You are here

Good Partner, Good Parent Responsiveness Mediates the Link Between Romantic Attachment and Parenting Style

Millings, A., Walsh, J., Hepper, E., & O’Brien, M. (2013). Good Partner, Good Parent Responsiveness Mediates the Link Between Romantic Attachment and Parenting Style. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 39(2), 170-180.


To consider how both the attachment and caregiving styles of a couple predict their parenting styles toward their child.  Authors postulate that responsiveness reported toward a partner might act as a mediator between romantic attachment and parenting style.

Design:  Cross sectional didactic questionnaire study

Variables Measured, Instruments Used

  1. Experiences in Close Relationships-Revised (ECR-R; Fraley, Walter, & Brennan, 2000) to measure attachment. 
  2. Caregiving Questionnaire (CQ; Kunce & Shaver, 1994) to measure caregiving. 
  3. Parenting Styles and Dimensions Questionniare (PSDQ; Robinson, Mandleco, Olsen, & Hart, 1995) to measure parenting styles – authoritative, authoritarian, and permissive.


  • N= 125 couples
  • Participant ages:  Mean age for men = 39.3, for women = 36.2.  Range 24-55.
  • Location: England
  • Eligibility: Parent of seven-eight year old student’s at co-ed schools in England who responded to a request for participation sent home from the school.
  • SES:  Unknown
  • Additional profile:  89% of men and 99% of women were biological parents.   


  1. This study relied on self –reported measures from a single sample. 
  2. This study did not use observations of caregiving and parenting nor did it examine early caregiving/parenting as the sample was of children who were seven to eight years of age.  


  1. Attachment avoidance and anxiety were both negatively associated with responsive romantic caregiving to partner. 
  2. Responsive caregiving to partner was positively associated with authoritative (optimal) parenting styles. 
  3. Responsive romantic caregiving to partner was negatively associated with authoritarian and permissive (non-optimal) parenting styles. 
  4. Responsive romantic caregiving to partner mediated all links between attachment and parenting.
  5. Attachment anxiety had a direct association with non-optimal parenting styles that was not explained by responsive caregiving.  
  6. Optimal parenting requires the capacity for responsive caregiving, this hold true for both romantic care giving and children alike.