The influence of attachment representations and co-parents' scripted knowledge of attachment on fathers' and mothers' caregiving representations.Attach Hum Dev. 2019 10; 21(5):485-509.AH
Despite increased engagement of men in parenting, paternal caregiving representations have not been investigated, and potential gender differences in the links between parents' attachment representations and their caregiving representations are unexplored. The present study investigated fathers' and mothers' (N = 77) representations of caregiving, and links to their own and their co-parents' current mental representations of attachment. Parents were interviewed with the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI) and the Parental-Caregiving Attachment Interview (P-CAI), and co-parents' attachment scripts were measured with the Attachment Script Assessment (ASA). Our results demonstrate several similarities between mothers' and fathers' caregiving representations, but gender differences emerged in probable rejecting and neglecting parental behaviors. For both fathers and mothers, we found systematic differences in caregiving-specific state of mind dimensions on the P-CAI, depending on the parent's attachment classification on the AAI. Importantly, co-parent attachment security, but not parent gender was associated with the likelihood of being classified as autonomous with respect to caregiving.