"We like to think of babies as 'ordinary miracles,'" said Victor Bernstein, a research associate at the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. But adjusting to a baby can take work, and the task of social workers often is to help young mothers learn to focus on an infant's needs, say Bernstein and other SSA experts. "Mothers are not only important to their kids, but kids are really important to their mothers," Bernstein said.
For instance, a social worker may ask permission to pick up a newborn, ask the mother to call out the child's name, and then watch as the baby turns to her voice, Bernstein said. This hands-on experience can show a young mother the importance of talking to her infant, much more vividly than any discussion could.
Bernstein and others at the school have done extensive research on the needs of young mothers, particularly unwed teens. Their work shows that a wide variety of parenting styles can be effective in rearing children, but helping a mother focus on her baby and make the baby a priority is key. SSA is the only school of social work in the country that prepares students specifically to work with infants.
Early attention to children's needs is becoming an increasingly important part of the work of social workers, said Sydney Hans, the Samuel Deutsch Professor at SSA. The health care act that President Obama signed into law in 2010 funds home visits to new parents and their infants through programs that research has proven effective, Hans pointed out.
Work at SSA helps prepare students to be effective in home visits. Bernstein is teaching a class this spring titled "Strategies for Working with Infants, Toddlers and their Parents," in which he helps students understand the interaction between mothers and their babies so that they might help in the nurturing process. The students videotape and later discuss interactions between mothers and children.
Bernstein's clinical work shows that videos taken of teen mothers interacting with their children are an effective part of the home visiting program. "A central component of the home visitor's role is to help the parent interpret the meaning of the child's behavior," said Bernstein. His teaching and training, along with Hans' research, have been supported by the Irving B. Harris Foundation in Chicago.
"Making and viewing the video is fun for parents and provides a concrete and lasting means of showing parents how they and their babies grow together," Bernstein points out in "Strengthening Families through Strengthening Relationships: Supporting the Parent-child Relationship through Home Visiting," published by the Infant Mental Health Promotion Project.
Video also functions as a sort of instant replay to help parents understand their children better. "If a parent observes a child becoming upset when watching the tape, most often the parent identifies what the problem is and what she might try instead — without the home visitor needing to make any type of suggestion," he said.
Teen mothers often face problems that prevent them from developing their natural talents for mothering, Bernstein and Hans said. Some mothers' pregnancies may have concerned their families, and yet they need family support to handle the challenge, researchers pointed out. In many cases, the father is also absent.
"But my own research has shown that for many young women, becoming a mother is a positive life experience. They realize they have accepted an important responsibility and take steps to ensure that they will be able to support themselves and their children in the future," Hans said.
Hans has studied the effectiveness of doulas as an intervention for young mothers and has found that having support during pregnancy and in the first months after the birth can lead to a more positive relationship between mother and infant. The effects of the intervention dissipate with time, however, suggesting the need for longer-term home visitation programs for vulnerable mothers.
William Harms | EurekAlert!
Drone vs. truck deliveries: Which create less carbon pollution?
31.05.2017 | University of Washington
New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
28.06.2017 | Awards Funding
28.06.2017 | Earth Sciences
28.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy