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Saara Salo, Johanna Sourander, Jari Lipsanen, Marjukka Pajulo & Mirjam Kalland

Fathers’ and mothers’ parental reflective functioning: A follow-up study from pregnancy to two years

Parental reflective functioning has been associated with good parenting skills and secure attachment. However, there are very few follow-up studies from pregnancy into toddlerhood that also separately consider mothers and fathers. In this study we followed parental reflective functioning and its associations with parental well-being (i.e., parenting stress and depressive symptoms), parent’s age, as well as relationship status from pregnancy to three months, and 1 and 2 years of age. The subjects were first-time parents (N=1016 parents in the baseline) who participated in the Families First follow-up study over two years. The mea-sures used were standardized questionnaires. The statistical analyses used were mixed linear models. The results showed an increase in the level of parental reflective functioning from pre- to post-natal period among both mothers and fathers, which remained rather stable up to two years. Mothers’ reflective functioning was higher than fathers’ prenatally and at three months, after which levels grew more similar.

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