University of Limerick
Costelloe_2016_Fathers.pdf (2.17 MB)

Fathers‘ experiences of developing a relationship with their infant, within the first year: considering an attachment perspective

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posted on 2022-10-19, 14:19 authored by James Costelloe
Introduction: Attachment theory has been used extensively to explore the mother-infant attachment relationship. However, there is a dearth of attachment research focusing on fatherinfant attachment formation, particularly with young infants. The present study aimed to address this by exploring fathers‘ experiences of forming attachments to their infants, within the first year. Method: The researcher interviewed ten fathers across Ireland. All fathers had an infant under the age of one year, and six fathers were first time fathers. Semi-structured interviews were used to explore fathers‘ subjective experiences of forming attachments to their infants. Interviews were transcribed verbatim. Results: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) approach was adopted and revealed a number of superordinate and subordinate themes in the interview data. The superordinate themes included: The Power of Reciprocal Interactions, Engagement and Distancing from Caregiving, Sense of inclusion in the Parenting Process and A Changing Father. Discussion: This research highlighted the complexities of the father-infant attachment and provided current insights into fathers‘ experience of attachment formation with their infants. The findings are discussed in relation to attachment theory and research on fathers‘ experiences, and a number of recommendations for clinical settings are presented (e.g. co-parenting strategies delivered by clinicians). Limitations (e.g. sample demographics) and strengths (e.g. gaining the fathers ―voice‖) of the study are also discussed as well as suggestions for future research.



  • Doctoral

First supervisor

Ryan, Patrick





Department or School

  • Psychology

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