The goal of our study was to examine whether differences in the sensitivity and intrusiveness of fathers and mothers from gay-, lesbian-, and heterosexual-parent families (57 French couples, 47 Dutch couples, and 31 British couples) with their first-born infants were explained by gender or caregiver role, while controlling for nesting within families, infant temperament, and twinship. We assessed the sensitivity and intrusiveness of 147 primary caregivers (45 fathers, 102 mothers) and 123 secondary caregivers (68 fathers and 55 mothers). All infants were conceived using assisted reproductive techniques and averaged 4 months of age. They were videotaped at home with both parents while engaged in play, feeding, and other childcare (bathing or changing) and these videotapes were coded for sensitivity and intrusiveness. Information about relative levels of caregiving, infant temperament, and twinship was collected via parent report questionnaires. Mixed linear models showed that sensitivity while playing, cleaning, and feeding were not predicted by parental gender, relative parental involvement, and the interaction between parental gender and parental caregiver role. Models for intrusiveness while playing and feeding showed similar results. However, intrusiveness during cleaning was predicted by parental gender and the interaction between parental gender and caregiver role. Post-hoc analyses showed that secondary caregiving fathers showed more intrusive behavior during cleaning (M = 1.51, SD = 0.09) than secondary caregiving mothers (M = 1.26, SD = 0.10). Our results also showed that contextual factors, such as having singletons or twins, infant temperament, and country of residence were related to parenting behavior. In sum, our findings do not support presumptions that mothers are more capable of providing better quality care than fathers, or that, at this early stage, primary caregiving parents are better attuned to their infants than those who are less involved.
|Number of pages||11|
|Journal||Early Childhood Research Quarterly|
|Early online date||16 Oct 2021|
|Publication status||Published - 2022|
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported, under the auspices of the Open Research Area (Application BO 3973/1-1; Principal Investigator, Michael E Lamb), by grants from the UK Economic and Social Research Council [ESRC; grant number ES/K006150/1, Principal Investigator, Michael E. Lamb]; The Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek for Scientific Research [NWO; grant number 464-11-001, Principal Investigator, Henny Bos]; the French Agence Nationale de la Recherche [ANR; grant number ANR-12-ORAR-00005-01, Principal Investigator, Olivier Vecho] whose support is gratefully acknowledged.
© 2021 The Author(s)