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Supporting couples across the transition to parenthood

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Supporting couples across the transition to parenthood

Abstract

Amid all the adjustments new parents need to make, the couple relationship can often become vulnerable as partners struggle to maintain their pre-parenthood focus on each other. Practitioners can help new parents through the transition via programs that focus on the couple relationship alongside the challenges of parenting. Drawing on a selection of recent research, this paper is aimed at informing practitioners working with individuals and couples about the major factors impacting on relationship satisfaction for new parents and the optimal characteristics and content of programs to support both the couple and their parenting through the transition to parenthood. no. 20 2011 briefing AustrAliAn fAmily rElAtiOnsHiPs ClEAringHOusE Marital satisfaction 1 often declines over time, but may be particularly notable following the birth of a child (Halford & Petch, 2010; also see Doss, Rhoades, Stanley, & Markman, 2009; Twenge, Campbell, & Foster, 2003, for brief discussions) when the decline tends to be steeper and more rapid (Lawrence, Rothman, Cobb, Rothman, & Bradbury, 2008), probably in response to the stresses of looking after a newborn (Halford & Petch, 2010). While becoming a parent can be a time of great joy, there are also many challenges, which, if particularly difficult, may have implications for child development (Doss et al., 2009). Therefore understanding the factors associated with the decline in satisfaction, and the interactions among them, can arm practitioners with information to help clients prepare for, and perhaps counteract, the ways in which becoming a parent impacts negatively on couple relationships (Twenge et al., 2003). This may be especially important if the birth occurs in the first 5 years of marriage, when relationships appear to be vulnerable to separation and divorce (Doss et al., 2009). Research indicates associations between a number of factors that impact on marital satisfaction during the transition to parenthood, although the findings can be contradictory. Practitioners may need to 1 Much of the research in this field is conducted in the USA and participants are usually married rather than cohabiting couples, hence the use of the term "marital" rather than "relationship" satisfaction. In this paper we will use the terms "marital" and "relationship" satisfaction interchangeably unless referring to research in which the two groups are specifically compared or analysed separately. The Australian Institute of Family Studies is committed to the creation and dissemination of research-based information on family functioning and wellbeing. Views expressed in its publications are those of individual authors and may not reflect those of the Australian Institute of Family Studies or the Australian Government. The Australian Family Relationships Clearinghouse (AFRC) is an information and advisory unit funded by the Australian Government Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. The Clearinghouse aims to enhance family relationships across the lifespan by offering a resource and a point of contact for providers of family relationship and support services, policy makers and members of the research and broader communities. The Clearinghouse collects, synthesises and disseminates information on family relationships and facilitates networking and information exchange.
Supporting couples across the transition
to parenthood
Robyn Parker and Cathryn Hunter
Amid all the adjustments new parents need to make, the couple relationship can often
become vulnerable as partners struggle to maintain their pre-parenthood focus on each other.
Practitioners can help new parents through the transition via programs that focus on the
couple relationship alongside the challenges of parenting. Drawing on a selection of recent
research, this paper is aimed at informing practitioners working with individuals and couples
about the major factors impacting on relationship satisfaction for new parents and the optimal
characteristics and content of programs to support both the couple and their parenting through
the transition to parenthood.
NO. 20 2011
briefing
AustrAliAn fAmily rElAtiOnsHiPs ClEAringHOusE
Marital satisfaction1 often declines over time, but may be particularly notable following the birth of a
child (Halford & Petch, 2010; also see Doss, Rhoades, Stanley, & Markman, 2009; Twenge, Campbell,
& Foster, 2003, for brief discussions) when the decline tends to be steeper and more rapid (Lawrence,
Rothman, Cobb, Rothman, & Bradbury, 2008), probably in response to the stresses of looking after
a newborn (Halford & Petch, 2010). While becoming a parent can be a time of great joy, there are
also many challenges, which, if particularly difficult, may have implications for child development
(Doss et al., 2009). Therefore understanding the factors associated with the decline in satisfaction, and
the interactions among them, can arm practitioners with information to help clients prepare for, and
perhaps counteract, the ways in which becoming a parent impacts negatively on couple relationships
(Twenge et al., 2003). This may be especially important if the birth occurs in the first 5 years of
marriage, when relationships appear to be vulnerable to separation and divorce (Doss et al., 2009).
Research indicates associations between a number of factors that impact on marital satisfaction during
the transition to parenthood, although the findings can be contradictory. Practitioners may need to
1 Much of the research in this field is conducted in the USA and participants are usually married rather than cohabiting couples, hence the use of the
term “marital” rather than “relationship” satisfaction. In this paper we will use the terms “marital” and “relationship” satisfaction interchangeably
unless referring to research in which the two groups are specifically compared or analysed separately.
2 | Australian Institute of Family Studies
Editor: Elly Robinson, Manager, Australian Family Relationships
Clearinghouse
Edited by: Lauren Di Salvia
© Commonwealth of Australia 2011
This work is copyright. Apart from any use as permitted under the
Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced by any process without
prior written permission from the Australian Institute of Family Studies,
Level 20, 485 La Trobe Street, Melbourne VIC 300.
