Mother-infant and father-infant attachment among alcoholic families

Rina Das Eiden, Ellen Peterson Edwards, Kenneth E. Leonard

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81 Citations (SciVal)


This study examined the association between fathers' alcoholism and other risk factors such as parental depression, family conflict, infant temperament, and parent-infant attachment. The quality of parent-infant interactions was hypothesized to be a proximal mediator of the associations among alcoholism and other risk factors and attachment. The participants were 223 families (104 nonalcoholic families and 119 alcoholic families) with 12-month-old infants recruited through birth records. Infants in families with two parents with alcohol problem had significantly higher rates of insecure attachment with both parents. Structural Equations Modeling indicated that the fathers' alcohol problem was associated with lower paternal sensitivity (higher negative affect, lower positive engagement, and lower sensitive responding) during father-infant play interactions, and this in turn was associated with higher risk for infant attachment insecurity with fathers. The association between the fathers' alcohol problem and infant attachment security with the mother was mediated by maternal depression, and maternal alcohol problems and family conflict were associated with maternal sensitivity during play interactions. These results indicate that the fathers' alcoholism is associated with higher family risk including the quality of the parent-infant relationship; infant attachment develops in a family context; and this context has a significant association with attachment security.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)253-278
Number of pages26
JournalDevelopment and Psychopathology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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