Attachment theory is founded on the idea that an infant’s early relationship with their caregiver is crucial for social and emotional development. It is an old theory, born during the 1950s. But it can bring fresh light on issues of opportunity and equality today, as a three-decade longitudinal study of low-income children from Alan Sroufe, Byron Egeland, Elizabeth Carlson, and W. A. Collins, all University of Minnesota psychologists, demonstrates.
[…]Small infants are heavily dependent on caregivers, who must respond to their needs. But counter-intuitively, the infants who have a reliable caregiver are also most likely to become self-efficacious later.
Infants (aged 9 to 18 months) with responsive parents learn how their own behavior can impact their environment. This “call and response” process builds the infant’s sense of self-efficacy— one reason parents should pick up the sippy cup, especially for the hundredth time! But this virtuous learning cycle breaks down if the caregiver fails to respond adequately.
Here are the definitions:
Secure attachment: When the caregiver (mom, in this study) is present, the infant explores the room and interacts with the experimenter, occasionally returning to the caregiver for support. When the caregiver leaves, the child becomes sad and hesitates to interact with the experimenter, but upon their return, is visibly excited.
Anxious/resistant attachment: Regardless of the caregiver’s presence, the infant shows fear of the experimenter and novel situations—these infants cry more and explore the room less. They become upset when the caregiver leaves, and while they approach upon return often resist physical contact, as a form of “punishment”.
Anxious/avoidant attachment: No preference is shown between a caregiver and a stranger— infants play normally in the presence of the experimenter and show no sign of distress or interest when their caregiver leaves and returns. The experimenter and the caregiver can comfort the infant equally well.
And here the results:
The Minnesota study found that attachment makes a difference later in life. Without knowing students’ attachment history, preschool teachers judged those who had secure attachments to have higher self-esteem, to be more self-reliant, to be better at managing impulses, and to recover more easily from upsetting events. When teachers were asked which students, among those with serious struggles in class, nonetheless had “a core of inner self-worth, an indication that… maybe they could get better,” they picked students that had secure attachments as infants.
In contrast, children with anxious/resistant attachments:
tended to hover near teachers
became easily frustrated
were more likely to be seen as “dependent” by blinded observers
were less competent and patient with puzzles and other cognitive challenges
Children with anxious/avoidant attachments:
tended to be apathetic towards other children
failed to ask for adult help when stressed
were “often self-isolating”
Both groups had higher rates of anxiety and depression as teenagers.
So again, we are seeing that when it comes to parenting, you have to think about what you are doing. That doesn’t mean that you have to be slaves to your kids, or spoil them or hover over them. It means that what you are doing with your kids matters. It means that you need to make a plan to have enough time and money to be able to care for them when they need it. I think that the right time to talk about such things is during the courtship. Who is going to be watching the children? How will we afford the things that they need? How will we deal with unexpected situations?
Recently, an article published in the Wall Street Journal reported on research survey done why a far-left Democrat psychotherapist based in far-left New York City. Surprisingly, her book caused an uproar among the author’s left-wing allies. How come?
Motherhood used to be as American as apple pie. Nowadays it can be as antagonistic as American politics. Ask Erica Komisar.
Ms. Komisar, 53, is a Jewish psychoanalyst who lives and practices on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. If that biographical thumbnail leads you to stereotype her as a political liberal, you’re right. But she tells me she has become “a bit of a pariah” on the left because of the book she published this year, “Being There: Why Prioritizing Motherhood in the First Three Years Matters.”
[…]The premise of Ms. Komisar’s book—backed by research in psychology, neuroscience and epigenetics—is that “mothers are biologically necessary for babies,” and not only for the obvious reasons of pregnancy and birth. “Babies are much more neurologically fragile than we’ve ever understood,” Ms. Komisar says. She cites the view of one neuroscientist, Nim Tottenham of Columbia University, “that babies are born without a central nervous system” and “mothers are the central nervous system to babies,” especially for the first nine months after birth.
What does that mean? “Every time a mother comforts a baby in distress, she’s actually regulating that baby’s emotions from the outside in. After three years, the baby internalizes that ability to regulate their emotions, but not until then.” For that reason, mothers “need to be there as much as possible, both physically and emotionally, for children in the first 1,000 days.”
What’s interesting about this is how the left responds to the science. You might have heard that the left is very fond of science, but veterans of debates about God’s existence know that people on the left tend to be hostile to science that goes against their view: the Big Bang cosmology, cosmic fine-tuning, biological information, irreducible complexity, molecular machines, habitability, etc. And early childhood education is no exception.
