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This study examined differences between mothers and fathers in how they touched their preterm infants and the relationships of parental touch to infant gender and to the parents' state of mind regarding touch. There were no differences in the ways that parents touched boys versus girls or in their use of nurturing and stimulating touch. However, fathers touched their infants more frequently than mothers and in more complex ways. A father's experience with touch in his family of origin was related to the ways he touched his infant although evidence of these intergenerational effects was not found for mothers. For all parents, their personal satisfaction with the touch they experienced in their current lives was associated with the ways they touched their infants. However, results suggest that mothers and fathers have different psychological strategies for grappling with their own perceived tactile deprivation or abuse from touch.
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Sandra J. Weiss, Ph.D., D.N.Sc., F.A.A.N. and Peggy Walsh Goebel, R.N., D.N.Sc.
Dr. Weiss is a Professor at the University of California, San Francisco, Department of Community Health Systems. Please address correspondence about this article to: Sweiss@itsa.ucsf.edu, N 511P, Box 0608, 2 Koret Way, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143-0608. Dr. Goebel is a Clinical Instructor at Santa Rosa Junior College, Santa Rosa, California.
This research was funded by the NIH, NINR # RO1 NR02698 and the Gerena McGowan Trust.