Understanding Attachment and Attachment Disorders: Theory, Evidence, and Practice

By Vivien Prior; Danya Glaser | Go to book overview

4
What are the Factors
Influencing Attachment
Organisation (and
Disorganisation)?

The contribution of caregiving to attachment
organisation

What is caregiving?

Late in his work, Bowlby used the term 'caregiving' specifically to describe the caregiver behaviour which is complementary to the child's attachment behaviour. Caregiving, in its pure form, consists of providing protection and comfort so as to deactivate the need for attachment behaviour and restore the threatened person to equanimity and a sense of security. Caregiving is one component of parenting. Other components are, for example, feeding, teaching and playing. In Bowlby's words, however, the 'shared dyadic programme' given 'top priority' is one of attachment–caregiving (1969/1982, p.378).

Whereas the attachment behavioural system in the child functions to receive protection, the caregiving behavioural system functions to provide protection and thereby, in the parent–child relationship, promote the survival of the child.

Bowlby viewed parenting behaviour, like attachment behaviour, as to some degree pre-programmed with learned detail and thus, in its individual expression, influenced by the parent's own experience:

Parenting behavior in humans is certainly not the product of some
unvarying parenting instinct, but nor is it reasonable to regard it merely as
the product of learning. Parenting behavior has strong biological roots,

-38-

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