Christian radio stations “interviewed me and loved me,” she says. She went on “Fox & Friends,” and “the host was like, your book is the best thing since the invention of the refrigerator.” But “I couldn’t get on NPR,” and “I was rejected wholesale—particularly in New York—by the liberal press.” She did appear on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” but seconds before the camera went live, she says, the interviewer told her: “I don’t believe in the premise of your book at all. I don’t like your book.”
[…]Ms. Komisar tells of hosting a charity gathering for millennials at her apartment. One young woman “asked me what my book was about. I told her, and she got so angry. She almost had fire coming out of her eyes, she was so angry at my message. She said, ‘You are going to set women back 50 years.’ I said, ‘Gosh, I wouldn’t want to do that.’ ”
[…]The needs of children get lost in all this—and Ms. Komisar hears repeatedly that the hostility to her message is born of guilt. When she was shopping for a literary agent, she tells me, “a number of the agents said, ‘No, we couldn’t touch that. That would make women feel guilty.’ ” Another time she was rejected for a speaking gig at a health conference. She quotes the head of the host institution as telling her: “You are going to make women feel badly. How dare you?”
[…]“The thing I dislike the most is day care,” she says. “It’s really not appropriate for children under the age of 3,” because it is “overstimulating” given their neurological undevelopment. She cites the “Strange Situation experiments,” devised in 1969 by developmental psychologist Mary Ainsworth, a pioneer of attachment theory: “A mother and the baby are on the floor playing. The mother gets up and leaves the baby in the room alone. The baby has a separation-anxiety response. A stranger walks in; the baby has a stressed reaction to the stranger.”
[…]Researchers sample the infant’s saliva and test it for cortisol, a hormone associated with stress (and inversely correlated with oxytocin). In a series of such experiments in which Ms. Komisar herself participated, “the levels were so high in the babies that the anticipation was that it would . . . in the end, cause disorders and problems.” In a more recent variant of the experiment, scientists use functional magnetic resonance imaging to look directly at the brain of an infant reacting to photos of the mother and of a stranger.
I spoke to a millennial co-worker in my office who is very proud of his strong feminist views. His wife just had a baby, and they stuck the baby in daycare after 3 months so that she could go back to work. I did speak to him about what the research says (daycare and public school studies are a hobby of mine!), but I try to only disagree with him on one thing at a time, and right now, we’re disagreeing about cohabitation and marital stability. It’s amazing how confident millennials are about taking positions on things like daycare, cohabitation, public schools, etc. without ever having consulted the relevant peer-reviewed science.
Let’s look at one of the studies, to see some evidence.
The UK Telegraph reported on a recent study that measured the brain development of 3-year-old children.
Take a careful look at the image of two brains on this page. The picture is of the brains of two three-year-old children. It’s obvious that the brain on the left is much bigger than the one on the right. The image on the left also has fewer spots, and far fewer dark “fuzzy” areas.
To neurologists who study the brain, and who have worked out how to interpret the images, the difference between these two brains is both remarkable and shocking. The brain on the right lacks some of the most fundamental areas present in the image on the left. Those deficits make it impossible for that child to develop capacities that the child on the left will have: the child on the right will grow into an adult who is less intelligent, less able to empathise with others, more likely to become addicted to drugs and involved in violent crime than the child on the left. The child on the right is much more likely to be unemployed and to be dependent on welfare, and to develop mental and other serious health problems.
[…]The primary cause of the extraordinary difference between the brains of these two three-year-old children is the way they were treated by their mothers. The child with the much more fully developed brain was cherished by its mother, who was constantly and fully responsive to her baby.
The child with the shrivelled brain was neglected and abused. That difference in treatment explains why one child’s brain develops fully, and the other’s does not.
[…]Professor Allan Schore, of UCLA, who has surveyed the scientific literature and has made significant contributions to it, stresses that the growth of brain cells is a “consequence of an infant’s interaction with the main caregiver [usually the mother]”.
The growth of the baby’s brain “literally requires positive interaction between mother and infant. The development of cerebral circuits depends on it.”
Prof Schore points out that if a baby is not treated properly in the first two years of life, the genes for various aspects of brain function, including intelligence, cannot operate, and may not even come into existence. Nature and nurture cannot be disentangled: the genes a baby has will be profoundly affected by the way it is treated.
I always like to consult the findings of science to find out the right way to achieve a goal. This puts off some prospective mates, who want to avoid planning and preparation so they can ride a roller-coaster of emotions and just do whatever they want to be happy in the moment. But in every other area of life, I’ve found that doing things the right way always involves studying and planning, then careful execution of a plan. Nobody passes an exam by going clubbing when they should be studying. Going clubbing is more fun “in the moment”, but studying always gets better results.
