Observations of Paternal Response to Sudden Unanticipated Infant Death

  • Frederick Mandell
  • Elizabeth McAnulty
  • Robert M. Reece


Should we begin to challenge the stereotyped role of the father who loses a child? Mothers have traditionally been the primary caregivers for most infants, and research on the early development of involvement and investment has focused on the mother infant interaction. Professional support provided to families experiencing the loss of an infant to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) has concentrated on understanding the effects of the disruption of bonding and its consequences on the mother’s sense of self. However, fathers also form significant relationships with their infants. Studies of father–neonate relationships are beginning to emerge.1–6 The sudden infant death syndrome brings a drastic and abrupt end to that relationship. Manifestations of grief are seemingly influenced by the traditional expectations of masculine behavior. In Western societies we are only just beginning to observe the emotional importance of father–infant tenderness and loyalty. The behavior of the father in response to the loss of his child is the subject of this report.


Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Perinatal Death Stereotyped Role Infant Interaction Masculine Behavior 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Frederick Mandell
    • 1
  • Elizabeth McAnulty
    • 1
  • Robert M. Reece
    • 1
  1. 1.Children’s Hospital Medical Center and the Massachusetts Sudden Infant Death Syndrome CenterBostonUSA

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