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22-08-2017 | Original Paper | Uitgave 1/2018

Journal of Child and Family Studies 1/2018

The Parental Reflective Functioning Questionnaire in Mothers and Fathers of School-Aged Children

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 1/2018
Chiara Pazzagli, Elisa Delvecchio, Veronica Raspa, Claudia Mazzeschi, Patrick Luyten


Research on parental reflective functioning (PRF)—defined as parents’ capacity to comprehend the developing mind of their child, reflect upon it, and hold in mind the inner life of the child—has mostly involved mothers of infants and young children, and rarely fathers and parents of school-aged children. The present study sought to extend research on PRF by examining aspects of the construct that are still scarcely explored, such as the role of gender and attachment; to investigate whether there were differences between mothers’ and fathers’ PRF and whether there were differences in PRF related to the gender and age of the child; and, finally, to assess the association between PRF and each parent’s attachment style. The Parental Reflective Functioning Questionnaire (PRFQ) and the Attachment Style Questionnaire (ASQ) were administered to a community sample of mothers and fathers of 385 children aged 3–10 years. A multi-group factor analysis supported the hypothesized three-factor model among both fathers and mothers. Univariate and multivariate analyses of variance showed that mothers had higher levels of interest and curiosity in their children’s mental states than fathers. Parents of daughters showed higher pre-mentalizing modes than parents of sons. Parents of preschool children showed less nonmentalizing modes than parents of children aged 8–10. Correlations between PRFQ and ASQ showed that both mothers’ and fathers’ interest in thinking about their child’s internal experience and in taking the child’s perspective were correlated with higher levels of secure attachment style. Research implications are discussed.

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