Quality of father-child interaction in refugee and asylum seeker families: The relation among posttraumatic stress and parental caregiving
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Object. This study provides a comprehensive picture of the quality of interaction between parents, suffering from posttraumatic stress, and their children in refugee and asylum seekers families. The first aim of this study was to examine the influence of parental posttraumatic stress symptoms and the quality of interaction. Present study focused on fathers, because compared to mother-child interaction, little is known about the interaction between father and child. Therefore another aim of this study was to examine the overall quality of the father-child interaction in the refugee and asylum seeker population. In order to do this, a comparison was made with mothers. Measures. Eighty parent-child dyads, consisting of fathers (n=29), mothers (n=51) and their young children (18 till 40 months) participated in this study. Quality of interaction was operationalized as Emotional Availability (Biringen, 2008) and was measured during a free play session. Parents’ posttraumatic stress was measured by completing the Harvard Trauma Questionnaire (Mollica, McInnes, Poole & Thor, 1998). Results. In line with our expectations, posttraumatic symptoms negatively affected Sensitivity, Structuring, Non-intrusiveness and Non-Hostility. No interaction was found between gender and posttraumatic stress. In contrast to what was expected, current study found fathers and mothers to be equally Sensitive, Structured and Non-Intrusive. Our hypothesis with respect to Non-Hostility was confirmed, no differences were found between fathers and mothers on this scale. Conclusions. The results indicate that posttraumatic stress negatively affects quality of interaction. The influence of posttraumatic stress symptoms on the quality of interaction is the same for fathers and mothers. Moreover, no differences were found between refugee and asylum seeker fathers and mothers in the quality of interaction with their child.