Methods: Data were collected from 19 mothers and 19 fathers enrolled in a larger study examining risk and resilience factors in expectant parents. Parents were interviewed during the third trimester of pregnancy and participated in a video-recorded, postnatal, and laboratory-based parenting protocol when their infants were approximately 4 months of age. Parental mind-minded comments were coded using a standardized coding protocol (Meins & Fernyhough, 2010). Parental comments that reflected what the infant may be feeling, thinking, or experiencing were coded as mind-minded. Parental mindfulness was measured with the Five Facets of Mindfulness Scale (Baer, 2008). Psychological distress was a composite of symptoms of depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress. Violence exposure was coded with the Exposure to Violence Scale (Selner-O'Hagan, 1988).
Results: Correlational analyses revealed different patterns of associations with mind-mindedness for mothers and fathers and subsequent analyses were run separately. For fathers, multiple linear regression tested the relationship of violence exposure and mindfulness on their mind-mindedness comments to their infants. The overall model was significant (F (2, 15) = 5.75, p < .05) for both violence exposure (p < .05) and mindfulness (p < .05). For mothers, multiple linear regression tested the relationship of psychological distress and mindfulness on their mind-mindedness comments to their infants. The overall model was significant (F (2, 16) = 6.00, p < .05); psychological distress was significant in step one (p < .01) and retained significance when mindfulness was included in step 2 (p < .05). However, mindfulness was not significant.
Conclusion and Implications: This study advances knowledge about the risk and resilience factors that influence parent-infant relationship development differentially for mothers and fathers during the prenatal period. Data suggest that when predicting to parental mind-mindedness 1) violence exposure may be a more potent risk factor for fathers, whereas current psychological distress is more influential for mothers, and 2) the protective factor of mindfulness may serve as a protective factor for fathers. Findings suggest different intervention targets for mothers and fathers and highlight the importance of providing parenting interventions that begin during pregnancy when the parent-infant relationship is developing.