Daily parenting engagement among new mothers and fathers: The role of romantic attachment in dual-earner families

Sarah N. Lang, Sarah J. Schoppe-Sullivan, Letitia E. Kotila, Claire M. Kamp Dush

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


We investigated the association of prenatal assessments of mothers' and fathers' self-reported romantic attachment anxiety and avoidance with the time mothers and fathers reported in proximity-focused and exploration-focused engagement with their infants at 9 months postpartum. Our sample of 136 dualearner couples came from a larger longitudinal study of the transition to parenthood. Time in proximityfocused (interactions that emphasize physical or emotional connection) and exploration-focused (activities that stimulate and build knowledge of the world) engagement on workdays and nonworkdays were measured using time diaries. Using actor-partner interdependence models, we found significant acrosspartners associations between romantic attachment and parental engagement. In particular, analyses revealed interesting interactions: fathers higher in avoidance spent more time in exploration-focused engagement on workdays when mothers were more anxious, whereas mothers higher in anxiety spent more time in proximity-focused engagement on nonworkdays when fathers were more avoidant. Moreover, fathers demonstrated a compensatory pattern of engagement in response to mother's greater attachment anxiety or avoidance. Findings support the utility of studying romantic attachment within a family system and extend the literature on correlates of early parental engagement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)862-872
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Family Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Family systems
  • Parent engagement
  • Self-reported romantic attachment
  • Time diaries
  • Transition to parenthood

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