In this case, it’s very clear that keeping a mother at home for the first three years of each child would require some earning and saving by me, since men are the principal providers. And I expect that women who are looking for husbands to raise their children with will look for men who have made preparations to give the young children what they need. Not everything a man does is about looks and fun – there are real requirements here. It’s very important for young people to prepare for marriage and raising children by working backward from what the science says about children’s needs.
The more you read about the science, the less wiggle-room there is for feelings. Doing the right thing (saving money for a stay-at-home mom) is hard because it feels bad. But when you inform yourself with science, it makes it easier to override your bad feelings, because you know you’re doing the right thing to achieve a result. If you can’t bring yourself to prepare now to do things right later, then you should read more science, and that might make it easier to do the right thing.
If you were to come across someone who cried in the streets, who saw the world in terms of black and white and made death threats against strangers, who cowered in a special room and made public displays of naked self-harm and blood letting, you might conclude that they were suffering from a personality disorder.
All these symptoms can be found in the High Conflict Personality Disorder category known as Axis II in DSMV, including Anti-Social PD, Histrionic PD, Paranoid PD, Narcissistic PD, and Borderline PD.
[…]In 2014, a survey of 100,000 college students at 53 U.S. campuses by the American College Health Association found that 84% of U.S. students feel unable to cope, while more than half experience overwhelming anxiety.
The problems begin with how the children are raised. As the size and scope of government grew, taxes had to be raised to pay for the “social safety net”. When taxes go up, women can no longer afford to stay home with their young children during the first five years, which are critical to child development. Instead, the moms go out to work to pay for the new social welfare programs. And their children end up in day cares.
The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development has found:
Children in full-time day care were close to three times more likely to show behavior problems than those cared for by their mothers at home.
[…]The more time in child care of any kind or quality, the more aggressive the child.
The result is young people who, a decade and a half after daycare, scream at the parent/State for not protecting them sufficiently. It is no coincidence that “safe spaces” resemble daycare centers.
Day cares cause children to have increased anxiety and aggression. It used to be that this would be mitigated as the child grew up and encountered real life. Their narcissism would die because they would have to accept that they were not the center of the universe. They learned that hard work was not fun, and that they had to do things that they didn’t feel like doing in order to survive. But today, things are different – something else is happening to children in public schools and university classrooms.
Faced with histrionic students, university staff end up behaving like “Helicopter Parents”: those largely absent, full-time working parents who overcompensated by flying in to fuss over their child. Attempting to assuage parental guilt, one of the tools they used was “positive parenting” — a philosophy created by social Progressives.
Parents were taught to not scold or punish, and instead to use “positive reinforcement” in an attempt to raise their children with “high self-esteem.” This ideology also became fashionable within an increasingly progressive school system that awarded children prizes for “non-competitive sports” and for merely taking part in school activities.
As they passed from day care to through high school, these children with artificially enforced high self-esteem were also told that they were morally superior to generations that came before. They were inducted into politically correct language and were even taught to lecture their own parents on racism, equality, and ecology. From the ages of six to eighteen, they took part in yearly multiculturalist “save the planet” projects. They were told they had a heroic destiny as “agents of change.”
A false picture of the world and a vastly inflated sense of self-importance did not compensate for the foundational trauma of parental neglect. Instead, as Dr. Jean Twenge has explained, Positive Parenting created young people with a “narcissistic wound” for whom the real world would be perceived as a threat to self-worth.
And this explains why college students today resort to violence when presented with ideas that they disagree with – even if the people are vastly more intelligent and experienced than they are themselves. They don’t care about free speech, because they already know everything. They claim to care about diversity, but they shout down or assault anyone who disagrees with them.
And that’s not the only contradiction:
SJW protests are awash with contradictions. SJWs claim to fight for freedom, but are opposed to freedom of speech, support banning videos and books, and support the violent disruption of public talks, as was seen with the riots at UC Berkeley, Middlebury College, and elsewhere.
SJWs believe in a world with “no boundaries” where “everyone is equal” — free immigration, open access to healthcare and education, etc. — but at the same time are obsessed with creating segregated spaces.
While they protest against the “fascist patriarchal state” they are, at the same time, fundamentally Statist, demanding that the government police language for them and punish their enemies. While SJWs claim to fight for human rights, they parade the symbol of the largest genocides in history — the Communist flag. They are pro-feminist, and at the same time defend Sharia law.
