2015 Attachment Parenting Month Research

October 2015 Attachment Parenting Month

Parental Presence: Birthing Families, Strengthening Society

Attachment Parenting International advocates knowledge and practices that value and maximize parental leave, recognizing parental presence with a child fosters early secure attachment and benefits families, businesses, and societies

Parental leave is an issue that touches the majority of adults around the world as parents are commonly employed outside of the home. Many countries have implemented national policies that prioritize and value the unique and irretrievable impact that parents have in the early years of their child’s development. The collective international policies represent a global consensus that the U.S. has not yet considered on a national level.

Only very recently, a few U.S. city and state governments have offered forms of parental leave.  The media has been tracking high-profile businesses that have been initiating their own parental leave policies.  While the U.S. Federal government offers its own employee benefits, there is not yet a national policy providing these benefits to all U.S. parents.  

Momentum is growing for parental leave in the U.S. and we have the benefit of a wealth of examples and longitudinal research provided by initiatives in other countries.  All of this experience and research, including of  U.S. economic research, complements the findings of decades of attachment research.

The U.S. workplace culture, and that of many other countries, is such that even parents and decision makers who recognize the benefits of parental leave may still experience one or more of these pervasive cultural barriers or responses:  

Businesses offering or contemplating offering parental leave may experience real or perceived fears of:

  • Loss from temporary slow down/loss of valuable employees, skills, functions;
  • Competitive disadvantage; and
  • Higher costs, lost opportunities, and lost profitability.

Employees taking or contemplating taking parental leave may experience real or perceived fears of:

  • Outright job loss;
  • Inability to afford unpaid leave or severe financial difficulty;
  • Inability to tolerate potential lower status and/or pay; and
  • Reduced earnings trajectory over time (work-cultural stigma).

Additional factors that can present barriers to parental leave may include:

  • Societal and cultural norms do not support and sometimes undermine leave;
  • Loss and risk aversion are well-known cognitive heuristics impact leave decisions;
  • Our nation and economy differ in significant cultural, political, economic and philosophical ways from other advanced nations that offer generous leave. The translation of other successes is not always clear for US business and policy decision makers; and
  • Time-frames and incentives may be mismatched if leave decisions produce “fuzzy,” long-run results when policy makers and businesses seek clear impact over shorter time-horizons.

Moving beyond these self-reinforcing fears will require more parents, employers and governments step up to “be the change.” These pioneers and would-be pioneers require support and a broad groundswell of advocacy to stand behind them and propose the policies that all U.S. families deserve.

For more than 20 years, Attachment Parenting International has been working to spread the knowledge that early secure attachment and consistent and loving care are vital to infant development and wellbeing. API not only brings this research to families, communities, and professionals, but has also developed a system of Principles and accredited networks of local, personal support that helps sustain healthy parenting and care practices.

API’s Role in Parental Leave

  • Promoting the benefits of parental presence, attachment, and parenting particularly after birth and the early, formative years.
  • Continued work toward raising up the socially important, economically valuable role of the parents in child mental health and development.
  • Continued direct parent support around choices that favor healthy, close parent-child relationships.
  • Support parental goals toward long-run workplace change that benefit parents, children and family well-being as critical to societal success.

Support for parents who do not have access to parental leave

API’s Eight Principles of Parenting provide support for parents in a number of ways to help provide healthy parent-child relationships especially when parent-child time is limited. These supports might include the following practices:

  • Feed with love and respect. API supports parents in establishing and maintaining breastfeeding, pumping and evening reunions that support these practices in feeding and closeness as well as rest for the parents.
  • Use Nurturing Touch.  API supports parents in healthy and affectionate touching, holding, cuddling and even carrying their young children in soft carriers as a way to regularly reconnect after being apart.
  • Ensure safe sleep physically and emotionally. API supports parents in healthy and safe ways to satisfy both the parent needs for required rest and their young child’s needs for closeness and reconnection after being apart. Safety is paramount.
  • Provide consistent loving care. API supports parents in considerations for providing a healthy caregiving experience for their young children.
  • Strive for balance in personal and family life. API supports parents in considering the multiple ways parents can maintain and restore personal and family equilibrium through the many changes of childhood. Parents are supported in any general emotional experience that may result from being apart from their children sooner, earlier or more than desired.

