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Vision of Own Parenting in Singles and People Involved in a Romantic Relationship

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Although it is generally assumed that experiences related to being in a romantic relationship are important for forming attitudes toward being a parent, yet there has been no reliable empirical evidence for that. Two empirical studies have been conducted to examine relations between status and length of romantic relationship and vision of own parenting (VOP). The first of them was conducted on 178 teenagers and young adults aged from 18 to 32 with the use of a survey related to predictions about being a parent in the future. In the second study, conducted on 413 young people aged from 17 to 29, the Vision of Own Parenting Questionnaire (VOPQ) was used. The structure and the content of the vision of own parenting of singles and people involved in a romantic relationship were compared. Relations between time spent in this relationship and extension of the VOP were also subject to examination. The results of both studies revealed that people involved in a romantic relationship value parenthood higher than singles, have a more extended vision of their own parenting, and have a greater desire to participate in different forms of preparation for being a parent. They also predicted more positive changes in the relationship with a life partner after childbirth, and had fewer doubts about being a parent in the future. These findings support the common thought and some theoretical concepts that being in a romantic relationship is related to forming attitudes toward being a parent in the future.
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ROCZNIKI PSYCHOLOGICZNE /ANNALS OF PSYCHOLOGY
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18290/rpsych20232-2
KAMIL JANOWICZ
Faculty of Psychology and Cognitive Science
Adam Mickiewicz University11
VISION OF OWN PARENTING
IN SINGLES AND PEOPLE
INVOLVED IN A ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIP
Although it is generally assumed that experiences related to being in a romantic relationship are
important for forming attitudes toward being a parent, yet there has been no reliable empirical
evidence for that. Two empirical studies have been conducted to examine relations between status
and length of romantic relationship and vision of own parenting (VOP). The first of them was
conducted on 178 teenagers and young adults aged from 18 to 32 with the use of a survey related
to predictions about being a parent in the future. In the second study, conducted on 413 young
people aged from 17 to 29, the Vision of Own Parenting Questionnaire (VOPQ) was used. The
structure and the content of the vision of own parenting of singles and people involved in a roman-
tic relationship were compared. Relations between time spent in this relationship and extension of
the VOP were also subject to examination. The results of both studies revealed that people in-
volved in a romantic relationship value parenthood higher than singles, have a more extended
vision of their own parenting, and have a greater desire to participate in different forms of prepara-
tion for being a parent. They also predicted more positive changes in the relationship with a life
partner after childbirth, and had fewer doubts about being a parent in the future. These findings
support the common thought and some theoretical concepts that being in a romantic relationship is
related to forming attitudes toward being a parent in the future.
Keywords: vision of own parenting; singles; couples; romantic relationship.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to KAMIL JANOWICZ, Faculty of
Psychology and Cognitive Science, Adam Mickiewicz University, ul. A. Szamarzewskiego 89/AB,
60-568 Poznań, Poland; email: kamil.janowicz@amu.edu.pl; ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-
6193-5331
The research and publication of this article have been financially supported by the Faculty
of Psychology and Cognitive Science, Adam Mickiewicz University.
2020, XXIII, 2, 133–152
KAMIL JANOWICZ
134
INTRODUCTION
Parenthood is one of the most common life experiences among men and
women. Regardless of changes in contemporary societies, it is still highly valued
by young people (Dziwańska, 2007; Twenge et al., 2012). A substantial differ-
ence in the way of fulfilling the parental role may be observed among people,
even in the same culture or social group. Similarly, the ways to become a parent
vary as well. Taken together, it encourages researchers to investigate factors re-
lated to a more successful adaptation to parenthood and being a better and more
satisfied parent.
An engagement in any social role is usually preceded by the process of form-
ing images about oneself in this role. Earlier experiences, patterns of social roles,
intergenerational transmission, knowledge gained during the process of socializa-
tion, personal values and many other factors may influence the content and the
structure of these images. One of the factors widely recognized in the literature
(e.g., Crissey, 2005; Joyner & Udryn, 2000; Schulman & Seiffge-Krenke, 2001)
as important in the process of forming images about being a parent in the future
are experiences gained in romantic relationships. However, this belief has not
been properly supported by data yet. Although this subject is strongly related to
daily life, far too little attention has been paid to verify the role of experiences
from being in a romantic relationship in the process of adaptation to parenthood
and forming attitudes toward it.
