Skip to main content
×
Home

Attachment in young children with incarcerated fathers

  • Julie Poehlmann-Tynan (a1), Cynthia Burnson (a1), Hilary Runion (a1) and Lindsay A. Weymouth (a1)
Abstract
Abstract

The present study examined young children's attachment behaviors during paternal incarceration and reported on initial validity of a new measure used to rate children's attachment-related behaviors and emotions during visits in a corrections setting. Seventy-seven children, age 2 to 6 years, and their jailed fathers and current caregivers participated in the home visit portion of the study, whereas 28 of these children participated in the jail visit. The results indicated that 27% of children witnessed the father's crime and 22% of children witnessed the father's arrest, with most children who witnessed these events exhibiting extreme distress; children who witnessed these events were more likely to have insecure attachments to their caregivers. Consistent with attachment theory and research, caregivers who exhibited more sensitivity and responsivity during interactions with children and those who provided more stimulating, responsive, learning-oriented home environments had children who were more likely to have secure attachments (measured with the Attachment Q-Sort). We also found preliminary evidence for the validity of our new measure, the Jail Prison Observation Checklist, in that children's attachment-related behaviors and emotions during the jail visit correlated with their attachment security observed in the home. Our observations indicate that, in certain contexts, noncontact visits with incarcerated parents can be stressful for children and that children's caregivers may play a significant role during these visits.

Copyright
Corresponding author
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Julie Poehlmann-Tynan, Human Development and Family Studies, University of Wisconsin–Madison, 1300 Linden Drive, Madison, WI 53706; E-mail: julie.poehlmanntynan@wisc.edu.
Footnotes
Hide All

This research was supported by a grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R21HD068581, Principal Investigator J.P.-T.) as well as a center grant from the National Institutes of Health that funds the Waisman Center at the University of Wisconsin–Madison (P30HD03352, Principal Investigator Marsha Mailick). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH. Special thanks to the Racine, Dane, and Sauk County Sheriff's offices and jail staff for their support of the project; to Beverlee Baker, Susan Bulla, Sarah Maleck, Mary Huser, and Sue Nagelkerk from University of Wisconsin–Extension for their work on the project; to numerous undergraduate students for assistance with data collection and coding; and to the families who participated in this research.

