Attachment - the quality of a child's relationship with its mother or principal caregiver - is being seen as increasingly important in psychology. Other factors can affect the context of the mother-child relationship including stressful family circumstances and marital conflict. Close, confiding marriages have been found to be associated with mothers being warmer and more sensitive with their children and fathers having more positive attitudes towards their offspring. Researchers from Purdue University, Indiana, looked at 45 pre-school children. The children were assessed to see how secure their attachment was and the mothers reported on marital conflict, physical aggression towards themselves, exposure of the child to aggression and the use of physical discipline. They found that all four factors were significantly and negatively associated with security and that physical aggression towards the mother was particularly significant.
Posada, German and Pratt, Dawn Marie - Physical aggression in the family and preschoolers' use of the mother as a secure base Journal of Marital and Family Therapy January 2008, 34(1), 14-27