A widely-accepted concept of child development known as attachment theory states that a child’s bond with a parent begins from the first moments of life. A child’s ability to develop properly and form positive attachments with parents and others is formed in the first few years of life. If the child does not form quality bonds with parents and other caregivers during this period, many researchers question whether those bonds can ever be adequately formed. Children who lacked this proper ability are believed to have great difficulty relating to others and establishing relationships later in life. Stable and consistent attachments during a child’s early years are vital for the child’s mental and social development, as well as the growth of the parent/child bond.
What does this mean for parent’s of infants? In my experience, the most important lesson is to INSIST ON REGULAR, APPROPRIATE CONTACT WITH THE CHILD FROM DAY ONE, INCLUDING CUSTODY AND VISITATION RIGHTS. Of course, this assumes that the parent is able to are for the child competently and safely. Completely equal placement between the parents is not necessary. Frequent and consistent contact between a child and a competent parent is believed sufficient to establish the desired bond. The longer this contact is delayed, the harder it is to establish, and the greater the court’s reluctance to grant the secondary parent more than minimal visitation.
I urge new parents to consult with me to ensure that their rights are clearly and quickly established, both for their and their children’s benefit.