The more a baby is attached to his mom during childhood, the better he is at resolving relationship conflicts and enjoying stable, satisfying ties with their romantic partners in early adulthood, the researchers found. “It”s often very difficult to find the lingering effects of early life being related to adult behaviour, because life circumstances change,” said study author Jeffry Simpson, a professor of psychology at the University of Minnesota.
“People change, but there”s a kernel of stability from early experience in a lot of people,” Simpson was quoted as saying by Live Science. For their study, published in journal Current Directions in Psychological Science, Simpson and his colleagues reviewed data from 75 children born in 1976 and 1977 as part of the Minnesota Longitudinal Study of Risk and Adaptation, whose mothers received free prenatal care. These firstborn kids were assessed at regular intervals with interviews, teachers” and parents” ratings and other observations, culminating with their relationships with their romantic partners at ages 20 and 21.
When the children were 12 and 18 months old, they were videotaped in a stressful lab procedure called “Strange Situation,” in which the children were separated and reunited with their mothers. Those who were deemed to have an insecure attachment with their mothers — meaning they remained distressed throughout the experiment — reported more negative emotions when trying to resolve major relationship conflicts with their romantic partners two decades later.
However, Simpson noted that these results were affected by factors such as the children”s social skills in elementary school and the strength of their relationships with their best friend at age 16, which had also been monitored.