Infant-Father Attachments and Their Impact on Child Development.

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Lamb, M. E.
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Recent research has demonstrated the importance of father-child relationships to child development. This chapter reviews the findings about the link between paternal attachment and child development, with a focus on infants. It addresses the ability of fathers to be responsive to their children, the level of interaction between fathers and their infants, and the evolution of father-infant attachments. Studies of paternal sensitivity and responsiveness indicate that most fathers are able to develop attachments with their infants, despite the fact that men spend less time than women with their children. The amount of time that fathers spend with their children is influenced by individual characteristics, family characteristics, and cultural factors. Variables include the employment of the child's mother, the level of encouragement that men receive, and the gender of the child. Father-child relationships evolve in approximately the same way as mother-child relationships. However, children often show a preference for their mother because the mother is the primary caretaker. Research also has found that traditional gender stereotypes affect the father child relationship as fathers are expected to be playful and mothers are perceived as nurturing. In general, paternal stimulation and interaction contributes to cognitive and linguistic development, higher IQ, interest in reading, and independent problem solving. Finally, fathers can affect child development indirectly through their support and relationship with the child's mother. Numerous references.

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