Support for parents who have access to parental leave

API’s Eight Principles of Parenting provide support for parents in a number of ways to help provide healthy parent-child relationships in situations where parent-child time must transition, even when it’s maximized. These supports might include the following practices:

  • Feed with love and respect. API supports parents in establishing and maintaining a variety of strategies in response to changing parent and child needs around breastfeeding, pumping, feeding over time and the relationship with feeding and parent-child reunions.
  • Use Nurturing Touch.  API supports parents in healthy and affectionate touching, holding, cuddling and even carrying their young children in soft carriers as a normative way to be together as well as a way to satisfy reconnection needs after being apart.
  • Ensure safe sleep physically and emotionally. API supports parents in healthy and safe ways to satisfy both the parent needs for required rest and their young child’s needs for closeness and reconnection after being apart. Safety is paramount.
  • Provide consistent loving care. API supports parents in considerations for providing a healthy caregiving experience for their young children and support for transitions to non-parental care.
  • Strive for balance in personal and family life. API supports parents in considering the multiple ways parents can maintain and restore personal and family equilibrium through the many changes of childhood and the parent work status. Parents are supported in any general emotional experience that may result from being apart from their children sooner, earlier or more than desired.  Parents are supported in any general emotions around the differences in the pace of life and competencies that may exist between career and 24/7 parenting.

Selected Research

U.S. Paid Family Leave Versus The Rest Of The World, In 2 Disturbing Charts

California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island, have implemented paid family leave programs.

  • Evidence from the first two states shows that they haven’t hurt employers.
  • About 90 percent of California businesses say that it either had a positive impact or none on profitability, employee performance, and productivity, while it helped reduce turnover, saving them an estimated $89 million each year.
  • The majority of New Jersey businesses surveyed also said that it hasn’t hurt their finances and some saw a benefit.

Early Maternal Time Investment and Early Child Outcomes

http://ftp.iza.org/dp8608.pdf

ED Bono, M Francesconi – 2014 – papers.ssrn.com

  • There are only a few recent studies that bring parental time right back into the research agenda on early child outcomes.
  • Many studies stress the importance of maternal time in shaping early child outcomes. But very few analyze the direct effect of time inputs on human capital production.
  • Maternal time inputs have a noticeable influence on early child development and mothers are likely to change time investments over the early years of life of their children in response to earlier outcomes.
  • There is evidence that early time investments are more productive than later time investments.
  • The effect of nonmaternal child care is generally small and insignificant,
  • Much of the evidence discussed in Blau and Currie (2006) indicates that the effect of non-parental child care is generally insignificant, and sometimes wrong-signed (see also the more recent studies by Bernal [2008] and Bernal and Keane [2010])

The Economics of Human Development and Social Mobility

www.nber.org/papers/w19925 National Bureau of Economic Research by JJ Heckman ‎2014 –

  • Mentoring, parenting, and attachment are essential features of successful families and interventions to shape skills at all stages of childhood.

Parents’ employment and children’s wellbeing.

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/…National Center for Biotechnology Information by CJ Heinrich – ‎2014

  • Parents’ (and especially mothers’) work, writes Carolyn Heinrich, is not unambiguously beneficial for their children.

