Cultivation of Roots

Is one parent enough to raise an emotionally stable child?

Maybe one isn’t, in fact, the loneliest number!  And perhaps after all the conjecture and media- hyped hysterical pseudo-psychological ‘studies,’ children can and will thrive in a single parent or divorced home after all.

In fact, a peer-reviewed scholarly journal article from 2012, well-substantiated and analyzed, found (again) that children who bond closely with one or the other parent (as a stable, consistent, loving caregiver) grow up and become well-adjusted adults.

The research finds that young kiddos only require a true and authentic bond (an enduring emotional attachment) with one parent–a safe someone and a safe place–to bolster their emotional constancy into adult life.

Child development guru and renowned expert Urie Bronfenbrenner had it right all those many years ago when he famously stated, “Every child needs at least one adult who is irrationally crazy about him or her.”  Think quality, not quantity!  If the interaction and interconnection is a warm, consistent, positive tie, it can be enough; plenty in fact!

Connected, attached children have a lesser likelihood of growing into aggressive, emotionally unregulated members of society. They are statistically less likely to exhibit disruptive behaviors in school as well.

Dr Sanghag Kim, who co-authored the study urges, as do the Object Relations theorists, whether it’s mother or father (or other primary caregiver), do the work within the first two years of life; this is essential, vital, and will result in a healthy bonded mother (father)- child reunion.  The first two years of the human child’s life is a critical period for emotional attachment and relational growth. Plant the roots early.

Furthermore, the good news continues as the study results show identical markers for both the stay-at-home and work outside the home parents, as well as single parents and dad only situations.  Again, think quality, and this time, not gender!  Obviously the more the merrier when it comes to loving, bonded and consistent adults in the child’s life.  But isn’t it nice to know that a solo loving adult caregiver can meet the demands and feed a child’s psychological needs quite nicely?

The moral of the study is exactly as Urie told us:  “In order to develop normally, a child requires progressively more complex joint activity with one or more adults who have an irrational emotional relationship with the child. Somebody’s got to be crazy about that kid. That’s number one. First, last and always”.

Dr. Tracy Scanlon, LPC, CT, CEAP
Director of Professional and Programs Services – Outreach Teen and Family Services