The Australian Institute of Family Studies is committed to the creation
and dissemination of research-based information on family functioning
and wellbeing. Views expressed in its publications are those of individual
authors and may not reflect those of the Australian Institute of Family
Studies or the Australian Government.
Australian Institute of Family Studies
Level 20, 485 La Trobe Street, Melbourne VIC 3000 Australia
Phone: (03) 9214 7888 Fax: (03) 9214 7839
Email: <afrc@aifs.gov.au>
Internet: <www.aifs.gov.au>
ISSN 1834-2434 (Online)
ISBN 978-1-921414-74-9
The Australian Family Relationships Clearinghouse (AFRC) is
an information and advisory unit funded by the Australian
Government Department of Families, Housing, Community
Services and Indigenous Affairs. The Clearinghouse aims to
enhance family relationships across the lifespan by offering
a resource and a point of contact for providers of family
relationship and support services, policy makers and members
of the research and broader communities. The Clearinghouse
collects, synthesises and disseminates information on family
relationships and facilitates networking and information
exchange.
Contents
Key factors affecting relationship satisfaction across
the transition to parenthood 2
Gender and gender roles 2
Division of labour and perceptions of fairness 2
Socioeconomic status 3
Parental expectations 3
Sleep disturbances 3
Relationship factors 4
Child factors 4
Transition to parenthood—what’s important? 5
Transition to parenthood—what works? 6
Final comments 8
References 8
canvass both broad and specific issues with their
clients in order to provide the most effective
information and/or intervention.
Key factors affecting relationship
satisfaction across the transition to
parenthood
Below are key findings from a selection of
research studies examining factors that affect
couple relationships when partners become
parents, and that are particularly relevant to
practice.
Gender and gender roles
While women tend to experience the decline
in relationship satisfaction during the transition
to parenting more significantly than men (for
a meta-analysis see Twenge et al., 2003), the
findings for men have been inconsistent (see
for example, Van Egeren, 2004). Interestingly,
compared to the early studies of satisfaction
for new parents, recent research tends to find
declines in satisfaction to be steeper (Twenge
et al., 2003). A suggested explanation for this
comes from research into changes in gender
roles following the birth of a child. A longitudinal
study of first-time and “experienced” (already
had one child) parents and their gender-role
attitudes (Katz-Wise, Priess, & Hyde, 2010)
found that both groups of parents became more
traditional in their gender-roles from pregnancy
to 12 months post-partum. With increases in
workforce participation by women over recent
decades (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2008),
first-time mothers may experience this gender-
role discrepancy more intensely now than
mothers from previous generations.
Division of labour and perceptions of
fairness
Women may be particularly vulnerable to the
impacts of new parenthood, as their workload—
through primary child care and housework
The authors
Robyn Parker is a Senior Research Officer and Cathryn
Hunter is a Research Officer with the Australian Family
Relationships Clearinghouse
Acknowledgements
The authors are grateful to Lyn Fletcher for her very helpful and
insightful comments and suggestions on the paper.
AFRC Briefing 20 2011 | 3
duties—tends to increase significantly in the early post-partum period. For example, one study
found that women’s total workloads (paid employment, child care and housework) after the
birth of their child increased significantly more (by 64%) than men’s (37%) (Gjerdingen & Center,
2004). Perceptions of fairness in how domestic tasks are distributed may also affect women’s
relationship satisfaction (Gjerdingen & Center, 2004). Furthermore, if expectations that child
care will be shared between partners are not met, co-parenting experiences (how couples feel
they work together as parents) tend to be poor, more so for women as they generally do more
child care than they expected (Van Egeren, 2004). These feelings may abate as the child grows
and child care and household labour becomes more evenly distributed. However, the impact
of domestic workload—alone and in concert with other factors affecting life as a new parent,
such as sleep disturbances—should be explored by practitioners seeking to help parents adjust
to parenthood.
Socioeconomic status
Findings regarding socioeconomic status (SES) and declines in marital satisfaction across the
transition to parenthood have yielded some interesting findings. Some studies suggest that
younger, less educated individuals tend to struggle more with the transition (e.g., Howard &
Brooks-Gunn, 2009) while other research has found the transition more disruptive for those
from high SES backgrounds, particularly women who may have left high-status and well-paid
jobs to become mothers (Twenge et al., 2003). These findings suggest that in different types
of families, for different reasons, the impact of the transition to parenthood may be greater for
families where there is a higher degree of disruption to their pre-parenthood lifestyle.
Parental expectations
Pre-birth expectations of parenthood have been found to be related to psychological wellbeing
of mothers. If their parenting experiences were contrary to their expectations before giving
birth, their relationship quality tended to decline; however, post-birth experiences that were
more positive than expected were related to improved relationship quality (Harwood, McLean,
& Durkin, 2007). These particular findings underline the importance of preparing couples for,
and supporting them through, the myriad of changes parenthood brings.
