It takes two to talk: longitudinal associations among infant-mother attachment, maternal attachment representations, and mother-child emotion dialogues.Attach Hum Dev. 2015; 17(1):43-64.AH
Research on the attachment-dialogue link has largely focused on infant-mother attachment. This study investigated longitudinal associations between infant-mother attachment and maternal attachment representations and subsequent mother-child emotion dialogues (N = 50). Maternal attachment representations were assessed using the Adult Attachment Interview when children were 3 months, infant-mother attachment was assessed using the Strange Situation Procedure at 13 months, and mother-child emotion dialogues were assessed using the Autobiographical Emotional Events Dialogue at 3.5 years. Consistent with past research, the three organized categories of infant-mother attachment relationships were associated with later mother-child emotion dialogues. Disorganized attachment relationships were associated with a lack of consistent and coherent strategy during emotion dialogues. Autonomous mothers co-constructed coherent narratives with their children; Dismissing and Preoccupied mothers created stories that were less narratively organized. Although the Unresolved category was unrelated to classifications of types of mother-child discourse, mothers' quality of contribution to the dialogues was marginally lower compared to the quality of their children's contributions to the emotion discussion. Secure children showed highest levels of child cooperation and exploration. Autonomous mothers displayed highest levels of maternal sensitive guidance during emotion dialogues. We provide preliminary evidence for role reversal in dialogues between Preoccupied and Unresolved mothers and their children.