Maternal anger, toddler attachment, and maternal separation anxiety
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While it has been well documented that a strong association exists between parents' internal representations of their own attachment experiences and the quality of their children's attachment to them, there has been a dearth of literature focusing on the representations of their own children that parents construct. Moreover, while a variety of studies have examined toddlerhood from the perspective of the child, parents' emotional experiences during this period of development have been almost ignored. This despite growing evidence that affective experience, and particularly negative affect, plays a central part in the organization of internal representations of relationships. Recently, measures of parents' representations of their children have begun to emerge independently from different laboratories. This study represents a preliminary test of the validity of such an instrument. Focusing on maternal representation of anger, it offers an examination of this aspect of the emotional experience of mothers of toddlers and its relation to the child's behavior and affect related to attachment, as well as its relation to another maternal affective experience: Separation anxiety.;Thirty-seven mothers of toddlers were interviewed using the Parent Development Interview (PDI). They also completed a self-report questionnaire, the Maternal Separation Anxiety Scale (MSAS). In addition, their toddlers were assessed using a version of the Strange Situation procedure modified for children between 19 and 24 months of age. The children were rated on the degree of anger they expressed toward their mothers and the degree of wariness they exhibited toward the stranger during separation from and reunion with the mother. The results provide qualified support for the concurrent validity of the scales on the PDI that assess maternal representation of anger.
Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 53-05, Section: B, page: 2550.