Fathers' attachment styles and father/child relationships by partner and caregiver types

Date
2011-08
Authors
Siciliano Avila, Connie M.
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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to integrate attachment, divorce outcomes, and father involvement fields to examine differences between father statuses across partner and caregiver types regarding fathers' attachment and father/child relationships. Father statuses consisted of four groups: traditional, stay-at-home, custodial, and noncustodial fathers. Sixty-eight fathers completed the Experiences in Close Relationships (ECR; Brennan, Clark, & Shaver, 1998) and Parent Child Relationship Inventory (PCRI; Gerard, 2000) questionnaires for the online study at Psychdata.com. Data analyses consisted of three steps. Step one was preliminary analyses of demographic variables and ECR scales. For step two, a 2 (partnered, unpartnered) x 2 (primary, secondary) MANOVA was conducted on the two dimensions (anxiety, avoidance) of the ECR. Step three was an exploratory analysis to determine whether or not the ECR scales mediated or moderated relationships between partner type and the PCRI scales. Additionally, Pearson Product Moment correlations were utilized with ECR and PCRI scales. For the preliminary analysis, there was a significant main effect for partner type. Currently unmarried fathers had higher attachment anxiety and avoidance scores than currently married fathers. For the primary hypotheses, results showed a significant main effect for partner type. Post hoc analysis revealed a significant univariate effect for attachment anxiety. Unpartnered fathers had higher attachment anxiety scores than partnered fathers. For the exploratory analysis, fathers' attachment scores did not mediate or moderate associations between partner types and fathers' parenting scores. There were no associations between fathers' attachment styles and their parenting processes. The results indicated that fathers' internal working models of relationships may not be related to their caregiving behaviors; thus, the results may not support the idea of intergenerational transmission of fathers' attachment styles via fathers' parenting processes. Findings of the present study were integrated with the literature on attachment, divorce, and father involvement. Implications for theory, research and practice were included.

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Keywords
Psychology, Attachment style, Custodial fathers, Divorce, Father involvement, Fathers, Internal working models, Stay-at-home fathers
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