people serve as that first attachment who is the primary caregiver. These significant attachment figures enable a child to systematize perceptions, to understand logically, to grow intellectually, to develop coping mechanisms, conscience and self reliance. This was happening in the Bayne household with the two small boys when the infant daughter was only weeks old in September 2007.
Optimal parent-child attachment occurs when three conditions are present in the relationship, continuity, stability and mutuality. Continuity is the requisite constancy of the caregiver in the child’s experience with the accompanying repetition of parent-child interactions whether they are tucking in at night, kneeling for a prayer, filling a bowl with cereal or running the bathwater. Stability is the secure and protected environment where a parent and child bond continually. Mutuality is a term applicable to the parent-child interactions that reinforce their importance to one another, like the “I love you” and “I love you more” or caresses or hand holds, touches and hugs. MCFD has insured that no chance at optimal attachment is possible for Paul and Zabeth and their three children for the past two and one half years. Any attachment, such as it must be, is forged in two three hour sessions each week.
Parenting behaviour that successfully secures infant and child attachment to the caregiver must feature two things and not just one alone. One feature is the caregiver’s recognition and response to an infant’s cues or signals and then meets those needs and the second feature is a caregiver’s continual engagement of the child in social interaction. Studies to which I have referred indicate that neither behaviour alone is adequate to secure attachment. During the three hour visitation sessions, Paul and Zabeth must be careful to follow questionable rules imposed by a supervisor, under threat of cancelled visitation privilege. So, when a child asks for help in the bathroom, the parents are told not to respond but to let the child to master the situation.
With little debate it can be said that separation can achieve both positive and negative outcomes. It is positive when society provides protection for the child through separation when the caregiver is failing to limit personal harmful behaviour. In such cases the separation may also provide a parent with a brief release from child-rearing in order to make some necessary changes.
Nonetheless separation interferes with a child’s development of healthy attachments and impedes the child’s readiness to attempt intimate relationships. Traumatic separations from parents can cause low self esteem, distrust of adults, mood disorders, inadequate social skills, language delays and regressive behaviour such as bed wetting. It is time for the judge in this case to make the judgement that for the Bayne family, the insistent and unrelenting agency interference with these children has been unhelpful and in fact unwise, uninformed and meddlesome. These children have suffered more developmental damage by the action of MCFD than we may ever know.
Ministry people, do the right thing and return these children to their biological mom and dad.