Separation-individuation as a family transactional process in the transition to parenthood

Diana Diamond, Christoph Heinicke, Jim Mintz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


This is a study of the impact of prebirth level of parental and marital individuation on the course of parent-infant and infant development during the first postnatal year. Support was found for the first hypothesis, namely, that a couple's composite individuation profile, taking into account the prebirth separation-individuation of the father and the mother, and their marriage, would be associated with positive infant development and parent-infant transactions related to separation-individuation and mutuality during the first postnatal year. A second hypothesis, that maternal individuation would most strongly predict infant and parent-infant development at 6 months, while paternal individuation would emerge at 1 year as a strong predictor, was not supported. It was found instead that prebirth maternal and paternal individuation were equally strong predictors at six months, while maternal individuation was the primary predictor at 12 months. Other findings on the direct and indirect associations between prebirth parental and marital individuation and postnatal parent-infant transactions suggest that early separation-individuation processes result from a complex configuration of triadic mother-father-infant transactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)24-42
Number of pages19
JournalInfant Mental Health Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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