Prenatal predictors of family rituals : examining the contributions of parents' attachment representations and marital communication
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Research has demonstrated the importance of meaningful family rituals for children’s social and emotional development. No studies, however, have investigated predictors of family ritual quality. The identification of predictors of family ritual quality is important for understanding why some families create and enact meaningful family rituals while others do not. The purpose of this study was to examine relationships among adult attachment representations, marital communication, and the quality of family routines and traditions, or family rituals, using a prospective, longitudinal design. Prior to the birth of their first child, 125 couples participated in the Adult Attachment Interview, and a marital communication task. A subsample of 76 mothers and 67 fathers completed the Family Rituals Questionnaire when their first child was 7 years old. Different patterns of relationships between attachment representations and family rituals were found for mothers and fathers. Maternal insecure attachment was associated with higher routinization of family rituals, and insecure mothers married to insecure men also reported greater routinization. Fathers in couples in which spouses’ attachment classifications differed reported lower meaning in family rituals than did fathers in couples in which partners’ attachment v classifications were similar. Insecure men married to secure women had the least meaningful family rituals. No relationships between marital communication and family ritual quality were found. This study shed light on prenatal predictors of the quality of later family rituals and illustrated patterns of gender differences in perceptions of family rituals. The implications of the findings for parent education and intervention programs are discussed.