Year

2000

Degree Name

Master of Science (Hons.)

Department

Department of Nursing

Abstract

This study aimed to investigate the Raphael-Leff model of paternal orientation and to assess whether fathers could be meaningfully distinguished in terms of attachment style, early bonding experiences and sex-role identity. A 19 question attitudinal survey was administered to a sample of 101 first-time expectant fathers (age range 16-41 years) recruited fi-om the early parenting classes and antenatal clinics within two public hospitals in the Illawarra. Fathers also filled in the Parental Bonding Instrument (PBI; Parker, Tupling & Brown 1979 ), the Relationship Questionnaire (RQ; Bartholomew & Horowitz 1991) and the Personal Description Questionnaire (Antill, Cunningham, Russell & Thompson 1981). Findings of this study supported the Raphael-Leff model and added to it. According to a new instrument designed to classify fathers according to the Raphael-Leff model, 55% of the sample classified as participators (n= 50), 44% as reciprocators (n=44) and 1% as renouncers (n=l). The participator group were more likely to have a secure attachment style and positive internal working models of others. The reciprocator group in contrast, were more likely to have an insecure and avoidant attachment style and negative internal working models of others. Fathers with secure attachment were more likely than fathers with insecure attachment to have a positive sex-role identity (ie. masculine, feminine or androgynous ) than a negative sex-role identity (ie.undifferentiated). Androgynous men were significantly more likely to intend to nurture their baby and to feel competent with a newborn than masculine men and men who did not strongly identify with any sex-role orientation. No significant relationship was found between early bonding or sex-role identity and fathering styles. However, a relationship was found between early bonding and the expectant father's current relationship with his own father. The implications of this research are that fathers with secure attachment and positive internal working models of others are more likely to be participators, and fathers with insecure attachment and negative internal working models of others are more likely to be reciprocators. Recommendation is made that the instrument is refined and tested on more samples of expectant fathers. This research suggests that the reciprocator group may be predisposed to prenatal and postnatal distress and find the transition to parenthood more difficult because of insecure attachment and negative internal working models, a hypothesis that requires testing in future studies. Midwives need to be sensitive to the different paternal orientations and the significance this has for fathers participating in the perinatal period and to early parenting. The current practice of midwives, which often neglects the dyadic relationship in which most women give birth, may not be addressing the psychological needs of the father.

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