Infants of adolescent and adult mothers: two indices of socioemotional development.
This study compared infant-mother attachment and mastery motivation in one-year-old babies born to adolescent and adult mothers. In the laboratory, the infants' mastery motivation was assessed in an experimenter-administered structured toy play session and infant-mother attachment was classified on the basis of the strange situation procedure. The results indicated that there were more, although not significantly so, securely attached infants among those born to adult than to adolescent mothers (70% as compared to 53%). The relatively low number of securely attached infants in the adolescent mother group may reflect the fact that in many cases the mothers were not the primary caretakers. Among the adolescents, the majority were living with their family of origin. Nevertheless, their infants' motivation to master the environment, assessed independently, compared favorably with that of the adult mother group. Infants of adolescent mothers were significantly more persistent than were those born to adult mothers, although they were affectively less positive during the toy play. It is suggested that the socioemotional development of infants born to adolescent mothers may be buffered by a network containing multiple caretakers. Finally, the relationship between attachment and mastery motivation was examined. The results showed that infants with an avoidant or secure attachment relationship were more persistent as well as competent than were ambivalent infants during free play.
Frodi, A.; Grolnick, W.; Bridges, L.; and Berko, J., "Infants of adolescent and adult mothers: two indices of socioemotional development." (1990). Psychology. 496.