Fathers and Families: Locating the Ghost in the Nursery

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Infant mental-health clinicians and researchers have tended to focus particularly on the mother–infant dyad and, in Fraiberg's terms, on the “ghosts” that the mother brings to the nursery. This article begins by reiterating the case for paying as much attention to the “ghosts” that the father brings if we are to maximize our therapeutic impact. It is argued further, however, that over and above the father's individual role, what is more critical for the developing infant's future mental health is the nature of the parental couple that he/she encounters. That is, it is the relationship between the parents and their interactions that creates the emotional climate into which the infant is born and that determines the nature of the “internal” parental couple that they in turn will acquire. It is argued that the couple's relationship therefore needs to be the primary focus for our therapeutic interventions. Clinical material is presented to illustrate these points.


Related Topics

  • Behavioral Health
  • Child Welfare
  • Fathers/Partners
  • Parenting
  • Trauma