It’s a mess. People like to joke about the zombie apocalypse, but it’s a joke because there is no such thing as a zombie. Except that when I see what the secular left has produced on college campuses, it really does make me think of zombies. Do you think that people with no marketable skills could resist the urge to steal and kill when they find themselves in debt and unable to earn a living with their degree in Marxist-Feminist Studies? Where would a psychotic millennial draw the line? They don’t understand how successful mature people became successful – they only understand that their own failure is not their fault. It’s all the fault of white males, the patriarchy, straights, capitalists, etc. Where does a deluded secular leftist draw the line on violence? Can you expect moral behavior from someone who doesn’t believe in God, and doesn’t believe in personal responsibility?
I think we are going to see a lot more violence from these young leftist psychopaths – especially from the ones being raised without a married mother and father. I think we’re going to see something to rival the most horrifying of zombie apocalypse movies. There isn’t any foundation of empathy or morality inside them – it was never put into them by their own families or the godless schools.
The Head Start Impact Study. In late 2012, the Department of Health and Human Services released the Head Start Impact Study, a scientifically rigorous evaluation that tracked 5,000 three-year-old and four-year-old children through the end of third grade. The study found little to no impact on the parenting practices or the cognitive, social-emotional, and health outcomes of participants. Notably, on a few measures, access to Head Start had harmful effects on participating children. For both the three-year-old and four-year-old cohorts, access to Head Start had no statistically measurable effects on any measure of cognitive ability, including reading, language, and math. In other words, by the time they finished third grade, there was no difference between those children who attended Head Start and the control group of their peers who did not.
Vanderbilt Tennessee Voluntary Pre-K Study. In 2015, a team of researchers from Vanderbilt University released an evaluation of Tennessee’s Voluntary Pre-K (VPK) Program, a state-subsidized preschool program open to low-income children in the state. Some 18,000 children participate in the program, which was introduced in 1996. Proponents have long claimed Tennessee’s VPK program is a model state-based preschool program, with standards aligned to the Obama Administration’s Preschool for All initiative. Teachers must be licensed, the child-adult ratio is limited to 10:1, and a structured “age-appropriate” curriculum must be used in classrooms. The program is available first to children from low-income Tennessee families, and then, space permitting, to children with special needs and children with limited English proficiency, among other children deemed “at-risk.” An earlier evaluation found that gains made by participating four-year-olds had faded by kindergarten. In a follow-up evaluation released in September 2015, Mark Lipsey, Dale Farrar, and Kerry Hofer reported that there were no sustained benefits for the same children through the end of third grade.
[…]The authors analyzed the VPK program’s impact on children’s math skills, emergent literacy, and language skills, as well as the program’s impact on non-cognitive measures, such as behavior. “By the end of kindergarten, the control children had caught up to the TN-VPK children and there were no longer significant differences between them on any achievement measures. The same result was obtained at the end of first grade using both composite achievement measures.” And notably, by second grade, “the groups began to diverge with the TN-VPK children scoring lower than the control children on most of the measures. The differences were significant on both achievement composite measures and on the math subtests.” “Pre-K was generally thought to be better than Head Start, but that doesn’t seem to be the case in Tennessee,” stated University of California, Berkeley professor David L. Kirp in The New York Times.
The findings of the TN-VPK program were not limited to academic outcomes. As Lipsey et al. explain:
In terms of behavioral effects, in the spring the first grade teachers reversed the fall kindergarten teacher ratings. First grade teachers rated the TN-VPK children as less well prepared for school, having poorer work skills in the classrooms, and feeling more negative about school. It is notable that these ratings preceded the downward achievement trend we found for VPK children in second and third grades.
Quebec’s Negative Non-cognitive Results. The province of Quebec introduced universal low-cost day care for children through age four beginning in 1997. The program has had a large impact: privately funded child care arrangements have almost disappeared, and Quebec has the highest rate of subsidized child care in Canada, at 58 percent in 2011. The program caused a 14.5 percent increase in the share of mothers of young children working outside the home. The Quebec experience offers more guidance for the potential introduction of universal child care than small, targeted programs, because it implicitly includes indirect effects on non-participants and any general equilibrium effects due to the drastic shift in the way child care was funded and conducted.
Regrettably, new research has found that children who became eligible for the program in Quebec were more anxious as children and have committed more crimes as teenagers. The availability of day care clearly worsened children’s non-cognitive “soft” skills.
Michael Baker, Jonathan Gruber, and Kevin Milligan found that children exposed to the program were 4.6 percent more likely to be convicted of a crime and 17 percent more likely to commit a drug crime. Their health and life satisfaction were worse.
The programs are sold as a way of improving children’s abilities, but the studies show that it doesn’t work that way. So why do we have these programs?
