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Acta Psychologica Sinica
Multiple attachment relationships and the impacts on children’s socio-emotional development under the background of grandmother co-parenting
XING Shufen; LIANG Xi; YUE Jianhong; WANG Zhengyan
(Beijing Key Laboratory of Learning and Cognition and Department of Psychology, Cap ital Normal University, Beijing 100048, China)
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In China, grandparent caring is a very common phenomenon. The quality of the mother-child and grandmother- child attachment relationships has a great impact on the children’s socio-emotional development. Up to now, however, the concurrent relation between children’s socio-emotional competence and the quality of their attachment to the mothers and grandmothers has not been explored. This study separately assessed the quality of children’s attachment to mothers and grandmothers, thus we could examine the quality and concordance of the mother-child and grandmother-child attachment, and could also explore their relative predictive power and joint effects on children’s socio-emotional competence. Participants were recruited from Beijing’s major communities and websites. 72 mothers, grandmothers, and their children (including 38 boys) participated in our project. All the children were the first fetus and in good health. They were taken care of by grandmothers when their mothers were at work. The time of the grandmother caregiving was not less than 10 hours per week. Using Attachment Q-Sort, 72 children’s (M = 17.51 months) attachment security of mother-child and grandmother-child was examined in two successive sessions, and children’s socio-emotional development was simultaneously measured by Infant- toddler social and emotional assessment (containing four domains: Externalizing, Internalizing, Dysregulation and Competence). The results showed that: (1) In the background of grandmother co-parenting, most of the children could form secure attachment relationships with mothers and grandmothers. The security level of the mother-child attachment was higher than that of the grandmother-child attachment. (2) There was a moderate correlation between the mother-child attachment and the grandmother-child attachment. 36 percent of the children’s mother-child attachment security was dis-concordant with the grandmother-child attachment security. (3) Regression analysis showed that compared with the grandmother-child attachment security, the quality of the mother-child attachment had greater relative predictive power on children’s socio-emotional development, supporting the hierarchical organization hypothesis. (4) With two secure attachment relationships, the children’s scores of Externalizing domain and Internalizing domain were significantly lower than those of the other three groups of children. The quality of the mother-child and grandmother-child attachment relationships could not compensate for each other. The mother-child attachment and the grandmother-child attachment had an interactive effect on children’s Dysregulation domain. We firstly examined the effects of the mother-child and grandmother-child attachment for children’s outcomes in the multiple attachments framework, so this study has certain exploration and pioneering. Up to now, studies exploring the effect of the mother-child and father-child attachment on children’s development have found that a secure attachment with at least one parent was a key factor that offset risks for children’s development. But we found that the mother-child and grandmother-child attachment relationships of the present study could not buffer or compensate each other. This shows the effects of the father caregiving and the grandmother caregiving for the children’s development, and they are perhaps essentially different. Therefore the impact of mother and father on children’s development could not be replaced with the grandmother. The influence of the grandmother on the children’s development may be regarded as “icing on the cake”, while the father can play a buffer role or compensate for the children’s disadvantages.

Keywords multiple attachment      grandmother caregiving      co-parenting      child      socio-emotional development     
Corresponding Authors: WANG Zhengyan, E-mail:    
Issue Date: 25 May 2016
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XING Shufen
YUE Jianhong
WANG Zhengyan
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XING Shufen,LIANG Xi,YUE Jianhong, et al. Multiple attachment relationships and the impacts on children’s socio-emotional development under the background of grandmother co-parenting[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2016.00518
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