This paper will present the results of two studies, one qualitative and the
other quantitative, conducted to verify the research hypotheses about the relation
between the status of a romantic relationship and the content and the structure of
the vision of own parenting (VOP). Predictions about being a parent in the future
were compared between singles and people in a romantic relationship. Also, the
relation between the time spent in a romantic relationship and the extension
of the vision of own parenting was examined.
ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIPS IN YOUNG PEOPLE
Engagement in romantic relationships is a common experience in adoles-
cence and early adulthood (Izdebski, 2012). Being in a romantic relationship
may be related to sexual activity among partners. Data from several studies in-
vestigating sexual activity in Polish young people carried out in recent years
(Beisert, 2012; Izdebski, 2012) revealed that a major part of them had had
VISION OF OWN PARENTING
135
a sexual initiation. Having sex with a partner may lead to a pregnancy, which
must be considered by the partners. Thinking about that may stimulate reflection
on parenthood planning. However, most young people prefer to postpone having
a baby. Interestingly, for young men, an unwanted pregnancy has been the
strongest concern (stronger even than contracting a sexually transmitted disease)
related to having unprotected sex (Smith et al., 2011). They perceived having
a baby as something permanently and widely limiting their life.
Although romantic relationships may have various forms and may play a di-
verse social and psychological function for coupled people, experiences gained
in them are assumed to be important for development of teenagers and young
adults (Bakiera, 2009). A better state of health (Goodwin et al., 1990; Murphy
et al., 1997), higher life satisfaction, and higher level of well-being (Braithwaite
et al., 2010; Janicka 2012) are reported as positive outcomes of being engaged in
a romantic relationship. There is also copious literature, mainly theoretical pa-
pers about the role of being in a romantic relationship in young people’s devel-
opment. A few of the most important thoughts of prominent developmental psy-
chologists on that subject will be presented in this part of the paper.
First, Haley (1973, as cited in Ostoja-Zawadzka, 1999) mentioned dating and
engagement as the first phase of the cycle of family life, preceding relationship
formalization and having children. This concept indirectly emphasizes the impact
of interactions between partners in the early period of their relationship on its
future shape and their prospective family life. Second, Havighurst (1981, pp. 45–
90), pointed out that developmental tasks related to fulfilling family roles (select-
ing a mate, learning to live with a marriage partner, starting a family, and rearing
children) follow on those related to developing intimate relationship (achieving
new and more mature relations with age-mates of both sexes, and preparing for
marriage and family life). Taking these thoughts into consideration, it may be
possible to state that it is impossible to undertake tasks related to parenthood
without having a close and stable intimate relationship with a partner. Similarly,
Erikson (1997, 2004) mentioned that these aspects of life follow one after anoth-
er, pointing out that gaining intimacy in a close relationship precedes becoming
a generative person. Finally, Levinson’s theory ought to be mentioned here. As
one of the crucial developmental tasks of the Novice Phase (period between
17 and 33 years old) he mentioned forming and living out the Dream, which is
“a vague sense of self-in-adult-world. It has quality of a vision, an imagined pos-
sibility that generates excitement and vitality” (Levinson, 1988, p. 91). The pro-
cess of forming the Dream may be facilitated (or sabotaged!) by a close person,
e.g., a spouse. He wrote (1988, p. 108) that people at the Novice Phase “seek
KAMIL JANOWICZ
136
a person who will appreciate his/ her emerging aspirations and want to share
his/her planned life with them.” From this perspective, being engaged in a ro-
mantic relationship is not only a developmental task (Havighurst, 1981) but also
a need for young people. In view of all concepts listed so far, one may suppose
that being involved in a romantic relationship may influence future family life
and forming predictions about it.
