NUMBER 72 • 23 JULY 2002 • SIGNIFICANT ADULTS
INDEX OF QUOTES
The concept of maternal deprivation was brought to public attention by Bowlby (1953, 1973), an author well-known to you all. He included a wide range of reactions to separation and loss under the term "maternal deprivation". (One major consequence of Bowlby’s influence on child rearing was the improvement in the institutional care of children).
One of the world’s leading authorities on separation and loss in the lives of children has challenged Bowlby’s identification of the mother as the only or predominant object for the child’s bonding needs. Rutter (1972) emphasises the significance of disruption in the bonding process rather than the adult with whom the child bonds. He considers that the bond between mother and infant is not qualitatively or innately different from bonding between the infant and other significant adult figures — hence for instance the present-day recognition and appreciation of the role of the father in the overall development of his child.
Rutter argues that it is the culturally determined centrality of the mother that has given the false impression that the mother-infant bond is unique. He revolutionises our thinking on bonding and allocates a prominent privilege and responsibility to you as child care workers, by stating: "The chief bond need not be with a biological parent; it need not be with the chief caretaker, and it need not be with a female." Rutter, furthermore, is of the opinion that the term deprivation (meaning "dispossession" or "loss") is misleading. He suggests that the damage to the child comes from a lack or distortion or interruption of care, and he pleads for centrality and stability of adult figures in the lives of children.
The provision of emotional care remains your primary function in respect of the adult of tomorrow. I applaud the frequent goal-directed and experiential learning opportunities your Association provides so as to ensure the emotional nurturance and accompaniment of children in children’s homes. However, I share with you your concern about permanency planning for children whose family circumstances are detrimental to their well-being and their well-becoming.
— FRIEDA FRANCISCO-LA GRANGE
Francisco-la Grange, F. (1988) Opening Address: NACCW Sixth Biennial Conference, in Gannon, B. (ed.) Today's Child, Tomorrow's Adult. Cape Town: National Association of Child Care Workers.
Bowlby, J. (1953) Child Care and the Growth of Love. London: Penguin Books
Bowlby, J. (1973) Attachment and Loss. New York: Basic Books
Rutter: (1972) Maternal Deprivation Reassessed. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books