Article

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

ABSTRACT

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.

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    • " 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 "
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    • "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. "
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