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The Cultural Nature of AttachmentContextualizing Relationships and Development$
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Heidi Keller and Kim A. Bard

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780262036900

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262036900.001.0001

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Exploring the Assumptions of Attachment Theory across Cultures

Exploring the Assumptions of Attachment Theory across Cultures

The Practice of Transnational Separation among Chinese Immigrant Parents and Children

(p.171) 7 Exploring the Assumptions of Attachment Theory across Cultures
The Cultural Nature of Attachment

Cindy H. Liu

Stephen H. Chen

Yvonne Bohr

Leslie Wang

Ed Tronick

The MIT Press

Prolonged transnational separation between parents and children is a common occurrence for many families today. Typically motivated by the desire to create a better economic future for the entire family, parents who move abroad in search of work opportunities often face limited childcare options in their country of settlement. This causes some parents to send their infants and young children back to the parental homeland to be cared for by relatives for extended periods. In this chapter, serial attachments and separations among caregivers and children in the United States and China serve as a cultural exemplar to extend and situate the meaning of attachment. The goal is to understand how this practice might affirm and challenge various concepts within attachment theory. Attention is given to the concept of monotropy, a basic component of attachment theory that assumes children’s healthy development depends on a singular attachment created by sensitive interchanges between a parent and child. In turn, new directions are proposed for its measurement and related constructs.

Keywords:   Strüngmann Forum Reports, stress, culture, attachment, parenting, immigration, China

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