A1 Journal article (refereed)
“I Try to Think Behind My Child’s Cry” : Preparation for Separation Experiences in the Light of Parental Mentalization (2023)

Mellenius, N., Korja, R., Kalland, M., Huttunen, R., Sourander, J., Salo, S., Westerlund-Cook, S., & Junttila, N. (2023). “I Try to Think Behind My Child’s Cry” : Preparation for Separation Experiences in the Light of Parental Mentalization. Journal of Infant, Child, and Adolescent Psychotherapy, 22(3), 290-309. https://doi.org/10.1080/15289168.2023.2240004

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editorsMellenius, Nina; Korja, Riikka; Kalland, Mirjam; Huttunen, Rauno; Sourander, Johanna; Salo, Saara; Westerlund-Cook, Saija; Junttila, Niina

Journal or seriesJournal of Infant, Child, and Adolescent Psychotherapy



Publication year2023

Publication date08/08/2023


Issue number3

Pages range290-309


Publication countryUnited States

Publication languageEnglish


Publication open accessNot open

Publication channel open access


The study focused on expanding the understanding of how parental mentalization (PM) occurs in an ecologically valid context during a toddler’s first transition phase from home care to early childhood education and care (ECEC). Little attention has been paid to understanding how PM occurs during a potentially stressful period of life when preparing for the first experiences of separation between the parent and the toddler. The aim of this phenomenographic study was to distinguish the qualitatively different ways parents (n = 21) experience, conceptualize, perceive, and understand the forthcoming first separation from their toddler (at 10–24 months). The results are presented in the outcome space on the basis of the phenomenographic analysis, which consisted of three categories of description: the parent’s own experiences and orientation for the forthcoming separation phase, the parent’s representation of the child’s forthcoming experiences, and PM indicators. These categories contained 10 subcategories and 480 meaning units. The mentalization indicators provide a broad view of PM in the transition phase, which consists of tolerable and reflective uncertainty. This is where some core functions of PM may be observed, maintaining flexibility toward the reactions of parents themselves and their toddlers.

Keywordsparent-child relationshiphuman relationsparentsparenthoodchildren (family members)children (age groups)toddlersseparatingseparation anxietyexperiences (knowledge)transitional phaseshome careearly childhood education and carephenomenography

Free keywordsmentalisaatio

Contributing organizations

Ministry reportingYes

Reporting Year2023

JUFO rating1

Last updated on 2024-15-05 at 13:16