Sleep disturbances
Although many parents report disturbed sleep in the post-partum period and it is known to
have implications for a range of individual functions, including parental competence (Gay, Lee,
& Lee, 2004), there is limited research into how sleep affects new parents’ adaptation to their
role. Further, Medina, Lederhos, and Lillis (2009) pointed out that although much is known
about how sleep disturbance affects mood and cognition, almost no studies have examined
the role of those disturbances in changes in relationship satisfaction. Their review led them
to suggest a process by which sleep disturbances (e.g., interruption or deprivation) negatively
affect the cognitive and emotional resources needed to cope with the multiple demands of new
parenthood and exacerbate the stresses new parents face. If conflict then increases and positive
feelings begin to decline, relationship satisfaction may also suffer. From a practice point of view
therefore, it would seem useful to also explore with clients how a lack of or interrupted sleep
might affect the couple relationship.
4 | Australian Institute of Family Studies
Relationship factors
In studies of married couples, marital satisfaction and health (i.e., marital friendship, thinking
about how the partner feels, fondness and affection, prenatal conflict, and withdrawal) prior to
parenthood (Shapiro, Gottman, & Carrere, 2000) and the length of the marriage prior to the birth
of the first child (Doss et al., 2009) tend to buffer against the stressors related to the transition.
This suggests that exploration of the couple relationship prior to the pregnancy and birth would
be a useful part of any program or service supporting couples in the transition to parenthood.
Being in a marital or cohabiting relationship has been linked to postnatal supportiveness for low
SES couples—compared to non-cohabiting dating couples or couples who were not romantically
involved—however satisfaction has been found to decline more sharply for cohabiting than
married couples (particularly mothers) (Howard & Brooks-Gunn, 2009). Declines in satisfaction
have also been found to occur more suddenly for first-time fathers who cohabit before marriage,
and first-time parents who cohabit before marriage tend to express higher levels of observed
negative communication with their partner after the birth of their first child (Doss et al., 2009).
The impacts of prenatal relationship quality on the transition to parenthood may be particularly
salient for men. In one study, fathers’ prenatal marital withdrawal (i.e., avoiding eye contact,
increasing/maintaining physical distance, giving up on the discussion, and being unresponsive)
was related to less positive whole family interactions at 24 months post-partum (Paley et
al., 2005). Furthermore, another study found fathers’ feelings about the relationship before
parenthood to be an indicator of their postnatal feelings, and also of their wives’ perceptions of
their co-parenting (Van Egeren, 2004).
Child factors
Some child factors have been found to impact parental wellbeing in the transition to parenthood.
Child temperament, particularly having a fussy or difficult child, has been linked to difficulty
Some methodological considerations
Methodological differences contribute to the seemingly contradictory findings from studies of the transition
to parenthood (Doss et al., 2009). Research into the transition to parenthood has been criticised for several
common methodological issues, including:
the use of small samples of generally homogeneous, middle-class, married, educated, heterosexual
Caucasian couples in the USA;
the use of cross-sectional designs, which have limited capacity to isolate the effect of having children on
the transition to parenthood; and
the collection of information during pregnancy when relationship satisfaction may be artificially inflated
by the heightened togetherness of being pregnant (although these findings are inconsistent, refer
Lawrence et al., 2008).
These design issues limit the generalisability of findings to broader populations. However, findings of
significant relationships between the transition to parenthood and a wide range of factors highlight the
need for practitioners to help couples examine several areas of their relationship that might be affected by
the arrival of their child.
AFRC Briefing 20 2011 | 5
or stress by parents, particularly fathers (Baxter & Smart, 2010; Perren, von Wyl, Burgin,
Simoni, & von Klitzing, 2005; Spielman & Taubman, 2009; Van Egeren, 2004). Having a low
birth weight child was found to impact fathers’ reports of declines in the mother’s relationship
supportiveness in one study (Howard & Brooks-Gunn, 2009), perhaps a function of the added
burden experienced by mothers of caring for a more fragile infant. Lastly, child gender has been
found to differentially impact relationship quality in some studies (e.g., Doss et al., 2009: greater
drops in satisfaction reported for mothers giving birth to daughters rather than sons) but not
others (Howard & Brooks-Gunn, 2009: child gender was unrelated to either parent’s perception
of partner’s emotional supportiveness).
Since a large number of factors have been shown to impact on how well couples make the
transition to parenthood, it can be difficult to decide where to start when helping new or soon-
to-be parents prepare for and navigate their new and changed circumstances. In some cases,
specific issues may be identified that affect, or have the potential to affect, the safety of the child
or a parent, in which case prompt assistance from relevant professionals should be sought. The
following section briefly outlines a framework that provides a systematic way for practitioners to
identify possible information and intervention needs of new or soon-to-be parents.
Transition to parenthood—what’s important?
Drawing on research into risk factors for couples adjusting to parenthood, Halford and Petch
(2010) suggested that, to promote couple/parental coping, satisfaction, involvement, and parent–
infant interaction, interventions should address the following content areas:
Factors specific to parenthood:
Skills training in basic infant care—managing infant sleeping and feeding, crying and
irritability.
Expectations of parenting—roles, support, affection, equity, conflict, relationship
satisfaction.
Parenting competence/efficacy—understanding infant behaviour, interpreting and
responding to infant cues.
Factors related to context:
Seeking and obtaining support from family and friends—identifying actual and possible
support needs and possible solutions.
Couple process factors:
Effective communication and conflict management skills.
Mutual practical, emotional support—articulate support needed and currently received,
identify and apply new or additional methods of support.
