**Brief apologies for not writing for so long! Every time I thought about writing a blog I felt guilty for not working on actual scientific papers.**
Cogscimotherhood has been super fun! Some of our favorite activities include smashing bananas on our heads, playing a simplified version of hide-n-seek (I only hide in one place), and attacking daddy with tickle monster gloves.
I love cogscibaby with all my heart. But a relationship is a two-way street. My sincere hope is that cogscibaby loves me as well! Not just for warm fuzzy reasons but also for research-based reasons! Many many studies have found that good quality parent-child relationships (“secure attachments”) are predictive of healthy future relationships and positive academic/social outcomes while insecure attachments are often related to negative social outcomes.
For all our fun times, it’s hard to gauge the quality of one’s relationship with a pre-verbal being whose behaviors seem more stochastic than by design. Or is it?
In the 1960-70s, Mary Ainsworth, a collaborator of John Bowlby, developed a tool called the Strange Situation to measure the quality of the attachment relationship between a caregiver and a child. It’s a deceptively simple tool. Basically a child and parent are brought into the laboratory play area where there are toys and a researcher (typically an undergraduate research assistant). Then there is a planned separation where the parent leaves for a few minutes leaving the child with the research assistant. Then the parent comes back. There are some more steps to the Strange Situation, but that’s the basic heart of the tool. Using this simple tool, you can measure very simply whether your child is securely attached to you.
The key is to note the child’s reaction to the planned separation and reunion. Securely attached children are upset when the parent leaves but relieved/recovered at the reunion. Insecurely attached children can have attachments that are “anxious” (upset when parents leave but still upset when they come back) or “avoidant” (indifferent to both separation and reunion).
On Saturday, we went over to a friend’s house and I inadvertently put cogscibaby into a textbook Strange Situation and found… he is securely attached to me! He was upset when I left him to go get something from the car and relieved when I came back! Hip hip hooray!!! I think this is the beginning of a beautiful attachment…