This book grew out of my deep interest in caregiving, a central encompassing motivation that, as I see it, “makes the world go round.” Parenting seemed to me to be the prototypical example of this motivation, yet the most taken for granted. From my own experience as a mother, I knew how powerful this bond and commitment to the well-being, happiness, and survival of your children is, and how central in my being, though not always in my doing. As I was focusing more on this emotion/feeling/bond/motivation, it became clearer to me that our motivation to give care, our love for our children, and the great many concessions and sometimes sacrifices that we are willing to make for them without expectation to be reciprocated and for the “sole” purpose that they will be healthy, happy, and fulfilled are not at all the same as our needs to be nurtured and protected. In other words, I became quite convinced that the caregiving motive is very distinct from attachment. Yet, unlike attachment which has been examined and studied from various angles, caregiving and in particular parenting have been much less explored.
This last statement is not fully true because developmental researchers as well as clinicians have devoted considerable contemplation and study efforts to uncover what a good parent is. In an effort to understand this issue, they explored for the most part parental behaviors and practices (and less so parental emotions and cognitions) and in particular looked at the effects of these on child outcomes.