EYES ON PARENTING

Study: Absentee parents can affect children’s brain development

Dec 11, 2015, 9:37 AM | Updated: Dec 16, 2015, 12:14 pm

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LISTEN: Study: Absentee parents can affect children's brain development

PHOENIX — A lack of direct contact with parents has a detrimental effect on children’s brain development, a study showed.

The research helps create a better picture of the brain and how an absentee parent affects development, Christina Jimenez, a licensed associate marriage and family therapist with Doorways Arizona in Phoenix, said.

“This really helps people see in a more tangible way how the brain is being affected by the absence of a parent,” she said. “But in all reality it’s not necessarily the absence of the parent, it’s how the child is attached to that parent.”

In early childhood development, parental attachment signals a child when there is danger.

“Attachment is a part the brain that helps us create our emotional centers,” Jimenez said. “It’s creates our ability to use our fight or flight.”

Jimenez said the study also addressed the impact an absentee parent can have on the child’s ability to bond and develop interpersonal relations.

For example, Jimenez said if both parents work a lot, it’s important to maintain a bond with the child.

“Parents are very lucky right now,” she said. “They email, they have FaceTime, they have Skype, they have text messages, they have social media. They have a lot of ways that they can connect to their children.”

While the debate about social media’s effectiveness in developing connections may yet be undecided, Jimenez said it is better than nothing.

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Study: Absentee parents can affect children’s brain development