UK Family Law Reform

Free information index

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Sunday, April 20, 2014 11:13 AM
Subject: Re: Response to your enquiry

Hi Laura,

Thank you for sending me a copy of the Baby Bonds study. I note the rate of 40% of infants lacking secure attachments comes from assessing the infant with one parent (usually the mother) & that when researchers study the baby with the other parent, they find a similar rate of insecure attachment. What is important is that the two rates are independent so that an infant is as likely to be secure with mom and insecure with dad, as the other way around. Thus, if the child is being raised by both parents, the rate of having an insecure attachment to both is only 16%. The study points out that having at least one secure attachment is protective. So when cared for by two parents, only 16% of babies will not have a secure attachment, but when cared for by only one parent, 40% of babies will not have a secure attachment. This is an argument for giving babies the opportunity to form meaningful relationships with both parents.

According to Rutter the first few years have a special significance for 'bond formation & social development'. By seeking to exclude or limit contact with fathers to a meaningless level whether wittingly or unwittingly this 'interpretation of the law' by the UK family courts is really damaging the welfare of children by ignoring the contribution both parents make to the psychological and sociological well being of the child especially in early life.

Kruk’s findings show a child must spend at least 40% of his time with a parent to establish and maintain a beneficial attachment & the Warshak study says shared parenting should be the norm for children of all ages but there is no research used to train judges in relation to deciding on how much contact a none resident parent needs to have with their children after parental separation or divorce to ensure their long term relationship is sustainable & CafCass has no guidelines or training either on how much contact they should recommend in what kind of case.

Best regards Dave

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, March 25, 2014 1:56 PM
Subject: baby Bonds

Dear David

Here is the full report, which is a review of existing evidence.

Kind regards


----- Original Message -----
Sent: Monday, March 24, 2014 12:41 PM
Subject: Further information

Dear Mr Mortimer

As I thought, I have checked with the authors of the report and there was not a specific breakdown on children from broken homes.

Kind regards

Laura Barbour

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Monday, March 24, 2014 10:48 AM
Subject: Response to your enquiry

Dear Mr Mortimer

Thank you for contacting us in response to the report, Baby Bonds. I will check with the report authors if we have the details regarding a percentage of children from “broken homes” and get back to you. I am not aware that we do.

The report does not specifically address the link between secure attachment and children being put into care. However the theory is that by supporting at risk parents to break the cycle of insecure attachment (that they are likely to have experienced themselves) they will have a better chance of being able to provide a responsive and caring relationship with their child which would make it less likely that their child would need to be taken into care for its own best welfare.

You may be interested to look into an intervention “Parenting under pressure” which is currently being trialled by the NSPCC, which particularly looks at supporting parents (ante natally and once the baby is born) whose babies are at risk of being taken into care because of the vulnerable nature of the parents. The intervention aims to support parents, both mothers and fathers to have the best chance at forming a secure attachment with their child by helping them to build parenting skills and develop safe, caring relationships with their babies.


Laura Barbour

Four in ten children fail to connect with mum and dad: Poor parenting in first three years can hold children back at school and cause behavioural problems

As many as four in ten young children have such a weak bond with their parents they are unable to tell them they are upset, new research shows
This puts them at risk of problems including obesity and delayed speech

Poor parenting in the first three years of life can hold children back at school and lead to behaviour problems such as hyperactivity
By Laura Clark

As many as four in ten young children have such a weak bond with their parents they are unable to tell them they are upset, new research found today.

Poor parenting in the first three years of life can hold children back at school and lead to behaviour problems such as hyperactivity.

Four in ten youngsters have failed to develop strong bonds with their parents, the research said, putting them at greater risk of a range of problems including obesity and delayed speech.

These children are split into those who learn to avoid their parents because their distress is ignored and those who learn to actively resist their mothers or fathers because they respond harshly or unpredictably.

The findings came in research by academics in Britain and the United States on behalf of the Sutton Trust, a charity promoting social mobility.

The researchers are now calling for children’s centres and health visitors to do more to improve parenting, including through the use of video feedback.

The research reviewed international studies to determine the long-term effects on young children of failing to develop so-called ‘secure attachments’ with their parents.

Studies in North America and Europe suggest that around 40 per cent of children fail to develop strong attachments to their parents. One paper found that among lower income toddlers, the figure rises to 46 per cent.

Those who fail to develop strong attachments are split into 25 per cent who avoid their parents when they are upset because the parent ignores their needs and 15 per cent who learn to resist their mother or father because the parent makes them feel more distressed.

The research, by academics at the London School of Economics and Bristol University, as well as Columbia and Princeton universities in the US, found that children aged under three who are unable to form strong bonds with their mother or father are more likely to display aggression, defiance and hyperactivity when they are older.

Boys’ behaviour is more affected than girls’ by early parenting.

There are also effects on language development and aspects of brainpower such as working memory. Children from families where attachment is weak are more likely to show poor language skills at three and perform worse in cognitive tasks.

Where mothers have weak bonds with their babies, research also suggests their children are more likely to be obese as they enter adolescence.

The effects continue into later life, with insecure children more likely to leave school without further education, employment or training.

Parents who find it hardest to bond with their babies tend to be insecurely attached to their own parents.

They also at greater risk if they suffer mental health problems, live in poverty or are young parents.

Co-author Jane Waldfogel, professor of social work and public affairs at Columbia University and a visiting professor at LSE, said: ‘Parents are an important influence on young children’s development and their chances in life.

‘Mothers and fathers influence development through the resources they invest in their children, and the home learning environment they offer.

‘But the emotional bonds they forge with their childen also matter. A secure bond or attachment to the parent helps the child manage their behaviour and learn.’

The researchers found that simple, often instinctive, actions such as holding a baby lovingly and responding to their needs are key to developing strong attachments, along with acknowledging a baby’s unhappiness with facial expressions and then reassuring them with smiles and soothing tones.

Conor Ryan, director of research at the Sutton Trust said: ‘Better bonding between parents and babies could lead to more social mobility, as there is such a clear link to education, behaviour and future employment. The educational divide emerges early in life, with a 19 month school readiness gap between the most and least advantaged children by the age of five.

‘This report clearly identifies the fundamental role secure attachment could have in narrowing that school readiness gap and improving children’s life chances. More support from health visitors, children’s centres and local authorities in helping parents improve how they bond with young children could play a role in narrowing the education gap.’