Fathers' Frightening Behaviours and Sensitivity with Infants: Relations with Fathers' Attachment Representations, Father-Infant Attachment, and Children's Later Outcomes.

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Journal Name
Early Child Development and Care
Journal Volume
Journal Issue
1 & 2
Page Count
Year Published
Author (Individual)
Hazen, Nancy L.
McFarland, Laura.
Jacobvitz, Deborah.
Boyd-Soisson, Erin.
Resource Type
Journal Article
Resource Format
Resource Language
This longitudinal study of 125 families investigated whether negative child outcomes related to fathers' frightening (FR) behaviours with infants would be mitigated if fathers were also sensitive. Results indicated that children whose fathers were frightening and insensitive with them during infancy showed the highest emotional under-regulation at 24 months and highest teacher ratings of attention problems at age 7, whereas those whose fathers were frightening and sensitive did not differ from children whose fathers were sensitive but not frightening. Sensitive caregiving mitigated the negative impact of FR behaviours on child outcomes for fathers, but not mothers. Perhaps fathers who can be sensitive but also engage in stimulating, albeit frightening, interactions with their infants may actually be scaffolding their ability to regulate their affect in intensely emotional situations. FR behaviours by mothers may be more problematic for child outcomes since these behaviours conflict with the primary caregiver's role of providing comfort. (Author abstract)

Note: This article is part of the journal special issue entitled Emerging Topics on Father Attachment: Considerations in Theory, Context and Development.

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