Attachment in children: Gender of main care giver

Although the stay at home father is still considered an unusual phenomenon, with the existing trend in unemployment and redundancies, traditional gender functions are ever more changing and much more men are becoming the primary attention givers for his or her children.

Just thirty years back the typical Irish mother remained at home caring for house and family and the father was the only real supplier for the family. Today significantly less than forty per cent of mothers work regular in the house. The Irish mammy also goes out to work and utilizes someone else to do at least some of the food preparation, cleaning and child minding.

According to the most recent National Household Review by the Central Figures Office, there are roughly 7, 500 men in Ireland occupied full time in "home duties".

With the existing economic situation in Ireland, and as more men learn to join in the struggle on how to juggle family and home, in conjunction with rising unemployment-unemployment rates for men in 2010 2010 were 16. 7 per cent -we can assume more men are going to be full time in the home, and many will become primary care and attention givers with their children. With this thought, the aim of my research proposal is to determine if the gender of the primary care giver impacts the kind of attachment relationship between the treatment giver and the child.


John Bowlby (1907-1990) actually devised the essential tenets of attachment theory. He devoted intensive research to the idea of attachment, describing it as "a lasting psychological connectedness between humans". Bowlby distributed the psychoanalytic view that early experiences in childhood own an important impact on development and behaviour in later life. Our early on attachment styles are proven in youth through the partnership between the infant and the caregiver.

The central theme of connection theory is that treatment givers who are available and responsive to their infant's needs, establish a sense of security. The infant knows that the health care giver is dependable, which creates a secure base for the child to explore the world.

According to Bowlby, proximity wanting to the attachment physique when confronted with threat is the "established goal of the connection behaviour system". (Danya, 2006)

Early steps in connection most easily happen if the infant has one principal care and attention giver or the casual care of a small number of other folks (J, 1958) Bowlby experienced that children have more than one amount towards whom they lead attachment behavior, but that these figures aren't treated equally.

He believed that there was one fundamental attachment relationship and that this was between the infant and the mom. He termed this relationship monotropism. He also presumed that there is a critical period between six months and thirty six calendar months, when this attachment must be maintained.

It has been suggested that the timing of Bowlbys research is significant for the reason that male military were returning from World Warfare 11 and the government hoped to encourage women to give up their jobs to the returning soldiers. By recommending that children would be damaged by the absence of their moms, they hoped to discourage mothers from working outside the home.

Researchers and theorists have discontinued this concept and current thinking posits that connection theory is not gender specific and that the availability of a consistant, delicate and loving attention giver is exactly what infants need to build up a secure connection, irrespective of gender of health care giver.

Harry Harlow's experiments on the effects of maternal deprivation on rhesus monkeys (Harlow, 1958) contains removing newborn monkeys using their company mothers and bringing up them in isolation. In their cage they had access to two wire moms. One was manufactured from wire mesh and acquired a feeding bottle attached, the other a cable frame protected in a gentle tactile material but which offered no opportunity for the infant monkey to give food to. Harlow noted that whenever the baby monkeys received the decision of both mothers, the babies chose the soft mom to cling to. It turned out thought that the motivation for mammals to add had been for success and feeding. However Harlow's tests suggested that monkeys wanted comfort contact and that was as, or even more, important than feeding. Also when the monkeys were later re-introduced into the troupe they shown frightened, anxious behaviours, indicating that their early on experiences acquired created difficulties for the coffee lover in developing social romantic relationships with others.

This research emerged to shape some of Bowlby's theory of connection.

Another of Bowlby's acquaintances Mary Ainsworth developed a means of testing the grade of the connection between infant and caregiver. She conducted extensive observational research on infant/parent or guardian dyads in Uganda during the childs first calendar year. She mixed home appointments with the analysis of behaviours in particular situations. Her research was publicized in 1967 in a publication titled "Infancy in Uganda". In it she recognized three types of connection styles. They were secure, avoidant/insecure, and ambivilant/repellent. Further research by Mary Main at the University of California added a fourth style determined as disorganised/disoriented.

