Attachments and Sex Roles in Children

An important factor involved in the formation of attachments appears to be that the child realises that objects exist when he can no longer see them. Up to the age of 6 months or so when an object drops out of the sight of an infant he makes no attempts to look for it.
By the age of 8 or 9 months a child will look to see what has happened to the toy that has fallen out of his sight and (s)he will realise that the toy that is covered by a cloth is still really there and has not ceased to exist. This marks an important stage in development and is called object conservation or object permanence (Piaget).
In the past the concept of maternal deprivation has been held to be the cause of several conditions such as mental sub normality, delinquency, depression, dwarfism, lack of language and intellectual development, acute distress and affectionless psychopathy (an inability to feel much emotion for anybody else and a lack of interest in anybody else’s welfare). Bowlby’s basic claim was that maternal deprivation might have grave and far-reaching effects on a child’s personality. From the mid 1940s to the mid 1970s emphasis was placed on the need for a secure mother-child relationship if children are not to suffer long-term problems.

Chibucos and Kail (1981) identified three factors which appear to determine the intensity of the father’s attachment to his child. These were:
• the father’s sensitivity to the baby’s signals
• his playfullness with the baby
• the amount of time he spends in face-to-face interaction with the baby.
Their findings are very similar which must bring us to question whether the nature of the mother-child relationship and the father-child relationship are really all that different.
Most research has found consistent and striking differences between mother-child and father-child interaction. For example, they have found that: Mothers tend to hold their children more; smile at their children more; display more affection; and carry out more...