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, 27 (3), 944-952

Executive Functioning Predicts Reflective Functioning in Mothers

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Executive Functioning Predicts Reflective Functioning in Mothers

Helena Jv Rutherford et al. J Child Fam Stud.

Abstract

Parental reflective functioning (PRF) describes a parent's capacity for considering both their own and their child's thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, which can help parents to guide interactions with children. Given the cognitive demands of keeping infants in mind whilst caregiving, we examined the association between aspects of executive function (i.e., working memory and set-shifting) and PRF (employing the Parental Reflective Functioning Questionnaire) in recent mothers. In Study 1 (N=50), we found that better working memory was associated with higher levels of maternal interest and curiosity in their child's feelings. In Study 2 (N=68), we found that visual working memory and set-shifting capacity were also associated with higher levels of maternal interest and curiosity in their child's thoughts and feelings. Our results provide preliminary support for the association between executive processes and maternal reflective functioning. The implications of these findings and important future directions are discussed, including advancing our understanding of executive processes and PRF to support the broader family system.

Keywords: executive functions; motherhood; reflective functioning; working memory.

Conflict of interest statement

Disclosure of potential conflicts of interest The authors declare they have no conflicts of interest.

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