Father involvement, paternal sensitivity, and father-child attachment security in the first 3 years.J Fam Psychol. 2012 Jun; 26(3):421-30.JF
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.