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April 11, 2015
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This brief YouTube video offers perspective on "emotional
unavailability" (an inability to bond and empathize). :
These two research summaries add perspective to the complex subject of
mother-childf bonding. A premise in this Web site is that poor bonding can
have major negative effects on the wholistic health and adult success of
typical kids. See my comments after the article. The links and hilights below
are mine. -
Peter Gerlach, MSW
What Causes Moms and Kids to
by Stuart Fox -
livescience.com, "Life's Little
Mysteries" writer; via Yahoo news 5/9/2010
Aristotle once quipped that,
"Mothers are fonder than fathers of their children because they are more
certain they are their own," but recent work in the field of behavioral
neuroscience has shown that maternal love involves a chemical stew far more
complex than Aristotle's simple saying.
In particular, scientists have identified the hormone oxytocin as important
to human bonding, although researchers caution that they still only have a
superficial understanding of how this chemical behaves in humans.
Oxytocin performs a number of roles in the human body, and is especially
important in expecting and recent mothers, because it can help induce labor
or stimulate lactation. That link to pregnancy made it a prime suspect for
inducing mother-child bonding, and much research has concentrated on
uncovering its role in maternal behavior, said Jennifer Bartz, an assistant
professor of psychiatry at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York.
"We know that oxytocin facilitates child birth and lactation, and that has
led some to investigate its role in attachment between mother and child, and
in adult-adult pair bonds," Bartz told Life's Little Mysteries (LifeScience.com).
"It's pretty clear that the hormone
oxytocin plays a role in bond formation in animals, but right now, we really
know very little about the neurochemistry of bonding in humans."
The exact mechanism by which oxytocin initiates bonding remains poorly
understood. The chemical interacts with a number of other hormones
associated with pleasure and social behavior, and scientists have not yet
unraveled that complex web of biochemical interactions, Bartz said. However,
research has shown that oxytocin helps individuals remember the faces of the
people they like, and distinguish them from the people they don't like.
"It seems like one of the things oxytocin does is facilitate social memory.
It helps us establish a preference for particular individuals," Bartz said.
And, as any mother who feels that her kids call too rarely can attest,
the oxytocin-based mechanism that
bonds mothers to children may not work reciprocally. While the role
of oxytocin in childbirth helped researchers link it to motherly love, no
evidence has yet shown what chemicals might endear mothers to their
children, Bartz said.
+ + +
Close Relationship with Mom Leads to Better Romance Later
by Rachael Rettner -
LiveScience Staff Writer, via Yahoo News - 5/29/2010
How well you get along with your parents in your teens might influence your
romantic relationships a decade later, a new study suggests.
The results show a close relationship with one's mother in early adolescence
was associated with better-quality romantic relationships as young adults.
The findings highlight the
importance of the parent-child bond for building relationships later in life,
the researchers say.
"Parents' relationships with their children are extremely important and
that's how we develop our ability to have successful relationships as
adults, our parents are our models," said study researcher Constance Gager,
of Montclair State University in New Jersey. "So if kids are not feeling
close with their parents then they're probably not going to model the
positive aspects of that relationship when they reach adulthood."
However, the strength of the parent-child connection later in adolescence,
after the age of 14, did not seem to influence the children's romantic
relationships when they were older. This might be because late adolescence
is too late to have an impact, Gager said.
"Adolescents may be more fully formed by age 14 so that there's not as much
effect of their parents' relationship on them," she told LiveScience.
The results were presented on May 28 at the Association for
Psychological Science Convention in Boston.
Gager and her colleagues analyzed the results of a national survey involving
nearly 7,000 married couples in the United States. Between 1992 and 1994,
the mothers, fathers and children, aged 10 through 17, were asked about
their relationships with each other. About a decade later, between 2001 and
2004, the children, now aged 20 to 27, were surveyed about their
relationships with people they were dating (but not living with).
The parents and children were asked to rate statements about the "warmth"
and closeness of their relationships, such as "It's easy for me to laugh
and have a good time with my parent/child," and "I feel on edge or tense
when I'm with my parent/child."
The grown-up children had to answer questions regarding relationship
satisfaction and how much conflict they were having with their dating
Only the mother's description of the relationship with her child was able to
predict how well those children got along with their serious
boyfriends/girlfriends later. Specifically,
those children with warm and close
relationships with their mothers had more satisfaction and less conflict
with their significant others
Although fathers have become more involved in the lives of their children in
recent decades, the research suggests that it might not quite be enough to
have an effect on the children's adult romantic relationships, Gager said.
She notes that women are still responsible for two-thirds of the household
labor and child-care.
"But we hope in the future as men become more involved with their children
and things move along to maybe be a little more equal that we'll start to
see effects of fathers on their children," she said.
What about children's views?
The fact that a mother's perception of closeness, but not the child's,
influenced the adult romantic relationships might be due to children not
being as good survey-takers as adults are, Gager said.
In future studies, scientists might need to reconsider how to phrase
questions in order to better gauge perceptions of children, she said.
"It could be that we're not tapping into the kinds of things that might be
more meaningful to children," Gager said. "Maybe 'warm' doesn't mean
anything to children," whereas it would to an adult."
"Maybe today we would say 'Do you like hanging around with your parents,'"
to make the phrase more attuned to children's vernacular, she said.
Future work should also examine romantic relationships not just involving
people who are dating, but people who are living together or married, she
Some people "bond" (form psychological-spiritual attachments) better than
others. People who are able to form healthy reciprocal bonds appear to be
happier, healthier, and more effective parents than those who can't. One of six
wounds proposed by this Web site is an
inability to bond
Premise - the degree of
bonding between a mother and child
(and between her and her own mother) are major determinants of a family's
nurturance level. If a mother
inherits significant psychological
(e.g. weak bonding)
from her ancestors, she risks unintentionally passing them on to her young kids. The same
dynamic may apply to father-child bonding also.
The first article above doesn't define "maternal binding,": and
focuses only on its possible its hormonal and neurochemical roots. The
any findings on what genetic and psychological factors determine the
presence or absence of the hormone oxytocin in a new mother.
The main finding in this study and
summary is how little is known about the neuro-chemical (and psychological)
roots of maternal bonding. The article makes no mention of how the
degree of such bonding (weak > strong) affects the wholistic health of mother and child.
Conventional wisdom suggests that early-childhood bonding with each
parent is crucial for healthy child development.
A fundamental question is - which comes first: an inherited
(genetic) "bonding hormone" in the mother, or psychological
health which promotes the hormone - or both? Another
crucial question is what can new parents do to raise the odds of
healthy bonding with a newborn child?
The second research summary suggests that mother-child "warmth and
closeness" promote the child's later relationship satisfaction. The study
makes no attempt to identify
what "warmth and closeness" are;
what factors determine parent-child "warmth
and closeness," or...
the relationship between maternal
and "warmth and closeness;" or...
whether a mother's own early-childhood
experience (stressful vs. nurturing) affects her bonding with her
how early-childhood maternal warmth and
closeness affects a child's overall development and wholistic health.
any difference the child's gender and
birth-order may make on the later effects of maternal "warmth and
whether kids experiencing maternal "warmth
and closeness" are able to provide those same things to their own kids.
Implication - this study only examines one
pair of variables among many that determine how parental nurturance affects adult-children's wholistic health, success, happiness,
and productivity. At best, this study's findings support the general view
that early parent-child relationships significantly affect child
development. It's significant that these articles' authors omit any
editorial comments like mine here.
Lessons 5 and 6 in this
focus on family health and effective parenting.
This article examines
interpersonal bonding in some detail..