Mother-Child Conversations and Child Memory Narratives: The Roles of Child Gender and Attachment

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This study examined the roles of child gender and attachment in mother-child narrative conversations and child independent narratives. Children (Mage = 56 months) told personal narratives independently and while engaged in narrative conversations with their mothers. The Attachment Story Completion Task-Revised (Verschueren & Marcoen, 1994) measured child attachment representations. Results indicated that attachment was linked to maternal conversational style and child independent narratives. Mothers with secure sons continued their topics more than mothers of secure daughters, and secure boys’ independent narratives were less elaborative than those of secure girls. However, no gender differences were found among insecure dyads. We argue that mothers of secure boys sensitively recognize their sons’ cues within the conversational context and respond to the need for further verbal assistance, thus providing more on-topic replies in narrative conversations.

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