This paper describes a study examining the nature and importance of fathers' relationships to their infants. Most previous research in this area had concentrated on the negative impact on childhood development of a father's absence, or on the differences between children's relationships with strangers and with their mothers. This study examined the child's behavior in an unfamiliar playroom as a function of the presence or absence of his mother, father, or an unfamiliar female at the ages of 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, and 21 months. The sample consisted of 144 infants (all first-born children), with 12 boys and 12 girls observed at each of the six ages. Each child was observed for a 39-minute session broken up into 13 episodes during which the infant was accompanied by various combinations of mother, father, and female stranger. The duration of the child's playing, crying, proximity to a person, touching a person, proximity to the door, vocalizations, smiles, fixations, and interactions were coded continuously throughout the session. Findings strongly support the proposition that children form an active and close relationship with the father during the first 2 years of life.
The Nature of the Infant's Tie to His Father.
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