ADOLESCENT SECURE-BASE USE AND PARENTAL SECURE-BASE SUPPORT: RELATIONS WITH ADOLESCENT ATTACHMENT SECURITY
The goal of this investigation was to examine whether adolescent (AAI) attachment security could be linked to adolescents’ secure-base use and parents’ securebase support while discussing the adolescent’s developmentally salient task of leaving home after finishing high school. Results indicated that secure adolescents were more likely than insecure adolescents to use their mothers and their fathers as secure bases. Results also indicated that fathers of secure adolescents were more likely than fathers of insecure adolescents to support their adolescents’ secure-base behavior. There was no evidence, however, that mothers of insecure adolescents differed from mothers of secure adolescents in their amounts of secure-base support. Results also indicated that dyadic open communication was greatest in secure adolescent-mother and secure adolescent-father discussions. Secure adolescents were also more likely than insecure adolescents to use at least one parent as a secure-base and to have open dyadic communication with at least one parent.
A central tenet of attachment theory is that security of attachment is reflected in secure-base behavior (Bowlby, 1982, 1973; Bretherton, 1985; Main, Kaplan, & Cassidy, 1985). Through repeated daily experience, secure individuals learn that their attachment figures are accessible, available, and responsive when needed. They develop mental representations (i.e., representational models) of their attachment figures as providers of secure-base support and, as a result, the capacity to use their attachment figures as secure bases from which to explore and, when necessary, as havens of safety to which to return. Insecure individuals, on the other hand, have experienced their attachment figures as inaccessible, unavailable, and unresponsive when needed. These individuals develop negative representational models of their attachment figures as infrequent or inconsistent providers of secure base support and, as a result, have more difficultly than secure individuals in using their attachment figures either as secure bases or as safe havens when needed.