I've read some material about the mother's role in forming good attachment in children under the age of one year.

My question is - do you know about the role of fathers in forming attachment?

Let's take a real example: If the father leaves a newborn for one year (relocation) - do you think the consequences will be irreversible?

2 Answers 2


The father should leave a newborn for one year (relocation) - do you think the consequences will be irreversible?

IMO there certainly will be consequences (there's evidence that having heard their parents' voice while in the womb has influence on newborns, after all) and, given the fact that you cannot go back and do it differently, they are by definition irreversible. Whether that will just make it a little bit harder for the child or has devastating consequences, though, nobody can say in advance (or maybe even in hindsight). It depends on the child, the father, the environment, and how much the two of them will be able to make up for this later.

Note that the inability to bond with your child in the first twelve months does not only prevent the child to attach to its father – but also prevents the father to attach to his child. I remember stories from my parents' generation telling about their father coming home from the war, and preferring the children they fathered then over those who had already grown a bit while they were away. Also, there's studies which show that fathers' violence against children correlates with them not having been around when the children were smaller.

(Note: I am not saying if you go away you will necessarily dislike and beat up your child. Those correlations show a weaker bonding on average. That doesn't mean specific children and fathers didn't get very attached to each other even if they only got to know each other after their first year.)

Having quite a bunch of children myself, I can also tell you that I would have missed so many important developments of my children if I hadn't seen them every day in their first year. In general, this pretty much covers the time when your child will develop from being an unconscious fetus who sucks, farts, and sleeps (biologists say that humans are basically born prematurely) to a bright child who plays, interacts with other humans, walks, talks, loves stories, caresses other babies or pets, and whatnot. No other year of their lives will show such rapid development, such incredible progress. If you miss this, you miss a very important part of your child's life.

One more thing to consider: The first weeks, months, year are very hard for parents, especially if it is their first child. If you stay at home alone with an 8 weeks old there's a very good chance you will barely find the time to have a shower, let alone do the dishes and cook meals. (And what about catching a cold?) Many children also need to be fed or need other forms of attention during the night, robbing their parents of the sleep they'd need to cope with all this. It is very helpful to be able to share this. (I remember arrangements like one of us sleeping away from the child for the first half of the night, the other one for the second half.)

If one person is alone with a child 24/7 for a whole year, then that can be very exhausting for that person. A whole year of such stress and pressure could cause negative effects on the child's development, the person being left alone to cope, and the relationship of the child's parents.

  • 1
    thanks for the answer... it gives some very good points +1
    – Ilan
    Apr 30, 2015 at 8:37

William Sears wrote a book about attaching as a father. Interesting reading.

In your example -- from the child's point of view, the father is being lost, presumably forever. That's huge.

But there are times when families have to make sacrifices. It always amazes me how well children usually adjust and recover.

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