Mind-Mindedness in Parents of Looked After Children

Sarah Fishburn, Elizabeth Meins , Sarah Greenhow, Christine Jones , Simon Hackett , Biehal Nina , Helen Baldwin, Linda Cusworth, Jim Wade

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    The studies reported here aimed to test the proposal that mind-mindedness is a quality of personal relationships by assessing mind-mindedness in caregiver– child dyads in which the relationship has not spanned the child’s life or in which the relationship has been judged dysfunctional. Studies 1 and 2 investigated differences in mind-mindedness between adoptive parents (ns _ 89, 36) and biological parents from the general population (ns _ 54, 114). Both studies found lower mind-mindedness in adoptive compared with biological parents. The results of Study 2 showed that this group difference was independent of parental mental health and could not fully be explained in terms of children’s behavioural difficulties. Study 3 investigated differences in mind-mindedness in foster carers (n _ 122), parents whose children had been the subject of a child protection plan (n _ 172), and a community sample of biological parents (n _ 128). The level of mind-mindedness in foster carers and parents who were involved with child protection services was identical and lower than that in the community sample; children’s behavioral difficulties could not account for the difference between the 2 groups of biological parents. In all 3 studies, nonbiological carers’ tendency to describe their children with reference to preadoption or placement experiences was negatively related to mind-mindedness. These findings are in line with mind-mindedness being a relational construct.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1954-1965
    Number of pages12
    JournalDevelopmental Psychology
    Issue number10
    Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2017


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