ABSTRACT

Early versions of attachment theory placed fathers in an uncertain position within families . The primary attachment figure was assumed to be the mother, while the father's position was considered secondary and culturally variable. Since 1980, however, there has been a good deal of research developing a more nuanced understanding of children's attachment both to mothers and to fathers . One researcher concluded that while research has shown "fathers to be competent, if sometimes less than fully participant, attachment figures , we still have much to learn regarding father attachment" (Bretherton, 1995, p. 72) . This study explores one of the areas in which there is "much to learn": cases in which a child feels attached to the father but not attached to the mother. Also, there is a recognition that scholars need to focus more on contexts of fathering (Marsiglio, Amato, Day, & Lamb, 2000 ; Marsiglio, Roy, & Fox, 2005), and better understanding ofhow context relates to child-father attachment can create a stronger basis for theories of attachment and of fathering.