Affection and intimacy: caring behaviours and sexual satisfaction—articulate caring
received and given, identify ways to increase caring behaviours; acknowledge common
sexual difficulties for new parents and help find ways to address these if necessary.
It is generally accepted that interactions between the couple and between parents and their
children are interrelated. Being in a high quality relationship is associated with sensitive and
responsive parenting (Erel & Burna, 1995; Krishnakumar & Buehler, 2000) whereas poorer
quality relationships can lead to “an escalating cycle of negativity and upset between the parents,
and between the parents and the infant” (Halford & Petch, 2010, p. 167). Australian data showed
6 | Australian Institute of Family Studies
that low parenting warmth was consistently linked to lower relationship satisfaction and lower
perceived support for both primary (typically mothers) and secondary (typically fathers) carers
(Zubrick, Smith, Nicholson, Sanson, & Jackiewicz, 2008).
Given the robustness of this association it could be expected that programs addressing factors
that affect both the couple relationship and the parents’ capability to provide optimal parenting
would have measurable impacts on the adjustment to parenthood. The following section
summarises some of the evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of programs that aim to
support couples through the transition to parenthood.
Transition to parenthood—what works?
Generally, programs for new or soon-to-be parents aim to promote relationship skills and
support, and realistic expectations of parenthood. In a meta-analysis2 of 142 studies, programs
that addressed both couple relationship and parenting issues were shown to have positive
impacts on couple, parenting and child development variables (Pinquart & Teubert, 2010). The
interventions started either during pregnancy or following the birth of the child, and addressed
a wide range of individual, couple, and child factors. Around two-thirds of the interventions
were attended by at-risk families,3 however the majority of participants were mothers.4 Improved
outcomes were noted for:
parenting quality;
actual or potential for child abuse/neglect;
parental stress and psychological health;
couple adjustment; and
aspects of child development.
In combining the findings of the studies examined, Pinquart and Teubert (2010) identified the
following optimal program characteristics:
Interventions of 3 to 6 months duration appeared to be effective for promoting parenting
quality and for child social development.
Selective, targeted programs run by professionals were associated with positive/increased
child mental health.
Child cognitive development was positively impacted if parents attended an intervention with
at least some postnatal sessions.
Individual/couple programs were effective with respect to complex issues such as parent–
child attachment.
Group programs impacted health-promoting behaviours (for example, immunisation).
2 A meta-analysis is a way of reviewing groups of studies. A statistic that quantifies the amount of change in particular variables is
calculated and used to indicate whether the effect of a type of program (e.g., parenting competence, adolescent resilience) is small,
medium or large. The larger the combined effect, the more effective the program.
3 “At risk” in the analyses reported here is indicated by the labelling of an intervention as universal or selective prevention of negative
parenting behaviours. No further information regarding specific risk factors is provided.
4 This limits the generalisability of the findings. Directing programs at couples (rather than individuals) makes sense since this enables partners
to create shared understandings and expectations of the issues facing them as a couple. They will also be exposed to the same information
and [presumably] achieve similar levels of competence with respect to the challenges of becoming/being a parent (Halford & Petch, 2010).
AFRC Briefing 20 2011 | 7
Overall the research suggests that programs that focus on both parenting skills and the couple
relationship will provide the most optimal outcomes.
Findings across the range of factors examined in the meta-analysis were somewhat variable
(but not contradictory). Some moderate to large effect sizes5 were found, but overall the effect
sizes—while statistically significant—tended to be small to very small. However, as Pinquart and
Teubert (2010) noted, small improvements such as those found for parenting quality, parental
stress, and child cognitive and social development and mental health, can reflect meaningful
improvements for participants. Even very small effects (such as those found for potential for
child abuse/neglect) can have important implications for the lives of parents and their children.
Findings from these kinds of combined analyses of programs, however, highlight the inherent
tension for service providers trying to allocate resources across interventions with different
proposed outcomes. For example, an organisation may wish to provide an intensive service for
a small number of families considered to be at risk of child maltreatment (selective or targeted
interventions). Alternatively, resources may be allocated to providing more general, information-
based services to all families (universal interventions). These decisions are often influenced by
funding agreements and associated outcome measurements.
One approach to resolving (or at least addressing) these tensions is suggested by the stepped
approach outlined by Halford and Petch (2010) (and also implemented in the field of parenting
education by the Triple P Parenting Program6). Halford and Petch (2010) noted that at present
our ability to anticipate who might benefit most from support in becoming parents is limited.
They suggested a graduated approach in which varying levels of information, support and
skills training is offered, allowing providers to reach potentially large numbers of people and
participants to choose the level of intervention that best suits their needs. The minimum level
5 Refer Footnote 1.
6 More information about the Triple P program can be found at the Triple P website <www.triplep.net>
Transition to parenting programs in Australia
There is a limited number of programs/interventions that deal with both couple relationship and parenting
practices across the transition to parenthood that are available in Australia for new or soon-to-be parents.
Three of these have been evaluated and are outlined below.
