Father Involvement, Paternal Sensitivity, and Father-Child Attachment Security in the First 3 Years

Department of Psychology, Clark University, 950 Main Street, Worcester, MA 01610, USA.
Journal of Family Psychology (Impact Factor: 1.89). 04/2012; 26(3):421-30. DOI: 10.1037/a0027836
Source: PubMed


To reach a greater understanding of the early father-child attachment relationship, this study examined concurrent and longitudinal associations among father involvement, paternal sensitivity, and father-child attachment security at 13 months and 3 years of age. Analyses revealed few associations among these variables at 13 months of age, but involvement and sensitivity independently predicted father-child attachment security at age 3. Moreover, sensitivity moderated the association between involvement and attachment security at 3 years. Specifically, involvement was unrelated to attachment security when fathers were highly sensitive, but positively related to attachment security when fathers were relatively less sensitive. Father involvement was also moderately stable across the two time points, but paternal sensitivity was not. Furthermore, there was significant stability in father-child attachment security from 13 months to 3 years. Secure attachment at 13 months also predicted greater levels of paternal sensitivity at 3 years, with sensitivity at age 3 mediating the association between 13 month and 3 year attachment security. In sum, a secure father-child attachment relationship (a) was related to both quantity and quality of fathering behavior, (b) remained relatively stable across early childhood, and (c) predicted increased paternal sensitivity over time. These findings further our understanding of the correlates of early father-child attachment, and underscore the need to consider multiple domains of fathers' parenting and reciprocal relations between fathering behavior and father-child attachment security.

Download full-text


Available from: Sarah C Mangelsdorf
  • Source
    • " the findings call for replication in larger scale samples . One consequence of the small sample size is that with the subsequent range of appropriate analysis , the findings should be viewed as tentative . It is perhaps worth mentioning that the difficulty of recruiting fathers in research is well documented and was evident in the current study ( Brown et al . , 2012 ; Caldera , 2004 ) . Given a lack of available paternal reports in the current study , it was unfortu - nately not possible to measure father reports of paternal involvement and instead , paternal involvement was rated by mothers alone . An attempt was made to control for the wide range of disagreement between mother and father reports "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Recent re-conceptualisation of paternal involvement (Pleck, J. H. (201049. Pleck, J. H. (2010). Paternal involvement: Revised conceptualization and theoretical linkages with child outcomes. In M. Lamb (Ed.), The role of the father in child development (5th ed., pp. 67–107). London: Wiley.View all references). Paternal involvement: Revised conceptualization and theoretical linkages with child outcomes. In M. Lamb (Ed.), The role of the father in child development (5th ed., pp. 67–107). London: Wiley), while proving fruitful, has yet to be applied to investigations into what extent a father's level of involvement may affect child–peer interactions in the preschool age range, over and above the effects of mother–child attachment quality and socio-economic status (SES). Patterns of associations between attachment quality, sensitivity and general caregiving behaviours have also yet to be compared in equally involved mothers and fathers. Thirty preschool children (17 males:13 females) with similar SES profiles and their immediate caregivers participated in hour-long observations, conducted in the home. Even when attachment quality was controlled for, children with low paternal involvement were found to have higher levels of child–peer aggression. Further, patterns of effects between caregiver sensitivity, child–caregiver attachment quality and general caregiver interactions were similar for equally involved mothers and fathers. These preliminary data support the concept of applying Pleck's (201049. Pleck, J. H. (2010). Paternal involvement: Revised conceptualization and theoretical linkages with child outcomes. In M. Lamb (Ed.), The role of the father in child development (5th ed., pp. 67–107). London: Wiley.View all references) re-conceptualisation of paternal involvement to preschool attachment, and have implications towards the wider study of child–father attachment. Limitations of the current study and directions for future research are discussed.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2014 · Early Child Development and Care
    • "Studies find that fathers also make unique contributions to sibling, peer, behavioral and achievement outcomes, with many of the benefits manifested through middle childhood and into adolescence and adulthood (Flouri & Buchanan, 2004; Steele, Steele & Fonagy, 1996; Veríssimo et al., 2011; Verschueren & Marcoen, 1999). Still, the ideal bases for development of positive father-child relationships and benefits, like mother–child, are initiated in the earliest years of life (Boyce et al., 2006; Brown et al., 2012; Feinberg & Kan, 2008). The attachment literature added support to the father involvement literature on this very point. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The AFCC Think Tank on Research, Policy, Practice, and Shared Parenting was convened in response to an identified need for a progression of thinking in the family law field, removed from the current polarizing debates surrounding the postseparation care of infants and very young children. We share this goal as our research and commentaries have been centrally implicated in the current controversies. Our collaboration over this empirical paper and its clinical counterpart endorses the need for higher-order thinking, away from dichotomous arguments, to more inclusive solutions grounded in an integrated psycho-developmental perspective. We first critically appraise the theoretical and empirical origins of current controversies relevant to attachment and parental involvement research. We then describe how attachment and parental involvement contribute complementary perspectives that, taken together, provide a sound basis from which to understand the needs of very young children in separated families. As a companion piece, Part II offers a collective view of a way forward for decision making about overnights for infants and young children, toward the integration of theoretical and empirical with clinical wisdom.
    No preview · Article · Apr 2014 · Family Court Review
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: This paper reports upon part of an inquiry into the effects of parental divorce on children and adolescents. The entire sample includes 131 children between the ages of 2 1/2 and 18 yr from 60 families. These children and their parents were studied intensively by an interdisciplinary clinical team at two points in the family life experience: shortly after the initial separation of the parents and a year later. In this first report on the preschool children, the authors present the initial response of all 34 preschool children in the sample to the parental separation and pending divorce, and turn then to a fuller consideration of those 15 children (44%) who at the second check point of the study appeared in significantly worsened psychological condition.
    No preview · Article · Feb 1975 · Journal of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry
Show more