Relationships Quick Answers
Can infants whose parents are divorced form secure attachment relationships with both parents?
Yes, infants and toddlers can have secure attachments with both parents even though both parents don't live in the home. There are several things parents can do to help their infant or toddler develop a secure attachment:
- Respond to your child's needs in predictable, sensitive, and affectionate ways. This is the most important thing a parent can do to help his or her child form a secure attachment. When parents quickly respond to their infants' needs, by picking them up when they want to be held, feeding them when they are hungry, etc., infants learn to trust their parents.
- Give your child enough time with each parent on a regular basis. Frequent contact helps infants and toddlers remember both parents and develop attachment relationships with both parents. When children can't see both of their parents, a friend or relative can be a source of security for the child. Infants can form secure attachments with adults other than their parents.
- Work cooperatively with your child's other parent. When parents cooperate and have less conflict, their child is more likely to develop secure attachment relationships with each parent. Even infants and toddlers are affected by conflict between their parents. They don't understand what the conflicts are about, but they do pick up on the negative emotions.
Source: Kim Leon, Ph.D., Former Human Development and Family Studies, College of Human Environmental Sciences, University of Missouri-Columbia
Last update: Wednesday, August 20, 2008