Couple CARE for Parents program—the program includes 6 units over 7 months, both pre- and postnatal,
and includes baby care and parenting information as well as skills training in key relationship areas
related to relationship quality. <www.psychology.sunysb.edu/ftrlab-/projects/ccp.php>
Bringing Baby Home—a 2-day workshop that focuses on what to expect over the transition to
parenthood, optimal child development and positive co-parenting, and strengthening couple friendship,
intimacy and conflict regulation. <www.bbhonline.org>
What Were We Thinking! Psycho-Educational Program for Parents (PEPP)—an early intervention program
offered to parents soon after the birth of their first child to extend their knowledge and skills in managing
infant needs and negotiating the new unpaid workload fairly, and improve the quality of the couple
relationship by addressing adjustment to changes in the intimate relationship between partners after the
birth of a baby. <www.whatwerewethinking.org.au>
8 | Australian Institute of Family Studies
of intervention, perhaps comprising assessment of parenting strengths and challenges and
providing information about adapting to being a parent, could be available to all couples.
Progressively more intensive or involved interventions (for example, 2-hour seminars or 2-day
group programs) focusing on specific issues and skills could be offered to couples who want
further support, or who are identified as being at high risk of difficulties in becoming parents.
Approaches such as this may help service providers think through the most efficient and effective
way of distributing resources while achieving positive outcomes across a range of clients.
Final comments
There are many factors impacting on parenting, child development and the couple relationship
and any single program is unlikely to be able to address all of them in any depth. This, along
with the often limited reach of interventions into disadvantaged groups, the relatively short
time frame for follow up, and the variability of findings across the studies included in the meta-
analysis suggest the need for further investigation of programs aimed at promoting both the
wellbeing of couples as they adapt to being a parent and the subsequent development of their
child. However, the meta-analysis identifying program characteristics, and the content suggested
by research on risk factors for new parents, provide a guide for service providers working with
or considering designing and delivering programs for new or soon-to-be parents.
References
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Baxter, J., & Smart, D. (2010). Fathering in Australia among couple families with young children (Occasional Paper No.
37). Canberra: Australian Government Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.
Cowan, C. P., & Cowan, P. A. (2000). When partners become parents: The big life change for couples. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Doss, B. D., Rhoades, G. K., Stanley, S. M., & Markman, H. J. (2009). The effect of the transition to parenthood on
relationship quality: An 8-year prospective study. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 96(3), 601–619.
Erel, O., & Burman, B. (1995). Interrelatedness of marital relations and parent-child relations: A meta-analytic review.
Psychological Bulletin, 118(1), 108–132.
Gay, C. L., Lee, K. A., & Lee, S-Y. (2004). Sleep patterns and fatigue in new mothers and fathers. Biological Research for
Nursing, 5(4), 311–318.
Gjerdingen, D. K., & Center, B. A. (2004). First-time parents’ postpartum changes in employment, child care, and housework
responsibilities. Social Science Research, 34, 103–116.
Halford, K., & Petch, J. (2010). Couple psychoeducation for new parents: Observed and potential effects on parenting.
Clinical Child Family Psychology Review, 13, 164–180.
Harwood, K., McLean, N., & Durkin, K. (2007). First-time mothers’ expectations of parenthood: What happens when
optimistic expectations are not matched by later experiences? Developmental Psychology, 43(1), 1–12.
Howard, K. S., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (2009). Relationship supportiveness during the transition to parenting among married
and unmarried parents. Parenting, Science and Practice, 9, 123–142.
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AFRC Briefing 20 2011 | 9
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... The transition to parenthood has been studied from different cultures and from different perspectives. Our extensive search via the Health Systems Evidence (HSE) found that particular emphasis on social contexts and how the impact of parenthood on well-being depends on marital status, gender, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status have been studied1234 Marital satisfaction across the transition to parenthood [5,6] its effect on the first-time parents' postpartum changes in employment, child care, and housework responsibilities [6,7] Gender-role attitudes and behavior across the transition to parenthood [8] leep disruption and decline in marital satisfaction across the transition to parenthood [9]. . Depressive symptoms and psychosocial stress across the transition to parenthood [10] Parental self-efficacy and stress-related growth in the transition parenthood [11].The previous work has failed to consider the cultural effect on the experience of the transition to parenthood. ...
... The transition to parenthood has been studied from different cultures and from different perspectives. Our extensive search via the Health Systems Evidence (HSE) found that particular emphasis on social contexts and how the impact of parenthood on well-being depends on marital status, gender, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status have been studied1234 Marital satisfaction across the transition to parenthood [5,6] its effect on the first-time parents' postpartum changes in employment, child care, and housework responsibilities [6,7] Gender-role attitudes and behavior across the transition to parenthood [8] leep disruption and decline in marital satisfaction across the transition to parenthood [9]. . Depressive symptoms and psychosocial stress across the transition to parenthood [10] Parental self-efficacy and stress-related growth in the transition parenthood [11].The previous work has failed to consider the cultural effect on the experience of the transition to parenthood. ...
Article
Purpose: This research study aimed to identify and describe the importance of cultural values and beliefs in shaping the experience of the transition to parenthood for new parents, in relation to marriage, birth and family life. Method: Qualitative research interviews were conducted on a convenience sample of young men (n=15), young women (n=15) and 10 older people selected from three regions of Jordan. All interviews were audio taped and analyzed using a thematic analysis approach. Results: The results revealed that culture has a major influence in structuring the experiences of the transition to parenthood in relation to marriage, birth and family life. Conclusion: Because of cultural limitations on young people, Jordanian young people feel completely “unprepared” for the transition to parenthood. This unpreparedness impacts on the whole experience of marriage, birth and family life. Preparing young adults for the transition to parenthood needs collaboration between all Institutions such as the Ministry of Education; the Ministry of Health and the community services.