Mary Ainsworth developed an experiment called the Weird Situation Procedure to recognize infants connection types. The experiment places the infant under a small amount of stress and the connection type can be assessed from the infanfs reaction to its parent during the reunion stage of the experiment. The newborns are stressed through being in a strange envoirnment, being in the occurrence of a stranger and being segregated using their parents.

Bowlby believed that parental sensitivity was important for the development of attachment. Follow up studies have validated that sensitive parents generally have securely attached newbornscite myers pg 190

In her book "Patterns of Attachment: A Psychological Study of the Unusual Situation" Mary Ainsworth discovered that four scales were strongly linked to secure attachment. We were holding sensitivity, popularity, co-operation and convenience. Also De Wolff & Van Ijzendoorn (1997) found that 'participating in' was an important factor in promoting connection.

Results of attachment theory research suggest that experiences of attachment and romantic relationships in early child years influence the development of mental buildings which Bowlby identifies as inner working models. He believed that the child represents its romantic relationship with its parents internally, and it is thought that this model functions as a template for future associations. A child who experiences very sensitive caregiving will establish an optimistic working model of herself and of her caregiver. These models are expanding in infants between the ages of six months and twenty four months so that it is vital that they obtain sensitive, consistent attention giving at this time.

Infants who have been classified as creating a secure attachment type are associated with very sensitive and responsive main care. Those grouped with an insecure/avoidant attachment type are associated with unresponsive primary care and those classified with an insecure/resistant connection type are associated with inconsistent principal care. It's been wondered what points out this relationship.

Is it parenting style that influences the sort of attachment pattern or does indeed an infant' s temprement affect the design of parenting they get? Dutch researcher Dymphna van den Boom( 1990, 1995 ) designed an test to attempt to answer these questions. She given a hundred 6- to 9month old temperamentally difficult infants into two groupings. Inside the first group, the experimental-condition group, the mothe'rs received personal training in very sensitive responding, whereas in the second group, the experimental-control group the mothers received no training. When retested at a year old, 68 per cent of the first group were graded securely attached, as were only 28 % of the second group. Other research studies have also discovered that intervention supports the idea of a causal role of sensitivity in shaping attachment.

That very much research has been done on moms with regards to their children is indicative of your frame of mind towards parenting, where we place fathers in a smaller role. The next literature review endeavors to answer the hypothesis : Does the gender of the principal care giver impact the attachment enter children?

I researched five studies: These were

1 Sensitivity and connection: A meta-analysis on parental antecedents of infant parts (De Wolff & van Ijzendoorn 1997)

2 The Need for Father Love- Record and Contemporary Proof (Rohner & Veneziano 2001)

3 Early fathers and mothers involvement and child's later educational results (Flouri & Buchanan 2004)

4 Parenthood activities during the child's first season (Barclay & Lupton 1999)

5 The Cultural Nexus of Aka Father-Infant Bonding ( Barry S. Hewlett)

The first article included sixty six studies on parental antecedents of attachment

security. It questioned whether maternal sensitivity is associated with infant attachment security, and while it was concluded that maternal sensitivity was one factor for secure connection, it also figured social class possessed a direct effect on maternal sensitivity as the stress and strains of lower course life may overburden potentially sensitive mothers.

The main findings in the second study "The importance of Daddy Love - History and Contemporary Research" was that the influence of father love on their children's development appears to be as great and occasionally greater than mom love. Overall father love seems to be as heavily implicated as mom love in their children's health, health and development. It is also as heavily implicated within an selection of their children's mental and behavioural problems. The role of fathers has evolved greatly as time passes from that of your stern patriarch in the 1700s to the distant breadwinner of the 1900s and on to the genial playmate daddy and gender role model of the 1970s. The perfect image of today's father is reported to be of any co-parent sharing equally in the good care of his children. This shows how ethnical conceptions of fatherhood have evolved over time. In the third study I analyzed, researchers figured early father engagement can be considered a protective element in counteracting some risk conditions that might later lead to low educational attainment, while in "Parenthood encounters during the child's first season" some of the men interviewed said that they didn't consider that household responsibilities and child health care performed the same status as paid work. It had been found that first time fathering in western culture requires men to be together provider, home help and nurturer. The needs of these jobs induced stress and tension between them and their associates and made them re-evaluate this is and workplace in their lives and their sense of self as competent people. The vast majority of the men found the first weeks and weeks of fatherhood more unpleasant than worthwhile despite getting excited about it positively. Their experiences seemed to be more closely linked to their challenges in keeping up with social targets than with specific deficits.

