Title

Caregiving, emotional involvement, and parent‐infant play

Document Type

Article

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Early Child Development and Care

Volume

34

Issue

1

Publisher

Taylor and Francis

Publication Date

1988

First Page

191

Last Page

199

DOI

10.1080/0300443880340114

Abstract

This study investigated the relationships among mothers’ and fathers’ self‐reports of caregiving and emotional involvement with their infants, and parent and infant interaction in a play situation. Twenty 4‐month‐old infants were observed for 5 minutes with each parent. Frequency and duration of parent and infant gazing and parent touching were recorded. Mothers and fathers also each indicated their emotional involvement with their infant on a 7 point scale, and their estimates of the proportion of caregiving provided by each parent. Fathers averaged 20.4% of caregiving, ranging from 2% to 55%. For fathers, but not mothers, caregiving was positively correlated with emotional involvement with their infants, the total time they spent touching their infants, the average length of their touches, and the frequency of their gazes at their infants. Infant behaviors were unrelated to either caregiving or emotional involvement of either parent. Although comparison of actual behavioral measures did not demonstrate differences between mothers and fathers, the patterns of correlations between parent and infant behavior were markedly different for mothers and fathers. The results provide empirical evidence of potential benefits of increased involvement of fathers in infant care and expand our knowledge of differences between mothers and fathers.

Comments

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