... The transition to parenthood has been studied from different cultures and from different perspectives. Our extensive search via the Health Systems Evidence (HSE) found that particular emphasis on social contexts and how the impact of parenthood on well-being depends on marital status, gender, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status have been studied1234 Marital satisfaction across the transition to parenthood [5,6] its effect on the first-time parents' postpartum changes in employment, child care, and housework responsibilities [6,7] Gender-role attitudes and behavior across the transition to parenthood [8] leep disruption and decline in marital satisfaction across the transition to parenthood [9]. . Depressive symptoms and psychosocial stress across the transition to parenthood [10] Parental self-efficacy and stress-related growth in the transition parenthood [11].The previous work has failed to consider the cultural effect on the experience of the transition to parenthood. ...
... The transition to parenthood has been studied from different cultures and from different perspectives. Our extensive search via the Health Systems Evidence (HSE) found that particular emphasis on social contexts and how the impact of parenthood on well-being depends on marital status, gender, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status have been studied1234 Marital satisfaction across the transition to parenthood [5,6] its effect on the first-time parents' postpartum changes in employment, child care, and housework responsibilities [6,7] Gender-role attitudes and behavior across the transition to parenthood [8] leep disruption and decline in marital satisfaction across the transition to parenthood [9]. . Depressive symptoms and psychosocial stress across the transition to parenthood [10] Parental self-efficacy and stress-related growth in the transition parenthood [11].The previous work has failed to consider the cultural effect on the experience of the transition to parenthood. ...
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Abstract Purpose: This research study aimed to identify and describe the importance of cultural values and beliefs in shaping the experience of the transition to parenthood for new parents, in relation to marriage, birth and family life. Method: Qualitative research interviews were conducted on a convenience sample of young men (n=15), young women (n=15) and 10 older people selected from three regions of Jordan. All interviews were audio taped and analyzed using a thematic analysis approach. Results: The results revealed that culture has a major influence in structuring the experiences of the transition to parenthood in relation to marriage, birth and family life. Conclusion: Because of cultural limitations on young people, Jordanian young people feel completely “unprepared” for the transition to parenthood. This unpreparedness impacts on the whole experience of marriage, birth and family life. Preparing young adults for the transition to parenthood needs collaboration between all Institutions such as the Ministry of Education; the Ministry of Health and the community services
... The overarching goal of the present study was to examine pathways linking attachment anxiety and avoidance to the overall adequacy and quality of partner support received by each partner during the 6 months following childbirth-an optimal period for intervention given the elevated stress and adjustment associated with early parenthood (Parker & Hunter, 2011;Sharma & Mazmanian, 2014). We hypothesized that impaired affective communication reported by each partner during pregnancy would emerge as a mediator through which attachment insecurity undermines partner support received by each partner during the postpartum period. ...
Article
Objective The purpose of the present study was to investigate perceived difficulties in affective communication as a key mechanism linking attachment anxiety and avoidance during pregnancy to the quality of postpartum support received by partners. Background During the postpartum period, partner support has the potential to promote family well-being by mitigating stress related to changes experienced during this transition. Attachment security is one of the most robust predictors of intimate relationship processes and impacts partner communication and support dynamics. Method Heterosexual couples (N = 159) completed surveys and semi-structured interviews to obtain measures of attachment security, perceived difficulties in affective communication, and quality of partner support quality during pregnancy. At 6 months postpartum, partners completed interviews to assess the quality of partner support received since childbirth. Results Greater attachment anxiety and avoidance predicted greater impairments in affective communication for men and women. Paternal difficulties with affective communication predicted the quality of support received by both mothers and fathers during the 6 months following childbirth controlling for prenatal support. The effects of attachment anxiety and avoidance on postpartum support were mediated by paternal perceptions of poor affective communication. Conclusion Findings demonstrate the utility of attachment theory for understanding adaptive and maladaptive prenatal couple dynamics and examining both parents in research on heterosexual couples navigating the pregnancy-postpartum transition. Results identify deficits in prenatal affective communication as a key factor explaining the link between attachment insecurity and postpartum partner support, warranting closer attention in interventions.
... Las demandas más comunes son satisfacer las necesidades del hijo; por ejemplo, alimentación, cuidado, protección, afecto, ayudarlo a regular sus conductas y emociones, etc. En cuanto a los recursos, estos van a depender de muchas variables personales y situacionales como el autoconcepto, los rasgos de personalidad, el sentido de competencia, la situación financiera, el acceso a información y servicios, nivel de educación, soporte social, etc. No obstante, a pesar de que los padres de familia puedan contar con distintos recursos, esto no necesariamente implica que estarán libres de experimentar estrés, pues lo que más importa es la experiencia subjetiva que tienen acerca de la paternidad y crianza de los hijos (Cowan y Cowan, 2000;Mossop, 2013;Parker y Hunter, 2011;Valdés, 2007). ...