Footnotes
References
Hide All
Aaron L., & Dallaire D. H. (2010). Parental incarceration and multiple risk experiences: Effects on family dynamics and children's delinquency. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 39, 14711484. doi:10.1007/s10964-009-9458-0
Arditti J. A. (2012). Parental incarceration and the family: Psychological and social effects of imprisonment on children, parents, and caregivers. New York: New York University Press.
Arditti J. A., Lambert-Shute J., & Joest K. (2003). Saturday morning at the jail: Implications of incarceration for families and children. Family Relations, 52, 195204.?doi:10.1111/j.1741-3729.2003.00195.x
Bowlby J. (1982). Attachment and loss: Vol. 1. Attachment. New York: Basic Books. (Original work published 1969)
Bowlby J. (1973) Attachment and loss: Vol. 2. Separation: Anxiety and anger. New York: Basic Books.
Bronfenbrenner U. (1979). Contexts of child rearing: Problems and prospects. American Psychologist, 34, 844. doi:10.1037/0003-066x.34.10.844
Bronfenbrenner U. (2005). Making human beings human: Bioecological perspectives on human development. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Bronfenbrenner U., & Ceci S. J. (1993). Heredity, environment, and the question “How?”: A first approximation. In Plomin R. & McClearn G. E. (Eds.), Nature, nurture, and psychology (pp. 313324). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Bronfenbrenner U., & Ceci S. J. (1994). Nature-nurture reconceptualized in developmental perspective: A bioecological model. Psychological Review, 101, 568. doi:10.1037/0033-295x.101.4.568
Bronfenbrenner U., & Morris P. A. (2006). The bioecological model of human development. In R. M. Lerner (Vol. Ed.) & W. Damon & R. M. Lerner (Series Eds.), Handbook of child psychology: Vol. 1. Theoretical models of human development (6th ed., pp. 793828). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Byrne M. W., Goshin L. S., & Joestl S. S. (2010). Intergenerational transmission of attachment for infants raised in a prison nursery. Attachment & Human Development, 12, 375393. doi:10.1080/14616730903417011
Caldwell B. M., & Bradley R. H. (2001). Home Observation for Measurement of the Environment (3rd ed.). Little Rock, AR: University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
Carlson E. A., Hostinar C. E., Mliner S. B., & Gunnar M. R. (2014). The emergence of attachment following early social deprivation. Development and Psychopathology, 26, 479489. doi:10.1017/S0954579414000078
Carson E. A. (2014). Prisoners in 2013. Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Cassidy J., Ziv Y., Stupica B., Sherman L. J., Butler H., Karfgin A., … Powell B. (2010). Enhancing attachment security in the infants of women in a jail-diversion program. Attachment & Human Development, 12, 333353. doi:10.1080/14616730903416955
Clark R. (2014). The Parent-Child Early Relational Assessment (PCERA). Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Medical School, Department of Psychiatry. (Original work published 1985)
Clark S. E., & Symons D. K. (2000). A longitudinal study of Q-sort attachment security and self-processes at age 5. Infant and Child Development, 9, 91104. doi:10.1002/1522-7219(200006)9:2<91::AID-ICD218>3.0.CO;2-O
Dallaire D. H., Ciccone A., & Wilson L. C. (2012). The family drawings of at-risk children: Concurrent relations with contact with incarcerated parents, caregiver behavior, and stress. Attachment & Human Development, 14, 161183.
Dallaire D. H., & Wilson L. C. (2010). The relation of exposure to parental criminal activity, arrest, and sentencing to children's maladjustment. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 19, 404418. doi:10.1007/s10826-009-9311-9
Dallaire D. H., Zeman J., & Thrash T. (2015). Differential effects of type of children's contact with their jailed mothers and children's behavior problems. In Poehlmann-Tynan J. (Ed.), Children's contact with incarcerated parents (pp. 2338). Basel, Switzerland: Springer International.
De Falco S., Emer A., Martini L., Rigo P., Pruner S., & Venuti P. (2014). Predictors of mother-child interaction quality and child attachment security in at-risk families. Attachment assessment in treatments, prevention and intervention programs. Frontiers in Psychology , 5, 2938. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00898
De Wolff M. S., & van IJzendoorn M. H. (1997). Sensitivity and attachment: A meta-analysis on parental antecedents of infant attachment. Child Development, 68, 571591.
Diener M., Nievar M. A., & Wright C. (2003). Attachment security between disadvantaged young children and their mothers: Associations with maternal, child and contextual characteristics. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 49, 154182. doi:10.1353/mpq.2003.0007
Durik A. M., Hyde J. S., & Clark R. (2000). Sequelae of cesarean and vaginal deliveries: Psychosocial outcomes for mothers and infants. Developmental Psychology, 36, 251. doi:10.1037/0012-1649.36.2.251
Eddy J. M., Martinez C. R., & Burraston B. (2013). A randomized controlled trial of a parent management training program for incarcerated parents: Proximal impacts. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 78(3, Serial No. 308), 7593.
Edwards E. P., Eiden R. D., & Leonard K. E. (2006). Behavior problems in 18- to 36-month-old children of alcoholic fathers: Secure mother–infant attachment as a protective factor. Development and Psychopathology, 18, 395407.
Eiden R. D., Edwards E. P., & Leonard K. E. (2002). Mother–infant and father–infant attachment among alcoholic families. Development and Psychopathology, 14, 253278.
Geller A., Cooper C. E., Garfinkel I., Schwartz-Soicher O., & Mincy R. B. (2012). Beyond absenteeism: Father incarceration and child development. Demography, 49, 4976. doi:10.1007/s13524-011-0081-9
Geller A., Garfinkel I., Cooper C. E., & Mincy R. B. (2009). Parental incarceration and child well-being: Implications for urban families. Social Science Quarterly, 90, 11861202. doi:10.1111/j.1540-6237.2009.00653.x
Glaze L. E., & Maruschak L. M. (2008). Parents in prison and their minor children. Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs.
International Association of Chiefs of Police (2014). Safeguarding children of arrested parents. Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance.
Markson L., Lamb M. E., & Losel F. (2016). The impact of contextual family risks on prisoners’ children's behavioural outcomes and the potential protective role of family functioning moderators. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 13, 325340.