[PDF] Early parental time investments in children’s human capital development: effects of time in the first year on cognitive and non-cognitive outcomes

MJ Neidell – University of California, Los Angeles, 2000 – Citeseer

  • Previous research looking at the effect of early parental employment on children has mainly focused on short-term cognitive measures and has not adequately captured the heterogeneity of the caregivers and children
  • Most research has focused on short-term cognitive outcomes, but neuropsychology suggests a permanent impact on social and emotional development. Social and emotional skills, or more generally noncognitive skills, are important components of human capital. They are crucial determinants of an individual’s general well-being as well as performance in school or the labor force.
  • Overall, … uninterrupted parental time investments up to one year would offer lasting benefits
  • The results are fairly consistent with neuropsychological evidence on the development of the brain and the role of attachment. Positive effects are found for mothers investing up to one year of uninterrupted time, which corresponds with a major developmental milestone for an infant: the maturation of the orbitofrontal cortex. Full-time investments tend to display stronger effects during the first year than when they include part-time investments, supporting the need for an uninterrupted investment as called for by attachment theory. [emphasis added]
  • The importance of improved self-confidence cannot be understated. Self-esteem is widely considered to be one of the most, if not the single most, important characteristic of an individual….
  • It is represented that…parental time investments during the first year have a significant and lasting positive impact on the child’s non-cognitive development and there is a potential lifetime (and beyond) for these returns to accrue.

Collection of U.S. Parental Leave Facts:

Unpaid leave

  • The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) only guarantees 12 weeks of unpaid time off within one year of a child’s birth.
  • Small businesses with less than 50 employees are exempt from FMLA. (These employees approximate 30% of the work force.) 
  • FMLA is not a viable option for the lowest quartile of wage workers
  • Less than half of all workers are covered by unpaid leave, giving them few options when they have a new child.
    • A quarter of women either quit their jobs or are let go when a new child arrives,
    • and of those who get only partial pay or nothing at all,
      • a third borrow money and/or dip into savings while
      • 15 percent go on public assistance.

Paid leave

  • Only 30% US employers offer paid maternity leave
  • Less than 20% of US employers offer paid paternity leave
  • Just 12% of workers in the United States private sector have access to paid family leave, according to the Department of Labor.
  • For blue-collar workers in most companies, leave is even less common. Netflix, for instance, did not give its leave to hourly workers.
  • Only 5% of private sector workers earning in the lowest quartile of wages has access to paid family leave from their employers.

References

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/making-sense/working-mom-employers-unpaid-family-leave-policy/http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/02/upshot/big-leaps-for-parental-leave-if-workers-actually-follow-through.html?_r=1

http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2014/07/30/3465922/paid-family-leave/

http://citylimits.org/2015/05/19/report-lack-of-parental-leave-has-deep-effects-on-families/

http://www.nationalpartnership.org/research-library/work-family/expecting-better-2014.pdf

http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/6950998?utm_hp_ref=tw

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/22/upshot/a-federal-policy-on-paid-leave-suddenly-seems-plausible.html?_r=0

http://www.leavenetwork.org/

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/making-sense/how-paid-parental-leave-helps/

http://www.cepr.net/publications/reports/plp

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/01/upshot/the-economic-benefits-of-paid-parental-leave.html?_r=0

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/12/12/among-38-nations-u-s-is-the-holdout-when-it-comes-to-offering-paid-parental-leave/

http://www.child-encyclopedia.com/parental-leave/according-experts/effects-parental-employment-and-parental-leave-child-health-and

[PDF]RCUK Briefing on Maternity, Paternity and Adoption Leave …

[PDF]Maternity, paternity and parental leave: Data related to …

Parental Leave Policy | The Office of Biomedical Research …

Parental Leave research design and data – School of …

Center for Parental Leave Leadership – Maternity & Paternity …

Research – Center for Parental Leave Leadership

Parental leave – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Supportive Blog Posts

Why Synchronize and Bond With Your Children

Raising a Baby Well: Like Climbing Mount Everest

How Modern Societies Violate Human Development

Five Things NOT to Do to Babies

Love Starts With Babies

Ten Things Everyone Should Know About Babies

Why Breastfeed? Build a Better Brain

Breastfeeding: What Is It Good For?