Journal of Family Psychology
We investigated the association of prenatal assessments of mothers' and fathers' self-reported romantic attachment anxiety and avoidance with the time mothers and fathers reported in proximity-focused and exploration-focused engagement with their infants at 9 months postpartum. Our sample of 136 dual-earner couples came from a larger longitudinal study of the transition to parenthood. Time in proximity-focused (interactions that emphasize physical or emotional connection) and exploration-focused (activities that stimulate and build knowledge of the world) engagement on workdays and nonwork days were measured using time diaries. Using actor-partner interdependence models, we found significant across-partners associations between romantic attachment and parental engagement. In particular, analyses revealed interesting interactions: fathers higher in avoidance spent more time in exploration-focused engagement on workdays when mothers were more anxious, whereas mothers higher in anxiety spent more time in proximity-focused engagement on nonwork days when fathers were more avoidant. Moreover, fathers demonstrated a compensatory pattern of engagement in response to mother's greater attachment anxiety or avoidance. Findings support the utility of studying romantic attachment within a family system and extend the literature on correlates of early parental engagement. (Author abstract)
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