Democrats like these programs because they transfer wealth from taxpayers to government, hire more government workers, and get children away from the “harmful” influence of their parents. It allows the government workers to push the agenda of the wealthy donors who back the Democrat politicians, e.g. – the abortion providers, the gay rights activists, the terrorism apologists, the global warming alarmists, the radical feminists, the socialist wealth redistributors, etc.
State investments in center-based school readiness programs for preschoolers (pre-K), whether targeted for poor children or universally implemented, have expanded more rapidly than evaluations of their effects. Given the current interest and continuing expansion of state funded pre-K, it is especially important to be clear about the nature of the available evidence for the effectiveness of such programs. Despite widespread claims about proven benefits from pre-K, there is actually strikingly little credible research about the effectiveness of public pre-K programs scaled for statewide implementation.
Like many states that became interested in scaling up a state funded pre-K program in the early 2000’s, voluntary pre-K (TNVPK) was introduced in Tennessee in 1996 as a way to provide academic enhancement to economically disadvantaged children. It expanded in 2005 to an $85 million-plus statewide investment serving 18,000 Tennessee income-eligible children in 935 classrooms across all 95 counties.
Launched in 2009, the TNVPK Effectiveness Study, a coordinated effort between Vanderbilt’s Peabody Research Institute and the Tennessee Department of Education, is a five-year evaluation study funded by the US Department of Education, Institute for Education Sciences. It includes the first randomized control trial of a scaled up state funded pre-K program and the first well-controlled comparison group study of the effects of program participation as children progress through elementary school..
Policymakers and proponents often cite some of the famous early studies of pre-K programs that have shown long term benefits extending into adulthood for the participating children. But those were studies of especially complex programs that are unlike scaled-up public pre-K in many ways. The Vanderbilt study is the first rigorous controlled longitudinal study to be conducted on a large-scale state-funded pre-K program.
And here is a summary of the results:
Standard score results from pre-K through 3rd grade on a composite measure that averaged the six achievement subtests are presented from baseline forward in the graph below.
As is evident, pre-K and control children started the pre-K year at virtually identical levels. The TNVPK children were substantially ahead of the control group children at the end of the pre-K year (age 5 in the graph). By the end of kindergarten (age 6 in the graph), the control children had caught up to the TNVPK children, and there were no longer significant differences between them on any achievement measures. The same result was obtained at the end of first grade using two composite achievement measures (the second created with the addition of two more WJIII subtests appropriate for the later grades). In second grade, however, the groups began to diverge with the TNVPK children scoring lower than the control children on most of the measures. The differences were significant on both achievement composite measures and on the math subtests. Differences favoring the control persisted through the end of third grade.
In terms of behavioral effects, in the spring the first grade teachers reversed the fall kindergarten teacher ratings. First grade teachers rated the TNVPK children as less well prepared for school, having poorer work skills in the classrooms, and feeling more negative about school. It is notable that these ratings preceded the downward achievement trend we found for VPK children in second and third grades. The second and third grade teachers rated the behaviors and feelings of children in the two groups as the same; there was a small positive finding for peer relations favoring the TNVPK children by third grade teachers, which did not meet traditional levels of statistical significance.
We are already seeing that cheap daycare in high-tax, big government provinces like Quebec cost a lot, and produce negative results. And of course Hillary Clinton is a longstanding advocate of universal pre-K. As a Senator of New York, she introduced a universal pre-K plan that would cost $10 billion over 5 years. President Barack Obama’s own Preschool for All plan would cost $75 billion over 10 years. This Vanderbilt study should cause us to question whether the policies of the secular left, pushed largely because of emotions and ideology, are worth the tens of billions of dollars they want to take from us. And if you take tens of billions of dollars out of families, then families on the margin will have to give their children to the state to raise. And that includes Christian families, who would no longer be able to afford a stay-at-home mother.
Now, taking children away from parents so that their mothers can work is seen as a worthy goal by those on the secular left. First, communally raising the children is “good” because it removes inequalities between single mothers and traditional working-husband homes. Second, making it easier for women to “go fatherless” is “good” because fathers are not to be trusted to teach their children about morality and religion. That is best left to secular government workers. Third, mothers who choose to marry good providers pay less in taxes if they choose to stay home with their kids and not work. That is “bad” because the government wants more taxes, so they can spend it on vote-buying social programs. Fourth, children who form stable bonds with their parents are less likely to become dependent on the government, meaning their allegiance cannot be bought with government handouts. That is also “bad”. Fifth, it is also “bad” that children who grow up with stay-at-home mothers are more likely to develop empathy and morality, which gives them an independent standard by which to judge the government’s actions.