Do mothers really have stronger bonds with their children than fathers do?
whether father-infant attachments are formed a.t the same time as or after mother- infant relationships, and whether infants demonstrate preferences. Anderson, A. (). The father-infant relationship: Becoming connected. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Utah, Salt Lake City. Google Scholar. the Father-Infant Relationship*. MICHAEL E. LAMB AND JAMIE E. LAMB**. The authors discuss several studies which invalidate the common presump- tion that .
The power of being there as a witness to the birth holds whether the father has had the chance to prepare for the event or not. He may be more comfortable with the physical event of birthing if he has been prepared, but the attachment experience between father and newborn seems to be an intrinsically powerful one.
But the period immediately after birth can find fathers vulnerable as well as engrossed. They feel less control over their own lives, inadequate to the task at hand, and marginalized in their relationship with their spouse.
The vulnerability of new fathers can be hard for new mothers to fathom. A new mothers is anxious to enjoy and practice her new maternal competence. Having her baby respond to her care of him or her is the best antidote to all her worry and concern about her inadequacy.
Precisely the same is true for fathers. In short order, the mother has the exclusivity she wants, but she has unwittingly lost her most important partner in care of the child. Does Paternal Care Matter to Babies? If fathers have the capacity to nurture their children competently but differently from mothers, does this matter to the children? Apparently so, according to two decades of research.
Eight-week-old infants can discriminate between their fathers and their mothers, and respond in a differential way to their approach. When they expected their father to hold them, babies hunched up their shoulders, widened their eyes, and accelerated their heart and respiratory rates. These subtle face-to-face differences in play, modulation, verbal and physical contact are mutually appreciated by the child, the father, and the mother.
Positive Effects of Male Involvement on Children's Development Male involvement, supported by responses from babies and women, has measurable, positive effects on the development of children. Examining 2-month-old infants from middle income, two-parent families, Parke and Sawin found that the more fathers participated in bathing, feeding, diapering, and other routines of physical care, the more socially responsive the babies were.
Furthermore, a year later these babies seemed more resilient in the face of stressful situations.
The importance of father-child bonding - The National
Male involvement has positive effects on the development of vulnerable, as well as typical, infants and young children. In their studies of preterm infants, Gaiter and Yogman found that early paternal involvement had a significant mitigating effect on the long-term vulnerability of these at-risk infants. Both researchers found that fathers who visited their babies in the hospital frequently, touched them, and talked with the nurses about them, were significantly more involved with their infants up to a year after discharge from the hospital.
Potentially as important were data suggesting that that the more present and involved the father, the more rapid the weight gain and earlier the discharge of the baby. Pause for a moment and think about how easy it is for the fathers in your NICU—or those you have known—to find their babies, touch them, and talk to you or anyone about how they are doing. The very vulnerability of the preterm infant is an important factor in eliciting protective and providing impulses from men.
We have learned that infants can develop deep emotional attachments to their fathers which do not depend on the security they derive from their different attachment to their mothers.
As we have noted earlier, even very young infants experience men as different from mothers in smell, size, style, feel, sound, and overall presence. When the father is there, he matters, but in ways that are different from mother. Through these experiences, babies start to learn from their fathers about comings and goings, transitions, separations, and loving, but non-maternal, nurturing.
That is why so many toddlers turn so decisively to fathers in the second year, as they practice their own autonomy and differentiation from their primary caretakers, mothers. But here, too, research concerning the effect of male care on both man and child is encouraging.
Of course the variability and range of male nurturing are as broad as in female nurturing. Most findings about distinctive patterns of male nurturing are merely trends; we all know fathers who resemble traditional mothers and mothers who resemble traditional fathers.
Fathers as Primary Caregivers What does paternal care look like when it is not simply supplemental or episodic? For 12 years now, I have been conducting a small, longitudinal hypothesis-generating study of the developmental impact on young children of having a father as primary caregiver early in life Pruett, My sample consists of 18 two-parent Hispanic, Caucasian, and African-American families from across the socioeconomic spectrum.
Some of these parents had planned before having a child that the father would serve as primary caregiver; some had reached this decision through a process of compromise; and some felt forced into this arrangement by economic circumstances.
The father's contribution to infant development
None of them considered this arrangement as anything other than temporary. We last interviewed the children at the 10 year follow-up.
