2 Parental Styles of Interaction during Reminiscing and Play: Relations to Children's Attachment Open Access

Zaman, Widaad (2012)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/m039k5624?locale=en


Parental Styles of Interaction during Reminiscing and Play: Relations to Children's Attachment
By: Widaad Zaman

Sensitive parenting is key to the development of attachment in infants and children. Yet, what sensitive parenting constitutes may differ greatly between mothers and fathers, and attachment research has failed to systematically take this into account, focusing primarily instead on the antecedents of mother-child attachment, and generalizing to the father-child bond. However, studies suggest that mothers and fathers differ in their overall patterns of conversations and play with young children (e.g., Leaper, Anderson & Sanders, 1998), and these differences may result in differential relations to children's attachment (e.g., Grossmann et al., 2002). Yet, no study has directly compared maternal and paternal reminiscing and play in relation to children's attachment. Here, I examined how differences between maternal and paternal might differentially relate to children's attachment. Parent-child dyads from 47 families with a four-year old child reminisced about a happy, sad, peer conflict, parental conflict, playground and special outing experience of the child, and engaged in 10 minutes of free play. Narratives were coded for cognitive elaboration and joint engagement; play interactions were coded for parental intersubjective and challenging play. Children completed the MacArthur Story Stem Battery for attachment. Mothers were found to be more elaborative and engaged with children than fathers, regardless of the type of event being discussed. Mothers were also more consistently elaborative and engaged with daughters than sons across discussions about negative experiences. There were surprisingly no differences between maternal and paternal quality of play, and no relations between maternal reminiscing, play and attachment. However, fathers' elaborative and engaged reminiscing about happy and play experiences, and their intersubjective and challenging play were related to sons' attachment security. Results suggest that gender differences in parental interactions with children may reflect and contribute to qualitatively different representations of the mother and father as attachment figures.

A dissertation submitted to the
Faculty of the James T. Laney School of Graduate Studies of Emory University
in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
in Psychology
Department of Psychology

Table of Contents

Introduction: Parental Styles of Interaction during Reminiscing and Play: Relations to Children's Attachment...5
Study 1: Gender Differences in Elaborative Parent-Child Emotion and Play Narratives

Title Page...34
Table 1: Coding for Cognitive Elaboration and Joint Engagement...70
Table 2: Mean Words Used by Parents by Gender of Child...71
Table 3: Means for Cognitive Elaboration and Joint Engagement...72
Table 4: Correlations for Cognitive Elaboration...73
Table 5: Correlations for Joint Engagement...74
Appendix A...75

Study 2: Parent-Child Patterns of Reminiscing and Play: Relations to Children's Attachment

Title Page...78
Table 1: Descriptions of the MSSB Story Stems...116
Table 2: Coding for Reminiscing Narratives...117
Table 3: Coding for Free Play Interactions...118
Table 4: Pearson's Correlations between Reminiscing, Play and Attachment...119
Appendix A...120
Appendix B...121


About this Dissertation

Rights statement
  • Permission granted by the author to include this thesis or dissertation in this repository. All rights reserved by the author. Please contact the author for information regarding the reproduction and use of this thesis or dissertation.
  • English
Research Field
Committee Chair / Thesis Advisor
Committee Members
Last modified

Primary PDF

Supplemental Files