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The purpose of this study is to determine whether the Parental Stress Index-Short Form (PSI/SF) fits the unidimensional Rasch model. An intentional non-probabilistic sample composed of 370 parents from metropolitan Lima with children aged 0 to 3 was used. Results indicate that the 23 items in this proposed version show a good fit to the Rasch model. There are good reliability scores derived from the application of this instrument.
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There has been growing recognition of the importance of fathers to families in recent years. Societal trends, such as rising levels of employment among mothers of young children and recognition of the importance of the father-child relationship, have given more prominence to the contribution that fathers make to family life. Governments are increasingly interested in creating conditions that can foster fathers’ involvement in families; for example, through promoting more flexible working arrangements or by ensuring that children maintain contact with fathers following family breakdown. This growing interest in the role of fathers has been mirrored in the scientific community. However, there has been a limited amount of research on fathers in Australia, with the result that there remains much to be learnt about the ways that Australian fathers contribute to families and how they feel about themselves as fathers.This report aims to increase understanding of the many ways in which fathers in couple families with young children contribute to family life, through the study of their time investment with children, their supportiveness as partners, their financial contribution, their parenting behaviours and styles, and their perceptions of their own adequacy as fathers. The impact of fathers on children’s well-being is also examined.The report makes use of data from Growing Up in Australia: the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC), a large-scale, nationally representative study of children and families that is following the experiences and wellbeing of two cohorts of children and their families, from infancy to the threshold of adulthood. The children in the LSAC were, at the first wave of the study in 2004, aged 0 to 1 years (the B cohort) and 4 to 5 years (the K cohort). The data from Wave 1 are used along with those at Wave 2, when these same children were aged 2 to 3 years and 6 to 7 years respectively, and at Wave 3, when they were aged 4 to 5 years and 8 to 9 years. The report therefore focuses on fathering in families with quite young children. The availability of data at these different ages of the children allows analyses of how fathering may change as children grow through these early years.LSAC is unusual in that it also obtains the perspectives of mothers and fathers, and collects information on a very broad range of influences on child and family well-being. It is thus particularly appropriate for the investigation of fathering in the Australian context.This report first reviews the existing literature on fathering – considering how fathering can be conceptualised and how fathering varies across families. Fathering is clearly a multidimensional concept, and we have adhered to that notion throughout this report by examining the different ways in which fathers can contribute to families.The report confirms that Australian fathers play a vital role in their families. This role is sometimes different, but complementary, to the role of mothers. The analyses showed that fathers made a major contribution to the family income, they were supportive of their partners, they participated in unpaid work within the home (albeit at lower levels than mothers), they spent time with children (although again, at lower levels than mothers), and they were generally parenting well and felt they were doing a good job in their fathering role. Many of these qualities were linked. We also sought to explore the characteristics or circumstances that facilitated or hindered fathers’ involvement. Fathers’ working arrangements, their mental health and the quality of relationships between partners appeared to be particularly salient influences. Finally, clear-cut effects of fathering on children’s socio-emotional and learning outcomes were found, even after taking into account the contribution of mothers. We conclude that fathering ‘matters’ for children and families and there are tangible benefits to be gained from fostering fathers’ involvement in their families.
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The transition to parenthood is a substantial challenge for many couples, and the extent to which the partners can support each other and their relationship is strongly related to the sensitivity and responsiveness of their parenting of their infant. This paper critically analyses the links between the couple relationship and parenting of infants and reviews the research evaluating couple psychoeducation (CP) to assist couples' parenting of their infant. It is concluded that CP has considerable potential to enhance couples' adaptation to parenthood and enhance the sensitivity and responsiveness of parenting of new infants.
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On the basis of social structural theory and identity theory, the current study examined changes in gender-role attitudes and behavior across the first-time transition to parenthood and following the birth of a second child for experienced mothers and fathers. Data were analyzed from the ongoing longitudinal Wisconsin Study of Families and Work. Gender-role attitudes, work and family identity salience, and division of household labor were measured for 205 first-time and 198 experienced mothers and fathers across 4 time points from 5 months pregnant to 12 months postpartum. Multilevel latent growth curve analysis was used to analyze the data. In general, parents became more traditional in their gender-role attitudes and behavior following the birth of a child, women changed more than men, and first-time parents changed more than experienced parents. Findings suggest that changes in gender-role attitudes and behavior following the birth of a child may be attributed to both the process of transitioning to parenthood for the first time and that of negotiating the demands of having a new baby in the family. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2009 APA, all rights reserved).
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The purpose of this study is to examine the association between interparental conflict and parenting using meta-analytic review techniques. One-hundred and thirty-eight effect sizes from 39 studies are analyzed. The overall average weighted effect size is −.62, indicating a moderate association and support for the spillover hypothesis. The parenting behaviors most impacted by interparental conflict are harsh discipline and parental acceptance. Several moderating effects for subject and method characteristics are significant.
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This meta-analysis finds that parents report lower marital satisfaction compared with nonparents (d=−.19, r=−.10). There is also a significant negative correlation between marital satisfaction and number of children (d=−.13, r=−.06). The difference in marital satisfaction is most pronounced among mothers of infants (38% of mothers of infants have high marital satisfaction, compared with 62% of childless women). For men, the effect remains similar across ages of children. The effect of parenthood on marital satisfaction is more negative among high socioeconomic groups, younger birth cohorts, and in more recent years. The data suggest that marital satisfaction decreases after the birth of a child due to role conflicts and restriction of freedom.
