Mothers’ and fathers’ attachment and caregiving representations during transition to parenthood: an actor–partner approach

Ana Fonseca*, Bárbara Nazaré, Maria Cristina Canavarro

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objective: This study aimed to investigate the effect of one’s attachment representations on one’s and the partner’s caregiving representations. Background: According to attachment theory, individual differences in parenting and caregiving behaviours may be a function of parents’ caregiving representations of the self as caregiver, and of others as worthy of care, which are rooted on parents’ attachment representations. Furthermore, the care-seeking and caregiving interactions that occur within the couple relationship may also shape individuals’ caregiving representations. Methods: The sample comprised 286 cohabiting couples who were assessed during pregnancy (attachment representations) and one month post-birth (caregiving representations). Path analyses were used to examine effects among variables. Results: Results showed that for mothers and fathers, their own more insecure attachment representations predicted their less positive caregiving representations of the self as caregiver and of others as worthy of help and more self-focused motivations for caregiving. Moreover, fathers’ attachment representations were found to predict mothers’ caregiving representations of themselves as caregivers. Conclusions: Secure attachment representations of both members of the couple seem to be an inner resource promoting parents’ positive representations of caregiving, and should be assessed and fostered during the transition to parenthood in both members of the couple.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)246-260
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology
Volume36
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 May 2018
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Attachment representations
  • Caregiving representations
  • Couple dynamics
  • Gender
  • Transition to parenthood

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