Adult Attachment Styles, the Desire to Have Children, and Working Models of Parenthood


  • The first two authors contributed equally to this research. This research was partially supported by National Institute of Mental Health Grant MH49599 to Jeffry A. Simpson and W. Steven Rholes.

Address correspondence to either W. Steven Rholes or Jeffry A. Simpson, Department of Psychology, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-4235.


ABSTRACT College students who had yet to marry and begin a family were asked about their desire to have children and their beliefs and expectations about themselves as parents (Study 1) and the characteristics of their prospective children (Study 2). Persons with more avoidant and anxious-ambivalent models of close adult relationships harbored more negative models of parent-hood and parent-child relationships. These findings indicate that working models of parenting and parent-child relationships form well before marriage and the birth of children and that these models are systematically associated with attachment styles in adult relationships. The findings also suggest ways in which insecure attachments between child and parent may be influenced by the caregiver's models of parenting and parent-child relationships.