The Cultural Nexus of Aka Father-Infant Bonding provides a distinction between Aka pygmies from the rain forests of central Africa and fathers in european cultures. The Aka father-infant bonding is embedded in a social nexus- it influences, which is influenced with a complex ethnical system. Aka daddy involvement is exceptional. They are within arms reach of their newborns more than fifty per cent of the day. Fathers look for their infants and vice versa. Fathers grab their babies because they intrinsically enjoy being close to them. Infants are transported by either parent or guardian on the net-hunt. These are carried on the hip, making feeding and face to face relationship possible. Fathers know the cues off their infants because they spend so enough time with them. Gender equality pervades Aka culture, beliefs and practises. Both men and women are valued for their different but complementary jobs. There is versatility in these jobs and positioning and looking after babies is not considered women's work. In comparison western fathers are usually out at work throughout the day and cannot provide this kind of treatment. If infants put on their moms through regular, sensitive care giving, will this mean that these fathers do not bond with the infants? The critical factor that has emerged in over fifty studies is energetic play. Some research workers have suggested a natural basis (Clark- Steward 1980) The idea is that mother-infant bonding produces consequently of the rate of recurrence and level of the partnership, and the father-infant connection occurs for this reason highly stimulating conversation. Western fathers are not bad fathers because they actually as much immediate caregiving as Aka fathers. Fathers round the world enrich their children's lives in diverse ways. This newspaper identifies social factors that affect father-infant attachment.

Reviewing these documents would suggest if you ask me that gender will not affect attachment type and that both parents bring their own characteristics to their children's lives to build up secure attachments with them.


Participants will be recruited from mother and baby communities and also from www. dad. ie, an online site for fathers and fathers-to-be.

The test will be explained to the individuals, and their consent received.

The participants are advised they can stop the experiment anytime if they're concerned for their infants welfare.

The sample would comprise 15 mom and newborn pairs and 15 father and newborn pairs.

The self-employed variable is the gender of the principal treatment giver.

The dependant variable is the newborn connection type.

The infant attachment type is measured using the Ainsworth Strange Situation Method, according to the classification instructions(Patterns of Attachments. Ainsworth M. D. S. 1978 pp59-63 )

The test is conducted when the newborns are twelve months old.

All strategies are videotaped and everything responses are measured from these tapes.

At the finish of the task the participants are thanked for participating and informed they'll be given the results when all the data is analysed.

The technique has seven stages. It takes around twenty minutes which is conducted in a laboratory setting. It really is overseen by skilled researchers and proceeds in a standard order for those participants. The sequence of the task is arranged so the infant experiences a series of increasingly mildly difficult situations. They are: a strange room, a new adult, separation from the mom/father however in the business of a new adult and finally being left alone.

Parent and child enter into a new room which has lots of toys in it. The mother or father does not interact with the child but if the child signals that he/she wants interaction, then the parent responds. Normally the mother or father allows the child to explore the environment by herself.

A Stranger enters the area and attempts to interact with the child.

Parent leaves the area. The stranger tries to comfort the kid.

Parent comes back and comforts the child. The stranger leaves the room.

Parent leaves the room. The kid is left by itself.

The stranger earnings and attempts to comfort the child.

Parent profits and comforts the child.

