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Vulnerability of Infants and Toddlers

We’ve been discussing the incredible vulnerability of infants and toddlers. Many investigations in recent years have confirmed that touch and emotional nurturance in the first few years of life are necessary to survival.

Now, a study conducted at Harvard University shows unmistakably that the quality of the bonding between a boy and his mother is related to his physical health forty or fifty years later. Remarkably, 91 percent of college men who said they had not enjoyed a close relationship with their mothers developed coronary artery disease, hypertension, duodenal ulcers, or alcoholism by the midlife years. Only 45 percent of the men who recalled maternal warmth and closeness had similar illnesses. The same was true of men and relationships with their fathers. And consider this: 100 percent of participants in this study whose mothers and fathers were cold and distant suffered numerous diagnosed diseases in midlife.

In short, the quality of early relationships between boys and their parents is a powerful predictor of lifelong health. And you can be sure, the same is true of girls and women.

It all comes down to this: When early needs are not met, trouble looms down the road.

James Dobson, Coming Home, Timeless Wisdom for Families, (Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton; 1998), pp. 196-197