From the father's point of view: How father's representations of the infant impact on father–infant interaction and infant development

R.A.S. Hall, I.E.M. de Waard, A. Tooten, H.N. Hoffenkamp, A.J.J.M. Vingerhoets, H.J.A. van Bakel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Despite the knowledge that fathers uniquely contribute to the development of their infants, relatively few studies have focused on the father–infant relationship during early infancy. In the present longitudinal study we included 189 fathers and examined whether their early attachment representations of the infant predicted future quality of father–infant interaction. We also investigated whether these representations were related to the infant's development. Paternal attachment representations were assessed by the Working Model of Child Interview (WMCI) at 6 months post-partum and classified fathers' representations as ‘balanced’ or ‘unbalanced’ (disengaged or distorted). At 24 months, father–infant interaction was videotaped and analyzed by the NICHD coding scales. Further, the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT-III) was administered to evaluate the infant's verbal development. Results revealed that fathers' early attachment representations of the infant predict the quality of future father–infant interaction, with balanced representations more strongly associated with more favorable behaviors in fathers and infants. In addition, paternal interactive behavior appears an important mechanism through which paternal representations influence the development of the infant. These results underline the importance of early identification of fathers with unbalanced attachment representations, and we therefore recommend that more attention should be directed to the quality of the early father–infant relationship in clinical settings.
Keywords: Fathers, Representations, Father–infant interaction, Infant development
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)877–883
JournalEarly Human Development
Volume90
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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