Becoming Attached Book Summary By Robert Karen

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Becoming Attached is a must-read for all parents, offering incredible insights into the ways that children's first relationship with their primary caregiver can shape their development.

It brings science to life by highlighting ample research findings regarding attachment.

This book allows readers to explore the significance of the bond between parent and child, as well as its implications on a child’s positive or negative development in both the short and long term.

By examining these special relationships, this book offers both new knowledge and fresh understandings about human behavior and how it shapes our world.

Becoming Attached

Book Name: Becoming Attached (First Relationships and How They Shape Our Capacity to Love)

Author(s): Robert Karen

Rating: 4/5

Reading Time: 17 Minutes

Categories: Parenting

Author Bio

Robert Karen is a renowned clinical psychologist and bestselling author of many successful works in the psychology field, including his most recent book The Forgiving Self: The Road from Resentment to Connection.

Karen is well-regarded in the area of psychology and has deep insights into the power of connection and how forgiving ourselves can lead to better relationships with others.

He currently serves as assistant clinical professor at the Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies, where he shares his expertise with the next generation of aspiring psychologists.

The Controversial Psychology Of Childhood Attachment: Exploring The Deep Impact Of Our First Relationships


Being a parent is often shrouded in uncertainty and doubt, with developmental psychologists researching each new understanding of child attachment and development.

Becoming Attached sheds much-needed light on the importance of healthy childhood attachment.

It dives deep into the top research studies which explain how a child’s first relationship with their primary caregiver has an influential role in their psychological development.

Not only that, but it debunks common myths about daycare being always harmful and provides real insights from some of the leading experts in the field.

You’ll also learn about how separation from parents for even just a few days can have a negative impact on your child; and there are even explanations regarding different types of parent-child attachment styles and how these shape our relationships with our children.

The Complex Nature Of Attachment And Its Role In Early Development

The strong, special bond between children and their parents or other primary caregivers is known as attachment.

This fundamental need of babies begins in their first year of life since, without a caregiver, they would not be able to survive.

As children grow towards toddlerhood, they become increasingly reliant on the bond with their caregiver – they show signs of distress if their caregiver is out of sight and favour them over others.

Researchers have conducted observations even in animals like monkeys to better understand the concept of attachment – a classic example being when baby monkeys prefer to cling to one false mother that had soft cloth around it over another fake mother which held food for nourishment.

In order to understand attachment better today, researchers debate about certain theories on how best to nurture it but these debates often lead parents to feeling confused about which parenting style best promotes secure attachments.

The Power Of A Secure Attachment: How Our Parents Provide Us With Comfort And Practical Knowledge

A secure base for children is a crucial factor in allowing them to explore their environment.

This idea was made clear when researchers conducted an experiment using baby monkeys with wire mothers.

The monkey that had its “mother” was initially scared, but eventually it felt secure enough to leave the mother and explore its surroundings.

This same reaction happens when babies look around and explore new things – as long as they feel their attachment figure is nearby, they are more likely to keep exploring the world around them.

Toddlers also rely on their mothers for this security, although it can manifest itself in negative ways like wandering off too far or testing limits.

But at the end of the day, having a secure base like a mother (or other primary caregiver) is essential in giving children a feeling of safety and comfort while they explore the world around them.

The Consequences Of Separating Parents And Children In Hospitals

Children In Hospitals

Separating a young child from its mother can have serious consequences for the child’s development, as James Robertson’s research has proven.

In one film study involving a two-year-old girl, the child was left in the hospital for just eight days and her emotions changed drastically.

At first she cried constantly, then refused to engage with her parents when they came to visit.

She suffered even after going back home, exhibiting anxiety and irritability.

Children that young are unable to comprehend that their separation is not permanent; if they’re kept away from their caregiver for only a few days, they’ll assume it’s forever gone.

For those cases where children are hospitalized and kept away from their parents for an extended period of time, the outcomes can be devastating.

They may refuse contact from their parents or even stop eating altogether.

Eventually hospitals started allowing parents unlimited visiting hours after learning about these findings but it took some time for them to come around.

Thankfully now we know how important it is that young children stay near their caregivers

as much as possible – both mentally and physically – in order to ensure healthy development.

Mary Ainsworth’S Contributions To Child Psychology And The Three Attachment Types She Identified

Mary Ainsworth’s Becoming Attached explores the idea that someone’s attitude and behavior towards attachment can be classified into one of three distinct attachment styles.

The secure attachment style is characterized by an emotionally available mother and a typically easy-to-handle child.

These mothers respond quickly to their children’s needs and are consistently available to them.