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This study investigated the development of the coparenting relationship upon its initiation, after the transition to parenthood. The coparenting experiences and interactions of 101 married couples were assessed to evaluate the validity of the coparenting construct and to identify individual differences in trajectories of coparenting experiences. Five major conclusions emerged. First, the coparenting and the marriage are related but differentiated dimensions of the couple relationship, even in early infancy. Second, on average, coparenting experiences are positive and stable over the first six months of parenthood, but fathers are significantly more satisfied with coparenting than are mothers. Third, the pre-birth marital relationship, and especially fathers' positive marital interactions, are important indicators of whether both parents will feel supported and validated in coparenting. Fourth, change in post-birth marital experiences are inversely related to change in coparenting experiences, suggesting that one aspect of the couple relationship may be maintained at the expense of the other aspect. Fifth, other factors that change over time, particularly violated expectations for the division of childcare, predict the ways in which coparenting experiences develop. In addition, fathers reported better coparenting experiences when infants were perceived as having easier temperaments. In general, the development of coparenting appears to take different paths for mothers and fathers.
Article
Objective. To investigate postpartum changes in first-time parents' work responsibilities, and to identify predictors of parents' satisfaction with housework sharing.Methods. Two hundred and sixty one fathers and mothers (128 couples) expecting their first child completed surveys about their work responsibilities during pregnancy and at 6 months postpartum.Results. Time devoted to work responsibilities increased by 64% for mothers and 37% for fathers after childbirth. Mothers (vs. fathers) reported significantly greater increases in childcare (48.9 vs. 25.7 h/week, p<.001) and total work (35.6 vs. 23.5 h/week, p<.001), and greater decreases in employment (10.7 vs. 0.2 h/week, p<.001). Couples perceived less housework sharing and less satisfaction with work sharing after childbirth. Mothers' postpartum satisfaction with housework sharing was associated with partner satisfaction, childcare time, and less involvement in housework.Conclusions. The birth of a first child produced substantial increases in parents' workloads, and mothers assumed the bulk of responsibility for domestic work.
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The present meta-analysis integrates the effects of randomized controlled trials that focus on promoting effective parenting in the transition to parenthood. We included 142 papers on interventions which started during pregnancy or in the first 6 months after birth. Computations were based on random-effects models. On average, interventions had small to very small significant effects on parenting (d = .35 SD units), parental stress (d = .20), child abuse (d = .13), health-promoting behavior of parents (d=.15), cognitive development (d = .24), social development (d = .30), motor development of the child (d = .15), child mental health (d = .40), parental mental health (d = .31), and couple adjustment (d = .13). Most of the effects were maintained at follow-up. Effects varied by onset of the intervention, delivery mode, qualification of the intervener, length of intervention, intervention goals, and gender distribution. In addition, we found that older studies reported greater effect sizes. We conclude that parenting-focused interventions are effective and should be made accessible to more expectant and new parents.
Article
OBJECTIVE: The present study examined trajectories of mothers' and fathers' ratings of the other parent's supportiveness over the first five years after the birth of a child in order to capture the ways in which relationship quality changes for married and unmarried couples during the transition to parenthood. DESIGN: The sample consisted of 2172 mothers and fathers, at least one of whom was experiencing a first birth. Parents were assessed at birth and again when their child was 1, 3, and 5 years old. At each assessment they reported on the emotional supportiveness they received from the other parent as well as their relationship status. RESULTS: Latent growth curve models revealed that for both mothers and fathers, supportiveness tended to be high at birth and decreased steadily thereafter. Furthermore, perceived supportiveness at one year was a better predictor than the same measure at birth in terms of predicting changes in supportiveness over time and whether or not the couple would break up by the child's fifth birthday. Married couples had the most positive trajectories, with higher levels of supportiveness than dating or non-romantic parents and less decline over time than cohabiting couples. Relationship supportiveness also varied by key demographic variables including parental race. CONCLUSION: Reports of partner supportiveness at birth may not be a good indicator of later support or stability. However, by one year postpartum, supportiveness ratings may be more representative of the overall relationship. Family structure is also important in understanding the nature of the transition to parenting among first time parents.
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The purpose of the study reported in this article was to examine how the unique circumstances of the birth of a premature baby affect the perception of parental self-efficacy and stress-related growth—which is the experience of positive change in one's life following stressful circumstances—among first-time parents and to examine the contribution of the parents' personal resources of self-esteem and attachment style, and their infant's temperament and medical condition, to their self-efficacy and stress-related growth. Forty-nine sets of parents of preterm babies and 50 sets of parents of full-term babies completed questionnaires about one month after the birth of their child. Parents of premature infants reported a higher level of stress-related growth than those of full-term infants, but no difference was found between them on parental self-efficacy. In addition, gender differences in the dependent variables, as well as significant contributions of attachment style and self-esteem, were found. Professional guidance during pregnancy, aimed at expanding parents' knowledge and understanding of the changes they can expect to undergo, may serve to enhance the positive experience of growth in the transition to parenthood.