We know that attachments to their parents are primary, but young children can also benefit significantly from relationships with other responsive caregivers both within and outside the family. Close relationships with other nurturing and reliably available adults do not interfere with the strength of a young child’s primary relationship with his or her parents. In fact, multiple caregivers can promote young children’s social and emotional development.
A child’s capacity to adapt and thrive despite adversity develops through the interaction of supportive relationships, biological systems, and gene expression. Despite the widespread yet erroneous belief that people need only draw upon some heroic strength of character, science now tells us that it is the reliable presence of at least one supportive relationship and multiple opportunities for developing effective coping skills that are the essential building blocks for strengthening the capacity to do well later on in life when facing significant adversity.