Reflection in thought and action: Maternal parenting reflectivity predicts mind-minded comments and interactive behavior

Infant Ment Health J. 2008 Jul;29(4):362-376. doi: 10.1002/imhj.20184.


Recent research has identified mothers' mental reflective functioning and verbal mind-minded comments as important predictors of subsequent infant attachment security. In the present study, we examine associations between mothers' (N = 95) parenting reflectivity expressed in an interview and observed parenting behavior, including verbal mind-minded comments and interactive behavior during interaction with their 7-month-old infants. Parenting reflectivity was coded from the Working Model of the Child Interview. Maternal behavior was assessed via observations of mother-infant interaction during free play and structured teaching tasks. Both maternal appropriate mind-minded comments as well as other indicators of maternal interactive behavior were coded. Parenting reflectivity was positively correlated with mind-minded comments and behavioral sensitivity. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses indicated that parenting reflectivity contributed to maternal behavior beyond the contributions of mothers' educational status and depression symptoms. Discussion emphasizes the importance of individual differences in parental capacity to accurately perceive and mentalize their infants' experience, and the consequences of these differences for caregiving behavior.