Associations between early caregiving and rural, low-SES, African-American children’s representations of attachment relationships

Geoffrey L. Brown, Hanna C. Gustafsson, W. Roger Mills-Koonce, Martha J. Cox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Little research has examined the legacy of early maternal care for later attachment representations among low-income and ethnic minority school-aged children. Using data from a sample of 276 rural, low-income, African-American families, this study examined associations between maternal care in infancy and children’s representations of attachment figures in middle childhood. Maternal care was coded from 10-min home-based observations at 6, 15, and 24 months of age. Representations of attachment figures were assessed using the Manchester Child Attachment Story Task at 6 years of age. Sensitive maternal care in infancy was not significantly related to attachment security or episodic disorganized behaviors in children’s representations. However, children exposed to more harsh–intrusive parenting during infancy displayed less secure representations of attachment figures in middle childhood and more episodic disorganized behaviors, even after controlling for numerous child and family contextual covariates. Findings inform conceptualizations of attachment formation among rural, low-income, African-American parent–child dyads.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)340-363
Number of pages24
JournalAttachment and Human Development
Volume19
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 4 2017

Keywords

  • African-American families
  • Attachment
  • MCAST
  • harsh–intrusive parenting
  • sensitivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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