Attachment styles, desire for parenthood, perceived ability to relate to children and expected advantages and disadvantages of parenthood

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Authors
McNamara, Adele
Issue Date
2009
Degree
BA in Psychology
Publisher
Dublin Business School
Rights
Abstract
The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between adult attachment styles, desire for parenthood and expected advantages and disadvantages of parenthood in Ireland. In a correlational design, 78 participants, 23 males (n=23) and 55 females (n=55), psychology undergraduates of Dublin Business School. The Adult Attachment Questionnaire (AAQ) (Simpson, 1990) and the Desire for Children Questionnaire (Rholes, Simpson, Blakely & Allen, 1995), the Ability to Relate to Children Questionnaire (Rholes, Simpson, Blakely & Allen, 1995) and Bell Parenthood Motivation Scale (Bell, Bancroft, Philip, 1985) were used. Predictor variables were attachment styles, ('insecure-avoidant' and 'anxious-ambivalent') and age. The criterion variable was desire for children, perceived ability to relate to children and motivations for parenthood (expected advantages and disadvantages of parenthood). An Independent samples t-test was used to compare the two age groups 18-25 years and 26-40 years. A significant difference was found between the two age groups (t(71.593) = 2.098 p<.039, 2-tailed) with the younger participants desiring children more. Correlational analyses were used to explore relationships between attachment styles, desire for and feelings about having children. There was a significant relationship between ambivalence and perceived inability to relate to children. (Pearson r=.258, p<0.05, 2-tail) suggesting more ambivalence is related to perceived inability to relate to children. No significant effects were found for avoidance. The results of this study lend partial support to how attachment styles are related to pre-parenthood attitudes about having children and the capacity to be a good parent. Attachment theory provides a useful framework with which to evaluate perceptions of parenting and the parental role and this could further understanding of the intergenerational transmission of insecure attachment. In conclusion, implications of the present findings are discussed and it is asserted that further research is necessary to come to a more robust conclusion.
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