This allows the children in this category to use their mothers as a secure base, leading them to cry less and be easier to satisfy.

The second type of attachment identified by Ainsworth is ambivalent attachment, which involves very needy children who panic when their mothers are not around.

The parenting style of these mothers is usually unpredictable; they may be very attentive some days but neglectful on other days.

This can often lead to more crying from the child and difficulty for the mother calming them down again afterwards.

Finally, there is avoidant attachment; characterized by an inconsistent relationship between mother and child, with little interaction between them overall.

Here, the mother tends to encourage too much independence from her child and does not appreciated neediness or clinginess from her offspring.

An avoidantly attached child may ignore their mother at times yet get angry for apparently no reason .

It’s important to note that regardless of which style a person falls under as a child, they tend to maintain it as they grow up into adulthood.

How To Determine Someone’S Attachment Style With The Strange Situation And Berkeley Adult Attachment Interview

Adult Attachment

We can assess someone’s attachment style by examining either an adult or a child.

For children, Ainsworth developed something called the Strange Situation to observe how kids reacted in an unfamiliar environment.

It was conducted in a playroom with their mother being their secure base and then exiting the room after a stranger entered.

The differently attached children reacted very differently; the securely attached ones were happy to see their mothers return while ambivalently-attached children became more distressed and avoidantly-attached ones simply ignored them completely.

When it comes to assessing adults, this can be done through The Berkeley Adult Attachment Interview, which contains questions about things like family situation, feelings towards parents and painful childhood memories in order to better understand their past relationship with their mother or parents.

Since an individual’s attachment style is often passed on to his/her own children, understanding this helps us become better parents as well.

How Improving Parental Education Can Lead To Secure Attachment With Children

Parental behavior has a great impact on the attachment style of a child.

Studies have shown that the attachment style adults had with their own parents is a very good predictor of what style they’ll have with their own children.

In one study, researchers used the Adult Attachment Interview to gauge expecting mothers and accurately predict what kind of attachment style they would have with their children 75% of the time!

It’s important to note that there’s always room for improvement when parenting.

Through proper resources such as free counseling sessions, it can make a huge difference in how a parent and child bond.

One research team examined a large group of irritable children born into low-income families, and found that after providing special counseling for half the mothers, 68% of those in counseling were classified as securely attached, compared to just 28% in the control group.

This shows us that parental behavior has an immense influence on the attachment styles of their children, so it’s important to seek out resources if you feel like your relationship could use some improvement.

The Benefits Of High-Quality Day Care: Debunking The Myth That It Is Inherently Harmful To Children

There is much debate about the best way to raise children, but day care in early infancy is not necessarily harmful.

In fact, it can be beneficial if done in a high-quality environment.

Opponents of day care were largely speaking out against the woman’s movement prior to this need arising.

Some studies showed that, in low-quality community care centers, anxiety and aggression were exhibited by their youngest inhabitants; and there had been evidence showing that children should ideally be raised with only one attachment figure: their mother.

However, these concerns are addressed by advocates of day care who demonstrate it is not the daycare itself that causes problems for some children – instead, parental stress or pressure to put the child into daycare can contribute.

Furthermore, when caregivers are able to build healthy and reliable relationships with their charges despite any home stressors, then there shouldn’t be cause for concern over adverse effects from early daycare.

Understanding Yourself Is Essential For Effective Parenting

Effective Parenting

Becoming Attached, a book about parenting, makes the point that parents’ interaction with their children is often affected by their attempt to deal with their own childhood.

This can be seen in the words of one expectant mother interviewed for the book’s research – she expressed that she had already thought about how she would control her baby, even though she had struggled against her own mother controlling her as a child.

This indicates that parents tend to repeat the same mistakes as their own parents, despite declaring never to do so when expecting a child.

This could be attributed to the fact that many people don’t reflect on why they were unsatisfied with their own upbringing and thus repeat the same mistakes without conscious realization.

Parenting entails teaching children how to navigate and understand life without relying on them; however, it can be difficult for parents who are unable to understand their own emotions in order to guide their children in doing so.

Thus, truly great parenting starts first with reflection on one’s past experiences and understanding of oneself before attempting parent another human being.

Wrap Up

The final message of Becoming Attached is clear: strong connections with a mother or other primary caregiver can have a major impact on a child’s development into adulthood.

It’s important to be consistent and reliable, and provide a safe environment for your children to learn right from wrong and explore the world.

Ultimately, having secure attachments helps kids build trust in their relationships so they can later develop emotional resilience in times of adversity.

Taking good care of these connections now will help them grow up to handle problems better in their future – that’s the real summary at the end of this book.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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