Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Letter of the day: Divorced from maternal care

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As a general practitioner, I would like to commend the writer Libby Simon for her excellent article, Daycare revisited (Oct. 22). She astutely points out the study by the U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, which found the more time children under 4-1/2 years old spend in non-maternal care, the more likely they are to display such problem behaviours as assertiveness, disobedience and aggression.

Another common situation in which young children regrettably spend a great deal of time in non-maternal care is joint-custody divorce. Often, there are many caregivers involved, paving the way for a disruption of the child's primary attachment to the mother.

Simon astutely points out how John Bowlby, a British psychoanalyst and the father of attachment theory, emphasized the significance of our first bond with the mother in a historic study on attachment and loss: "Attachment is essential in developing trust and empathy and is the root for establishing meaningful relationships with others."

Therefore, any situation that interferes with our first nurturing attachment can negatively affect the behaviour and health of the child. We must realize the importance of leaving a child in a safe, secure and stable home environment with a consistent caregiver -- the mother -- during the child's first 4.5 years of life.

DR. DEBBIE POLLOCK
Winnipeg

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 4, 2011 A13

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