Data Analyses

The connection type is measured based on the classification instructions ( Patterns of Connection. Ainsworth M. D. S. 1978 pp 59-63)

Classifications of attachment type are labelled as follows



Insecure/repellent =C

The securely fastened child becomes visibly annoyed when separated from the parent or guardian and greets him/her warmly after reunion. The child is comforted by the parent and feels able to go back to exploration and play.

The insecure/avoidant attached child shows little problems when the father or mother leaves and either completely ignores the parent or exhibits avoidance behaviours such as turning away or staying away from eye contact upon reunion.

The insecure/immune child is very distressed by the separation from its parent. However on reunion with the father or mother the child displays angry behaviours. When the parent attempts to comfort her the kid resists and will try to have difficulties free.

The disorganised/disoriented attachment type pertains to children who display

disorganised/disoriented habits of behaviour that do not fit within the other categories.

Ainsworth et al (1978) examined many babies and concluded that a typical percentage for America was approximately: 20 per cent attachment type A insecure/avoidant attachment, 70 % connection type B secure attachment and 10 % attachment type C insecure/resistant attachment. This has come to be used as a standard against which other samples are assessed.

If this research were to be conducted and using Ainsworth's standard as a solution, we can presume our results would be comparable.

The parent's of the newborns classified as A, C or D(the disorganised/disoriented attachment type)

would be offered fitness in delicate responding, as studies have found that intervention programs can increase parental sensitivity and a lesser extent infant attachment security(Bakermans-Kranenburg et al. , 2003 Truck Zeijl et al. , 2006)

Mary Ainsworths conclusions were based on mother/infant pairs rather than father/toddler pairs, so although it is onlikely that the results from the dad/infant sample would vary greatly from the mom/infant sample, if it performed then specific research would have to be directed at this area of attachment theory.

This particular sample however is too small and a more substantial sample would be asked to gather sufficient data and the financial costs could be significant.


Just as the timing of John Bowlby's research on connection theory and his views on maternal deprivation were considered significant, so too is the timing for research on the effect of the gender of the primary treatment giver on children, not as a weapon to thrust working mothers out of the work force and back into the home, but instead as an instrument for parents to make use of to appreciate how important both mothers and fathers are with their children's development of secure attachments. While we might pay lip service to the idea of equality among parents, one only must stand at school gates and listen to mother's conversations to realize that parenting is still typically in the women's domain. However, due to the recent monetary down move, there are growing clusters of men holding out at play group and college gates to accumulate their children. This would be an opportune time for you to reaffirm their equivalent position as parents with the backing of strong research in this area.

Attachment associations play an integral role in a child's development, their perceptions of relatedness with others, their concept of themselves and their life experience. When a child receives consistent, sensitive care giving using their primary care giver- regardless of gender- they develop secure parts and also develop positive inner working types of themselves and their health care giver. Their idea of themselves nearly as good, safe, loveable, competent and deserving and their concept of others as reliable, understanding, reactive, safe and reputable, fixes a perception in them that their health care givers are a safe haven from which they can go and explore their environment.

Developmental theorist Eric Erickson(1902-1994) said that securely attached children approach life with basic trust- a feeling that the entire world is predictable and reliable. He theorised that infants blessed with very sensitive, loving care and attention givers form a lifelong frame of mind of trust alternatively than fear (Myers, D. ) There exists ongoing controversy among researchers concerning whether early accessories form the basis in our adult relationships but the Aka pygmies would seem to be to confirm the theory. Attachment style is also associated with motivation, be aware Andrew Elliot and Harry Reis(2003). Securely attached people show less concern with failure and a greater drive to accomplish (Myers, D. ).

In the Ireland of the 1990s when lovers noticed pressureised into buying expensive property, ordinarily a distance away from relatives and buddies, economics dictated that both parents went to work, and their children were kept in the good care of others. Now in 2011 with the existing downturn in the economy many family members are facing unemployment and redundancy, and children will no longer be cared for outside the home but instead at home with one or other parent as primary treatment giver. This is the time to deliver research that underscores the value of both parents in their childs development, so that they know that every one has as an important impact on their children as the other which it doesn't matter what the gender is of the who's kept holding the the infant.

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