Caregiver’s “Internal Working Models”

The section in the book(7th ed) is called, “parent’s internal working models”.   To Quote, the conclusion is that: “…the way we view our childhoods- our ability to come to terms with negative events, to integrate new information into our working models, and to look back on our own parents in an understanding, forgiving way- is much more influential in how we rear our children than the actual history of care we received…”

To understand this we can analyze the pre-existing conditions in a parent that would cause them to relate to their past in this sort of way.  Assuming they have a less than optimal childhood(everyone’s childhood is less than optimal in some way or other), they must be able to consciously reflect on their implicit working model which developed as a result of their childhood, and then cognitively mediate their experiences, emotions, conclusions and expectations in such a way that one can accept the past, forgive those “responsible”(including themselves) and move on.

This seems to me to require a very proactive, and rational individual from the get-go.   In addition, given the pervasive and stable nature of implicit attitudes, I would say that this also requires an extreme amount of conscious effort, or at least an environment and life experiences(including relationship experiences) that are conducive to the creation or modification of implicit attitudes, which would probably require conscious effort to seek these types of environments and experiences.

An additional observation:  I believe that the attitude expressed in my first paragraph can only be obtained *after* becoming a parent.   I would like to point out that in this section(of the book) parent’s internal working models were evaluated, and then correlated with their children’s type of attachment.  I assume that they did not evaluate these same parents before they became pregnant.  I would assume that they would haved since they knew they were prospective parents.   This seems intuitive since, 9 months is a long time to think about one’s own childhood and parenting styles.  In addition, after the baby is born, there is approximately from birth to 6 weeks, where the baby is physically present, which adds urgency to decisions regarding parental attitudes, and 6 weeks to 6 months(pre-attachment- to attachment in the making) when the new parents discover how difficult it is to take care of an infant and can change and modify their styles and techniques without a significant lasting effect on the child’s attachment style.  I see this as a time that is instrumental in giving a caregiver a new point of view, that puts their own childhood and parent’s actions into a perspective, that is conducive to recognizing that your own parents weren’t perfect, and forgiving their mistakes in light of the monumental task of raising a human which looms before these new parents.

To conclude:  the process and time leading up to birth and 6 months after birth may be instrumental in changing a caregiver’s previous attitudes about child rearing(those attitudes developed before they are in the front seat, so to speak) to attitudes of a more understanding and forgiving nature, and time to “figure out”   good techniques for raising a secure child.

Stuart Walker

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~ by havok43v3r on September 29, 2009.

One Response to “Caregiver’s “Internal Working Models””

  1. As much as your concerns may be relevant, they are very complicated and unknowing for many infant parents. A much easier step is simply to recommend therapy, however, I do understand this may not be simple to initiate, but once the future or current parent begins therapy, it will be much easier to change their attitudes, behaviors, or overall understanding of how to want to be a parent.

    Reuben Cousin

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