The Relationship between Parental Attachment and Competence and Child Psychosocial Adjustment in a Clinically Referred Child Sample

Rachel Eshel, Pace University


The present study examined the relationship between parent/caregiver self-appraisal of attachment and competence and pre-adolescent psychiatric symptoms and psychosocial adjustment. The study explored the independent and interactive effects of parental attachment and competence on child psychosocial outcomes within the overall clinical sample (preadolescents hospitalized for psychiatric reasons), as well as that for the subsets of parents who rated themselves at the extremes for both parental attachment and competence (Clinical Exemplar Parent Groups). Within the overall sample, there were significant relationships between poor parental attachment and nine child outcomes, strong parental attachment and two child outcomes, and poor parental competence and six child outcomes; no interactions between parental attachment and competence were identified. Results of the analyses identified significant group differences between some Clinical Exemplar Parent Groups with regards to five child outcomes and one validity index. There were various important findings from this study. First, the strongest model within the overall clinical sample was parent report of child delinquency, which thereby highlighted the strong independent relationships between poor parental attachment and competence and child delinquency. Second, it was a parent's perception that his/her child was exhibiting externalizing behaviors – and not necessarily the presence of truly severe externalizing features – that closely related to poor parental attachment and competence. Third, extreme parental competence did not serve as an adequate buffer against child depression when a parent felt extremely unattached to his/her child. Fourth, parents of children with psychotic features tended to feel poorly attached to their children, but did feel competent. Fifth, the study elucidated parental reporting phenomena within a clinical child population. That is, parents of children with clinical psychiatric issues who presented overly positive images of themselves were also likely to engage in defensive reporting about their children's issues. Lastly, parent report of extremely high parental attachment when the children exhibited clinical internalizing issues may have indicated the presence of intrusive parenting practices, insecure attachment, and related problems in the parent-child relationship. Keywords: attachment; competence; parenting; parenting stress; Parenting Stress Index; Personality Inventory for Children; pre-adolescents; child; inpatient; psychiatric symptoms

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Eshel, Rachel, "The Relationship between Parental Attachment and Competence and Child Psychosocial Adjustment in a Clinically Referred Child Sample" (2015). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI3663058.



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