After the first year, some interesting trends began to emerge: These children raised primarily by men were active, vigorous, robust and thriving infants. They were also competent. The majority of infants functioned above expected norms on several categories, particularly adaptive-problem-solving and social adaptation. Most noticeably, these infants seemed especially comfortable with, and attracted to, stimulation from the external environment.
They could quiet and regulate themselves, but their appetite for engaging the outer world and bringing it into their own was especially sharp.**VERY EMOTIONAL** Father Holds His Baby For The First Time
Although this finding was harder to quantify, many of the babies seemed to expect that their curiosity, stick-to-it-iveness and challenging behavior would be tolerated possibly even appreciated by adults in their environment, be they parents, child care providers, or examiners. These babies seemed to expect that play would be rich, exciting, and reciprocated, and that block designs and puzzles would eventually yield to persistence and determination. How about the fathers? We were interested in how fathers felt about their babies, how they felt about themselves as parents, and how they and their spouses felt about the fathers in other adult roles.
The importance of father-child bonding
Fathers developed an intense attachment to their babies and a sense of themselves as primary caregivers in stages. They achieved a critical reciprocal nurturing relationship with their babies at different rates, usually depending on how much time they had to get themselves ready for this role in their family.
This transition was critical for both parents and babies. Once they assumed primary caregiving, the men reported a consistent sequence of realizations. Unique caregiving styles emerged as the men gradually began to think of themselves as parents in their own right.
Fathers were amazed at the depth and rapidity with which they became attached to their babies. They found it perhaps even harder to believe that the babies saw them as so immensely significant.
One father was baffled when his 4-month-old daughter stopped eating for two days and developed a week-long sleep disturbance after he shaved off his beard. Only after a neighbor failed to recognize him at the elevator did this father think that his daughter might be having the same problem, and be missing the bearded daddy she knew and loved. Not all the changes were positive. They worried about becoming dull and overweight, losing their intellectual edge or physical prowess, and suddenly enjoying soap operas.
Loneliness was a problem for most of the fathers, who found few if any peers with whom to discuss their babies and their world. On the other hand, these fathers felt more aware of the emotive world, spending large amounts of time simply watching their children sleep or eat. The fathers felt guilty for feeling angry at their kids after the fourth sleepless night in a row, or when they felt that they had lost patience with a cranky inconsolable baby.
So much of it comes from the job itself! Wives of primary caregiver fathers were more positive than the fathers themselves in characterizing the changes that occurred in these men. Wives found their husbands more patient not only with their children but with them unless the father felt his wife was not pitching in enoughand more emotionally available, even though more physically exhausted.
The father assists the infant in separation from the mother Mahler et al. He provides a source of early identification and offers support against re-engulfment by the mother Loewald, The father is a model of work and the world Winnicott, and represents progression, independence, activity Chodorow,boundary-setting and reality-testing Davids, He assists in the formation of gender identity Stoller, and finally he provides a real relationship for the infant Winnicott, The Actual Father and the Father Object Under optimal conditions, the actual real father both offers a real relationship and contributes towards the development of the father object.
The actual father, being a male, possesses qualities and attributes that are different to the mother. It is not only his role that influences the infant, but the father by his very essence is different to the mother Forrest, and the infant can distinguish these subtleties in his presence.
Find a Therapist All of our therapists deal with father issues. Contact any of our Auckland Therapists for more information or an appointment. Some further observations and comments on the earliest role of the father. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 56, The bonds of love: Psychoanalysis, feminism and the problem of domination.
Identification with difference - A contribution to gender heterodoxy. Psychoanalytic Dialogue, 1, Clinical applications of attachment theory. Feminism and psychoanalytic theory.
New Haven Yale University Press. Fathers in the internal world. Manifestations in the inner world and the therapeutic situation. Paternal roots of female character development. Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 3, Civilisation and its discontents. Original published Greenspan, S.
Developmental and clinical perspectives pp. Selected critical review of psychological investigations of the early-father-infant relationship. Developmental and clinical perspectives. Little Brown Lamb, M. The development of father-infant relations. John Wiley and Sons.
International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 32, On symbiotic child psychosis: Genetic, dynamic and restitutive aspects. The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 10, The psychological birth of the human infant. Theatres of the body. The father's role in the child's development in the capacity to deal with separation and loss.