Bridging the transmission gap in attachment : the role of mind-mindedness in mothers and fathers
Antenatal attachment representations (Adult Attachment Interview classification and reflective function), 'mind-mindedness' (Meins, 1997) in relation to the foetus, and attachment to the unborn child (Condon, 1993) were assessed in 25 couples and 3 solo mothers. Families were followed up at 6 months postpartum, at which time infant-parent interaction was observed separately for mothers (N=21) and fathers (N=17). These free-play interactions were coded for parents' sensitivity (Ainsworth, Bell, & Stayton's, 1974) and mind-mindedness (Meins, Femyhough, Fradley, & Tuckey, 2001). Infant-parent attachment security was assessed using the Strange Situation in a further follow-up at 12 months for mothers (№=18) and 15 months for fathers (iV=15), with parents predicting in advance how their infants would react. Parental mind-mindedness in the Strange Situation was also assessed using Meins et al.'s (2001) scheme. The results across the four testing ages largely showed that autonomous AAI classification and RF were both positively associated with parental mind-mindedness, although in general, stronger effects were seen (a) for fathers than for mothers, and (b) using RF rather than AAI classification as the index of parental attachment representations. There was evidence for continuity in mind-mindedness from pregnancy to 6 months in mothers and fathers, but there was less continuity in mind- mindedness across different contexts than was observed over time. With respect to accuracy of parental predictions about attachment behaviours, maternal mindedness both antenatally and at 6 months was positively related to accuracy. Accuracy in mothers was also related to higher levels of sensitivity and RF. Potential pathways from antenatal attachment representations to Strange Situation via indices of infant-parent interaction (mind-mindedness or sensitivity) were explored using a descriptive approach. Regardless of whether high sensitivity or high mind-mindedness was used as the intermediary, autonomous AAI classification related to secure Strange Situation classification. Low sensitivity or mind-mindedness appeared to have a negligible impact on the likelihood of a secure attachment being formed if the parent was autonomous. Non-autonomous AAI classification coupled with low sensitivity or mind-mindedness was similarly strongly related to insecure Strange Situation classification. However, unlike for high sensitivity, having a mind- minded parent appeared to ameliorate the effect of non-autonomous AAI classification on infant attachment security, at least for fathers.