Maternal employment in a family context: effects on infant-mother and infant-father attachments.

P. L. Chase-Lansdale*, M. T. Owen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


The relation between resumption of full-time employment by mothers of infants under 6 months of age, and subsequent infant-mother and infant-father attachments, was examined in this study. Attachment classifications and ratings of reunion behavior with mother and with father in Ainsworth's Strange Situation at 12 months were obtained for 57 nonemployed-mother families and 40 employed-mother families. No relation emerged between maternal work status and the quality of infants' attachments to their mothers, indicating that early resumption of employment may not impede the development of secure infant-mother attachment. A significantly higher proportion of insecure attachments to fathers in employed-mother families was found for sons but not for daughters. Joint examination of the infants' attachments to both parents revealed a trend suggesting that in employed-mother families, boys were more likely to be insecurely attached to both parents than were girls in employed-mother families or infants of either sex in nonemployed-mother families. These patterns are discussed in light of differences in maternal and paternal sex-typing behavior and of evidence suggesting boys' vulnerability to psychosocial stress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1505-1512
Number of pages8
JournalChild development
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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