Bonding and Attachment in Maltreated Children

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Assignment #3

Read though this case scenario and then consider the questions below.

Case Scenario:  Ben

Gail and Charles were expecting their first child.  The pregnancy had been a difficult one.  Gail had experienced gestational diabetes and her migraine headaches had become worse during the pregnancy.  Finally, bleeding required that Gail be placed on “full bed rest” for three weeks.  These three weeks consumed most of Gail’s remaining sick time, leaving her only 6 weeks of maternity leave.  Fortunately, Gail’s parents lived in town and were able to help in many ways.  Gail, a very quiet and subdued individual, was able to use the time to read the many baby books she had found.  To improve the couple’s financial situation, Charles began working double shifts.   

Baby Ben was born 6 weeks early, weighing 4lbs, 3oz.  Ben remained in the hospital for 3 weeks after his birth.  By the time he went home, he had regained his birth weight, but not much more.   He was struggling with nursing.  In addition, he was having difficulty with his sleep cycle due to the necessity of nursing every three hours.  Ben appeared to fall asleep, to sleep more soundly, and sleep longer when held.  Physically, Gail was exhausted and was still recovering from injuries she sustained during labor.  Her migraines continued, but were less frequent and less severe.  Despite her weakened physical condition, Gail enjoyed the time she spent holding Ben and often found it restful and soothing for them both.   

However, there were times when Ben could be very difficult to soothe and the frequency and intensity of his distress often surprised her.  She often worried that there was a serious problem and made frequent calls to her mother and Ben’s pediatrician.  Charles continued to be very loving and supportive, but continued to work a great deal to meet the family’s financial obligations.


 Consider and list the stressors in the above case scenario, whether case-specific or typical.

 What are some of the circumstances and personal characteristics that could interfere with “optimal” parent-child bonding?

 What are some of the situational and personal characteristics that can off-set these risks?





Remember that, while these difficulties are often associated with early maltreatment, they can also occur under other circumstances and should not be seen as conclusive evidence of child maltreatment. 


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