When Parents Get Divorced...

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When Parents Get Divorced...
How divorce affects the bonds parents have with their kids

Divorce is difficult psychologically, emotionally and financially for adults. It is considered the most profoundly difficult life transition besides the loss of a loved one by death. There is evidence that children experience the effects of divorce even more keenly than adults. This is because, to children, their family's divorce seems to occur suddenly and they have no real control over their situation (Page, 2003).

To preserve the parent-infant attachment bond through divorce, the divorcing partners need to detach themselves from each other and truly put their children first. The divorcing adults need to take the concept of co-parenting seriously and take the necessary steps to educate themselves on how to co-parent properly.

There are numerous online resources and local classes and books dealing with the subject of healthy co-parenting. Online resources are listed in the addendum section of this document. The best case scenario is if both parents cooperate in co-parenting. Sadly, that is not always the case. Sometimes one (or both) partners have an underlying mental illness, such as an addiction, severe depression, or narcissism, that distressed the marriage relationship, and will make cooperative co-parenting difficult (Hannibal, 2007).

What is Attachment?
Attachment is the biologically-based, long-lasting emotional bond between human beings whose purpose is to facilitate safety and security.
Parent-child attachment is the biologically-based, emotional bond between child and caregivers, which endures over space and time. Parent-child attachment is deeply imbedded in human physiology as a means of promoting safety and survival by keeping protecting adults close to helpless offspring.

Secure attachment at the beginning of life is necessary for both physical, emotional and psychological well-being (Karen, 1994). It is noted by multiple researchers that poorly attached babies and children, such as those left to languish in orphanages, have multiple physical ailments and in fact sometimes die, due to failure-to-thrive syndrome (Bowlby, 1982). Poorly attached children grow into adults with high rates of psychological and physical illnesses (Riggs & Han, 2009).

Attachment develops as a result of a reciprocal, interactive process requiring accessibility and responsiveness on a daily basis with the primary caregiver. The pattern of need gratification repeated many times on a daily basis over a long period of time produces trust of care, which is the foundation of secure attachment.

Stability and continuity of care by a primary caregiver is the most important factor in development of the attachment bond in infancy. The baby must be with, see, smell and be taken care of in a responsive, consistent manner by the primary caregiver in order to develop stable psychology and secure emotionality (Bowlby, 1982; Han, 2009).

Infant Attachment
The parent-child attachment bond develops over time in infancy. John Bowlby (1982) defined three phases in infancy related to development of attachment, plus an additional phase occurring at about three years of age. The infancy phases directly relates to the developmental capabilities of the infant.

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