© 2008 – 2018 Gwen Dewar, all rights reserved
One criticism of the Strange Situation procedure is that it has focused almost exclusively on the mother-infant bond.
In part, this may reflect a cultural bias. Many people who study attachment come from industrialized societies where mothers usually bear most of the responsibility for childcare.
But in some families, fathers spend a great deal of time with their children.
And in many parts of the world, grandmothers, aunts, uncles, and siblings make substantial–even crucial–contributions to childcare.
In fact, among some modern-day foragers, like the Aka and Efe of central Africa, infants spend the much of the day being held by someone other than their mothers (Hewlett 1991; Konner 2005).
Such evidence has inspired evolutionary anthropologists to “rethink…assumptions about the exclusivity of the mother-infant relationship” (Hrdy 2005).
For instance, anthropologist Sarah Blaffer Hrdy has argued that non-maternal caregivers may have played an important role in human evolution (Hrdy 2005). When infants have multiple caregivers, their mothers bear less of the cost of child-rearing. Mothers can afford to have more children, and their children can afford to grow up more slowly.
Interestingly, these life-history traits—higher fertility and an extended childhood—distinguish humans from our closest living relatives, the great apes (Smuts et al 1989). And ape mothers—unlike many human mothers—must raise their kids without helpers.
So perhaps “allocare” (non-maternal childcare) gave our ancestors the edge—allowing us to reproduce at faster rates than our nonhuman cousins.
You are watching: The western value of independence is clearly exhibited in _____.
If so, it’s foolish to assume that human babies are designed for exclusive attachments to a single, maternal caregiver.
While this point doesn’t detract from the importance of Strange Situation studies, it reminds us that infants can bond with more than one person.
Research confirms that infants form secure attachment relationships with both their mothers and their fathers (Boldt et al 2017). Studies show that toddlers can form secure attachments to their daycare providers (Colonnesi et al 2017). School children can form secure attachments with their teachers (Verschueren 2015).
And when they do — when children expand their network of secure relationships — they are more likely to thrive.
For more readings about the importance of secure, personal relationships, see these articles
References: The Strange Situation
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