McHale J. P., Salman S., Strozier A., & Cecil D. K. (2013). Triadic interactions in mother-grandmother coparenting systems following maternal release from jail. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 78(3, Serial No. 308), 5774.
Minton T. D., & Zeng Z. (2015). Jail Inmates at Mid-Year 2014. Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Murphey D., & Cooper P. M. (2015). Parents behind bars: What happens to their children? Washington, DC: Child Trends.
Murray J., Farrington D. P., & Sekol I. (2012). Children's antisocial behavior, mental health, drug use, and educational performance after parental incarceration: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 138, 175.
Nesmith A., & Ruhland E. (2008). Children of incarcerated parents: Challenges and resiliency, in their own words. Children and Youth Services Review, 30, 11191130. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2008.02.006
Poehlmann J. (2005a). Representations of attachment relationships in children of incarcerated mothers. Child Development, 76, 679696. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8624.2005.00871.x
Poehlmann J. (2005b). Children's family environments and intellectual outcomes during maternal incarceration. Journal of Marriage and Family, 67, 12751285.
Poehlmann J. (2005c). Incarcerated mothers’ contact with children, perceived family relationships, and depressive symptoms. Journal of Family Psychology, 19, 350.
Poehlmann J. (2012). Jail-Prison Observation Checklist. Unpublished manuscript, University of Wisconsin–Madison.
Poehlmann J., Dallaire D., Loper A. B., & Shear L. D. (2010). Children's contact with their incarcerated parents: Research findings and recommendations. American Psychologist, 65, 575.
Poehlmann-Tynan J. (2015). Children's contact with incarcerated parents: Summary and recommendations. In Poehlmann-Tynan J. (Ed.), Children's contact with incarcerated parents (pp. 8392). Basel, Switzerland: Springer International.
Poehlmann-Tynan J., & Eddy J. M. (Eds.). (2013). Relationship processes and resilience in children with incarcerated parents. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 78(3, Serial No. 308), viiviii.
Poehlmann-Tynan J., Runion H., Burnson C., Maleck S., Weymouth L., Pettit K., & Huser M. (2015). Young children's behavioral and emotional reactions to plexiglas and video visits with jailed parents. In Poehlmann-Tynan J. (Ed.), Children's contact with incarcerated parents (pp. 3958). Basel, Switzerland: Springer International.
Raghunathan T. E., Lepkowski J. M., van Hoewyk J., & Solenberger P. A. (2001). A multivariate technique for multiply imputing missing values using a sequence of regression models. Survey Methodology, 27, 8595. doi:10.1016/j.csda.2015.08.004
Selzer M. L. (1971). The Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test (MAST): The quest for a new diagnostic instrument. American Journal of Psychiatry, 127, 16531658.
Shlafer R., Hindt L. A., & Davis L. (2015). Adapting an observation checklist for use with older children and adolescents of jailed parents. Paper presented at the Society for Research in Child Development Biennial Meeting, Philadelphia, PA.
Shlafer R. J., Loper A. B., & Schillmoeller L. (2015). Introduction and literature review: Is parent-child contact during parental incarceration beneficial? In Poehlmann-Tynan J. (Ed.), Children's contact with incarcerated parents (pp. 121). Basel, Switzerland: Springer International.
Shlafer R. J., & Poehlmann J. (2010). Attachment and caregiving relationships in families affected by parental incarceration. Attachment & Human Development, 12, 395415.
Skinner H. (1982). The Drug Abuse Screening Test. Addictive Behavior, 7, 363371.
Turney K., & Wildeman C. (2015). Detrimental for some? Heterogeneous effects of maternal incarceration on child wellbeing. Criminology & Public Policy, 14, 125156. doi:10.1111/1745-9133.12109
Van Buuren S. (2007). Multiple imputation of discrete and continuous data by fully conditional specification. Statistical Methods in Medical Research, 16, 219242.
van IJzendoorn M. H., Vereijken C. M., Bakermans-Kranenburg M. J., & Marianne Riksen-Walraven J. (2004). Assessing attachment security with the attachment Q sort: Meta-analytic evidence for the validity of the observer AQS. Child Development, 75, 11881213. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8624.2004.00733.x
Vaughn B. E., & Waters E. (1990). Attachment behavior at home and in the laboratory: Q-Sort observations and Strange Situation classification of one-year-olds. Child Development, 61, 19651973. doi:10.2307/1130850
Villalobos-Gallegos L., Pérez-López A., Mendoza-Hassey R., Graue-Moreno J., & Marín-Navarrete R. (2015). Psychometric and diagnostic properties of the Drug Abuse Screening Test (DAST): Comparing the DAST-20 vs. the DAST-10. Salud Mental, 38, 8994.
Wakefield S., & Wildeman C. (2011). Mass imprisonment and racial disparities in childhood behavioral problems. Criminology & Public Policy, 10, 793817. doi:10.1111/j.1745-9133.2011.00740.x
Wakefield S., & Wildeman C. (2013). Children of the prison boom: Mass incarceration and the future of American inequality. New York: Oxford University Press.
Waters E., & Deane K. E. (1985). Defining and assessing individual differences in attachment relationships: Q-Methodology and the organization of behavior in infancy and early childhood. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 50(1–2, Serial No. 209), 4165.
Wildeman C. (2009). Parental imprisonment, the prison boom, and the concentration of childhood disadvantage. Demography, 46, 265280. doi:10.1353/dem.0.0052
Wildeman C. (2010). Paternal incarceration and children's physically aggressive behaviors: Evidence from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study. Social Forces, 89, 285309. doi:10.1353/sof.2010.0055
Wildeman C., Schnittker J., & Turney K. (2012). Despair by association? The mental health of mothers with children by recently incarcerated fathers. American Sociological Review, 77, 216243. doi:10.1177/0003122411436234
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Development and Psychopathology
  • ISSN: 0954-5794
  • EISSN: 1469-2198
  • URL: /core/journals/development-and-psychopathology
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 59
Total number of PDF views: 332 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 771 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 12th April 2017 - 14th December 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.