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Maintaining Relationship Quality During the Transition to Parenthood: The Need for Next Generation Interventions

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Abstract

The transition to parenthood is difficult for couples to navigate, making it a critical time to intervene. Unrealistic media portrayals contribute to inaccurate expectations exacerbating the difficult transition. Given the increased engagement with video content on social networking and video-sharing websites, a brief video intervention could normalize the challenges couples commonly face, combat unrealistic media portrayals and provide targeted recommendations. Brief video interventions can reach a wide audience and influence beliefs, attitudes and intentions to act. This paper provides a rationale on the need for a brief intervention for couples transitioning to parenthood and describes our own approach to doing so based on principles of attachment theory.
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Contemporary Family Therapy (2019) 41:211–218
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10591-018-9481-y
ORIGINAL PAPER
Maintaining Relationship Quality During theTransition toParenthood:
The Need forNext Generation Interventions
TimWelch1 · EricaRouleau‑Mitchell1· AdamFarero1· E.MeganLachmar1· AndreaK.Wittenborn1,2
Published online: 21 September 2018
© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018
Abstract
The transition to parenthood is difficult for couples to navigate, making it a critical time to intervene. Unrealistic media
portrayals contribute to inaccurate expectations exacerbating the difficult transition. Given the increased engagement with
video content on social networking and video-sharing websites, a brief video intervention could normalize the challenges
couples commonly face, combat unrealistic media portrayals and provide targeted recommendations. Brief video interven-
tions can reach a wide audience and influence beliefs, attitudes and intentions to act. This paper provides a rationale on the
need for a brief intervention for couples transitioning to parenthood and describes our own approach to doing so based on
principles of attachment theory.
Keywords Transition to parenthood· Next-generation interventions· Brief video intervention· Attachment theory
The transition to parenthood can be one of the most difficult
transitions for couples to navigate. The majority of couples
report a sudden decline in relationship satisfaction that can
persist for up to 4years, and is marked by greater levels
of negative interactions and conflict during this time (Doss
etal. 2009). The negative effects of the transition to parent-
hood can lead to an elevated risk for mental health problems.
In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Pre-
vention (CDC) one in nine women are at risk for developing
post-partum depression (Ko etal. 2017). When couples are
able to maintain relationship satisfaction through the transi-
tion, however, their relationship can act as a protective factor
that buffers these negative effects and can even reduce the
risk of developing post-partum depression in female partners
(Banker and LaCoursiere 2014).
The difficult transition to parenthood can be exacerbated
by the media’s unrealistic portrayals of the transition, which
tend to reflect normative thought in society (Vliegen etal.
2014). Couples transitioning to parenthood often have unre-
alistic expectations about the impact parenthood will have
on their personal happiness, marital quality, division of
household labor, and amount of paternal involvement (Bie-
hle and Mickelson 2012; Delmore-Ko etal. 2000; Feldman
and Nash 1984; Flykt etal. 2014). In expectation violation
theory, when postnatal experiences are worse than the pre-
natal expectation, a negative expectation violation is said
to have occurred (Floyd and Voloudakis 1999). Thus, when
prenatal expectations of what life will be like as a parent
clash with a harsher reality, parents may experience disap-
pointment or disillusionment with their role as a parent or as
a partner (Flykt etal. 2014). Violations such as these predict
postnatal problems including decreased marital satisfaction
and increased mental health problems (Flykt etal. 2014).
User engagement with video content is on the rise. The
popular social networking website Facebook averages over
eight billion daily video views (Constine 2016). YouTube,
a popular video-sharing website, estimates about one bil-
lion users of roughly childbearing age watch about one
billion hours of video content per day (Youtube 2018).
Given the inherent difficulties of the transition to parent-
hood, the impact of negative expectation violations, and
the high engagement with video content among people of
Electronic supplementary material The online version of this
article (https ://doi.org/10.1007/s1059 1-018-9481-y) contains
supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
* Tim Welch
welchti1@msu.edu
1 Department ofHuman Development andFamily Studies,
Michigan State University, 552 W. Circle Dr., EastLansing,
MI48824, USA
2 Psychiatry andBehavioral Medicine, Michigan State
University, GrandRapids, MI, USA
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
... Doane et al. 2016;Mahabee-Gittens et al. 2010). A brief multimedia intervention could prove effective for new and expecting parents who have significant time demands, yet are often in need of support to maintain connection with their partner (Welch et al. 2018). Given the inherent difficulties of the transition to parenthood, and the high engagement with video content among people of childbearing age, a brief, easily disseminated intervention that focuses on maintaining connection during the transition to parenthood could be a feasible and efficient solution to improving couple outcomes (Welch et al. 2018). ...
... A brief multimedia intervention could prove effective for new and expecting parents who have significant time demands, yet are often in need of support to maintain connection with their partner (Welch et al. 2018). Given the inherent difficulties of the transition to parenthood, and the high engagement with video content among people of childbearing age, a brief, easily disseminated intervention that focuses on maintaining connection during the transition to parenthood could be a feasible and efficient solution to improving couple outcomes (Welch et al. 2018). ...
... Many couples experience a decline in relationship satisfaction during this developmental phase (Doss et al. 2014). A brief video intervention targeting this population has the opportunity to normalize the difficulty couples can experience during the transition to parenthood and provide helpful suggestions for how to best navigate it (Welch et al. 2018). It has the capacity to reach a broader audience, including at-risk couples that may be less likely to seek services. ...
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