In the light of changes to the family since 1950 are Bowlbys ideas about care for young children still relevant today? Essay

In the visible radiation of alterations to the household since 1950 are Bowlbys thoughts about attention for immature kids still relevant today?

Case-study: Anna is three and a half, her female parent, Jane, suffered from station natal depression and had to be placed in a psychiatric infirmary when Anna was two hebdomads old, Anna was looked after by her grandma, which broke down. She was placed in surrogate attention who worked with societal services who kept Anna in contact with her female parent, three times a hebdomad, after 5 months Jane was discharged and Anna returned place, Jane worked full clip when Anna was 18 months, Anna was placed with a childminder.

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Bowlby wrote his book on child care in 1953, based on observations of the emotional harm done to kids who were separated from their parents due to the effects of World War 2. In his book Bowlby outlined 3 phases of development during which maternal fond regard is achieved:

Ages 0 – 6 months, where fond regard to one individual ( normally the female parent ) is formed.

Ages 6 – 36 months where psychological advancement and development continue, provided that the female parent is close by.

Age 36 months onwards where the kid learns to get by entirely.

Removal from the female parent figure during any of these phases would hold a detrimental consequence on the mental wellness of the grownup.

His chief averment nevertheless was that attention was best delivered within the household, nevertheless bad the parenting, because of the damaging effects of maternal want ( deficiency of maternal fond regard to one individual ) experienced in surrogate places and establishments.

During the last 50 old ages, there have been many alterations to the society in which we live. The household, which is cited for many grounds and taken to intend the atomic household of a heterosexual twosome and dependent kids, is a relatively new definition, derived from the industrial revolution. Prior to the industrial age, the household provided for itself and worked to back up all household members, within the family. Once the work became paid, it was chiefly carried on outside the place, male trade brotherhoods fought for the rights of the workers ( male ) to a nice pay and better working conditions. Womans were required to remain place and mind the kids.

Bowlby’s thoughts were welcomed by the society of the 1950s where work forces were returning from active service to take up civilian lives and adult females were being encouraged to go forth their occupations and to go the Centre of the household and to reconstruct lives after the injury of the war old ages and separation. Womans who had been used to working were being told by the civil service that nursery proviso was non required now, because immature kids should be at place with their female parents. At the clip, the civil retainers were chiefly work forces. This is in crisp contrast to the war old ages where adult females were urged to go forth their kids and travel to work in mills ( replacing the work forces ) so that the work forces could travel to war.

Over clip, it has been found that many full clip married womans and female parents experience isolation, defeat and experience trapped in their places. Many adult females are dissatisfied with housekeeping are lonely have low self-prides when out of the workplace, at place with merely their kids for company. Harmonizing to Pascall ( 1986 ) should adult females make up one’s mind to hold a calling interruption and remain at place during their child’s early old ages they will happen themselves disadvantaged in footings of ‘pay and status’ upon returning to work. In add-on, they may good seek part-time work, so that they can pull off the demands of place and household.

From a feminist position, this construct of the atomic household, with the female parent at place, while the male parent toils for a crust is a myth, perpetuated by assorted groups in society. Whilst this is a world for some financially better off households, for most female parents in the 21stCentury, work is a given and suiting household life around a calling is indispensable. Nor is the construct of the atomic household every bit common as once it was, for many households, there are individual parents supplying attention within the place and working as a necessity, with child minding by either paid professionals or by other household members.

Since Bowlby’s original work, research has continued into maternal separation and kid public assistance. It has been found that babes can organize fond regards to other grownups, male parents in peculiar. So from Jane and Anna’s position, the Foster female parent would hold provided the secure relationship that the babe needed to enable her to develop her personality. Anna would hold made an fond regard to her Foster female parent, during the first 6 months of her life. She besides maintained a relationship with her female parent, Jane, seeing her 3 times a hebdomad.

Jane stayed at place for the following twelvemonth, traveling out to work when Anna was 18 months old. Anna was cared for by a kid minder, during the period that her female parent was out of the place. There is no reference of Anna’s male parent, so it may perchance be assumed that Jane is a individual parent? Government policy now supports female parents returning to work, with the usage of household friendly policies and revenue enhancement credits ( fiscal inducements ) .

Rutter’s thoughts ( 1986 ) have refuted the work of Bowlby, reasoning that the child’s demands can be separated into 3 countries ‘Bonding, caretaking and play’ and that every bit long as these 3 maps can be achieved for the kid, it may be by the same individual, but it does non hold to be. During Anna’s early life ( first 6 months ) the first 2 would hold been achieved by her Foster female parent and drama by her female parent ; nevertheless, as clip went on and Jane returned to wellness, the maps could hold been shared until Jane was able to take over all 3. When Jane returned to work, Anna would hold retained her fond regard to her female parent and may good ( because of her old experience ) have been happy to travel to a kid minder, cognizing that she would be re-united with her female parent.

Bowlby’s thoughts are still of import with respect to organizing fond regards, but there are some uncertainties about whether the female parent is cardinal, given that there are other attention givers in many children’s lives, with whom the kids signifier fond regards. Child minders, grandparents and male parents can and make portion the load of kid attention. What is of import for the child’s public assistance and long term mental wellness is that ( s ) he learns to swear familiar grownups in a uninterrupted relationship.


Bowlby, J. ( 1953 )Child Care and the Growth of Love.( 2neodymiumEdition1965 ) Penguin, Harmondsworth.

Pascall, G. ( 1986 )Social Policy: A Feminist Analysis,Tavistock, London.

Rutter, M. ( 1986 )Maternal Deprivation Reassessed( 2neodymiumEdition ) Penguin, Harmondsworth


Bowlby studied child care during 1940s while Britain and Europe were still at war ( 60 old ages ago ) .

1953 Book on first twelvemonth of a child’s life and function of the female parent. In it he describes his theories about immature kids and the importance of their female parents in their lives.


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