Who Does What When Partners Become Parents
Forty-seven couples who were first-time parents were assessed in late pregnancy and again at 6 and 18 months postpartum. Fifteen couples not yet decided about having a baby were assessed at equivalent times. Actual involvement in household, decision-making, and childcare roles was determined by responses to a 36-item "Who Does What?" questionnaire. Psychological involvement in parent, partner, and worker roles was also determined, as was each partner's satisfaction with behavioral and psychological involvement in each domain. On the basis of global analyses, previous studies have suggested that new parents adopt more traditional roles. Item analyses indicated that men's and women's roles change in both traditional and nontraditional ways during the transition to parenthood, depending on the item and the time of assessment. Measures of individual and couple adaption were also obtained: self-esteem, parenting stress, and marital satisfaction. Men's involvement in family tasks was correlated with their own or their wives adaption in pregnancy but became linked with adaptation at 6 months postpartum. However, at 18 months after birth husbands' involvement in family tasks was correlated only with wives' adaptation. For both parents, satisfaction with family task arrangements becomes correlated with self-esteem, parenting stress and marital quality after childbirth; these measures of adaptation are more closely linked with role satisfaction than with actual sharing of family work.