By Sean C. Sobottka, Esq., Attorney/Principal
A recent study, "Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing," examined 5,000 children and their parents. Researchers interviewed parents and examined children across three ages: birth, one-year-old, and three-years-old. In short, the study concluded that children who had one overnight per week away from their mothers were more likely to have insecure attachments with their mothers compared to those children who had fewer overnights or who only saw their fathers only during the day.
“Attachments are defined as an enduring, deep, emotional connection between an infant and caregiver that develops within the child’s first year of life,” said Samantha Tornello, the study’s lead author and a Ph.D. candidate in psychology at the University of Virginia. Children in the first years of their lives need to have a secure attachment with a primary caregiver. These attachments lay the groundwork for healthy relationships later in life, even through adulthood.
The study found that younger children are more likely to suffer from these insecure attachments than older children. For children who had at least one overnight away from their mothers per week, 43% of one-year-olds had insecure attachments to their mothers. Three-year-olds were also more likely to have insecure attachments, but the findings were not statistically reliable. In conclusion, the study goes suggests that it may be appropriate to step-up visitations so that overnights are not integrated until children get older.
The study raises additional questions about children’s attachments. For instance, it did not distinguish between children whose primary caregiver was their mother versus those whose primary caregivers were their fathers. Nor did it comment on the attachments of children who only spent one night away versus children who split their time evenly with both parents. Additional comparisons should be made comparing the attachments of children whose parents live together versus those who live apart.
While the study examined a very important issue, raised some questions, and left some very important ones unanswered, it does confirm that custody matter are rarely “easy.” Many factors need to be accounted for when child custody decisions are made. Judicial officers are often called on to make crucial decisions based on limited information.
As a loving parent, you need an attorney, who is equally knowledgeable about the law and the specifics of your individual case. You need an attorney to advocate for your rights and help you get the most favorable custody orders, particularly as these orders will have such a lasting effect on you, your children, and your family. For a free consultation on your child custody matter, please contact the Law Office of Sean C. Sobottka: 310.735.9814 or mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.