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The Father-infant relationship beyond caregiving sensitivity

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Parental sensitive behavior is seen as one of the main determinants of attachment security. However, studies also suggest that other behaviors may be stronger predictors of the parent-child relationship (Lucassen et al., 2011). The lack of a significant association between sensitive behavior and the quality of the attachment relationship between father and child in Olsavsky’s study indeed seems to reflect the notion that other interactive behaviors may be specific in father-child relationships (i.e., destabilizing behavior followed by sensitivity). Since the strength of the association between the quality of parental interactive behavior (e.g., sensitive, responsive behavior) and child attachment security is moderate (Fearon & Belsky, 2016), and weaker for fathers (Lucassen et al., 2011) there is a need to examine other factors beyond caregiving sensitivity in attachment research. For example, the important role of reparation of mismatching to matching states and fathers’ own attachment history as related to frightening behavior and mentalization are factors that need to be taken into account. It is essential to apply a broader view of father’s parenting behaviors in different contexts (distress, non-distress, or risky contexts) and a broader view of child attachment behaviors in relationship with the father.
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Keywords: child behavior; fathers; paternal sensitivity

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Social and Behavioral Sciences, Tilburg University, Tilburg, The Netherlands

Publication date: January 2, 2020

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