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To determine (1) patterns of secure vs insecure attachment relationships in infants of adolescent and nonadolescent mothers and (2) if these patterns are mediated by parenting characteristics, including depression, self-esteem, parenting stress, child abuse potential, psychological distress, rating of infant temperament, and the caregiving environment.
Fifty-one adolescent mothers and their 18-month-old infants were compared with 76 nonadolescent mothers and their 18-month-old infants.
Main Outcome Measures
Infant attachment classifications were assessed via the Ainsworth Strange Situation. Maternal and infant characteristics were obtained through self-report measures.
There were no differences in attachment classification between infants of adolescent mothers and nonadolescent mothers. Secure attachment classification was found in 67% of the infants of adolescent mothers and 62% of the infants of nonadolescent mothers. There were significant differences in the self-reported maternal characteristics. Adolescent mothers reported lower self-esteem (P<.05), more parenting stress (P<.05), more child abuse potential (P<.05), and provided a lower quality of home environment (P<.05) than nonadolescent mothers. Adolescent mothers also rated their infants as having a higher activity level (P<.05) than infants born to nonadolescent mothers. In multivariate analysis, none of these variables or social classes were found to affect attachment classification.
Infants of adolescent and nonadolescent mothers show similar patterns of attachment. Adolescent and nonadolescent mothers show substantial differences in parenting characteristics and in how they rate their infants' temperaments. However, these differences do not seem to impair the infant-mother attachment relationship.
Andreozzi L, Flanagan P, Seifer R, Brunner S, Lester B. Attachment Classifications Among 18-Month-Old Children of Adolescent Mothers. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2002;156(1):20–26. doi:10.1001/archpedi.156.1.20
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