VISION OF OWN PARENTING
In the present research, the vision of own parenthood (VOP) is understood as
“the person’s idea of themselves as a parent in the future and his/her path toward
becoming a parent” (Janowicz, 2017, p. 74). It refers to a predicted state of reali-
ty, not to a longed-for state. It is important to emphasize that the vision of own
parenting is not a type of life goal. It is rather a Levinsonian Dream in relation to
parenting (Janowicz & Bakiera, 2018). It can be described with respect to its
content (to what it is built from) and its structure (how it is built). On the basis of
a literature review, five aspects of the VOP were isolated: planning, preparation
for parenting, taking part in a child’s life, relation between parenting and other
areas of life, and parenthood valuing. Developing the vision of own parenting
may be understood as part of the preparation for entering into and afterwards
fulfilling a parental role.
Current knowledge about young people’s vision of their future parenting is
largely based upon qualitative studies conducted by psychologists and sociolo-
gists (e.g., Gajtkowska, 2016; Jacques & Radtke, 2012; Maher et al., 2004; Maj-
dzińska & Śmigielski, 2010; Majorczyk, 2014; Marsiglio et al., 2000; Smith
et al., 2011; Thompson et al., 2013). Another group of studies focused on family
planning and reproduction. They were performed by Scandinavian researchers
(Lampic et al., 2005; Skoog Svanberg et al., 2006; Virtala et al., 2001) on hun-
dreds of people with the use of online surveys. Together, these studies suggest
that although becoming a parent in the future is important for young people, they
still have many doubts concerning it. On the other hand, the results of the afore-
mentioned studies have demonstrated that there is a growing number of people
who do not want to become parents at all. This phenomenon is referred to as
“voluntary childlessness” and it has been widely discussed in the literature for
several decades (e.g., Bloom & Pebley, 1982; Tanturri & Mencarini, 2008).
Being a parent in the future is still more important to women than to men. Wom-
en also see more important circumstances for making a decision to have children.
VISION OF OWN PARENTING
137
Many people reported experiencing a feeling of unreadiness to become a parent
and concerns associated with a potential inability to combine the role of a parent
with other duties (e.g., education, work). Graduating, starting a full-time job,
being in a stable, intimate relationship and having a sense of one’s own emotion-
al maturity were all perceived as necessary conditions for making a decision
about having a child (Janowicz, 2018; Janowicz & Bakiera, 2018; Maher et al.,
2004; Marsiglio et al., 2000; Thompson et al., 2013). Most of the interviewees
declared their attachment to the traditional patterns of family roles, but there
were also individuals who were more eager to implement “new” parenthood
models. This clash between the traditional and modern family roles patterns was
vividly discussed by the interviewees. Previous studies in this area showed that
the part of the vision of own parenting related to preparation and sense of readi-
ness for being a parent is more extended than predictions about fulfilling the
parental role itself. There are several studies that provide some empirical evi-
dence on the differentiating role of gender, age, or education level in the vision
of own parenting content, but none of them has explored status of an intimate
relationship.
RESEARCH QUESTIONS AND HYPOTHESES
Many authors claim that predictions about being a parent in the future may
be related to the experience gained in an intimate relationship, but no empirical
data proving this idea have been presented yet. The aforementioned idea is also
present in common beliefs. According to some theoretical background presented
in the previous part of this paper, this thesis seems to be plausible. Thus, the
main research goal of studies presented in this paper is investigating relations
between the status of an intimate relationship and the content and structure of the
vision of own parenting in young childless people.
In particular, the following hypotheses have been posed:
H1: People involved in a romantic relationship have more extended and
optimistic vision of own parenting than singles.
H2: People with a cumulatively longer time spent in romantic relationships
have more extended and optimistic vision of own parenting than people with
a shorter time spent in romantic relationships.
These hypotheses have been verified in two empirical studies conducted with
various forms of measuring the vision of own parenting. Study 1 was carried out
in a qualitative approach, while Study 2 was performed out in a quantitative
approach.
KAMIL JANOWICZ
138
STUDY 1
Method
Participants and Procedure
The research was carried out in a paper version (60%) and online version
(40%).1 The groups differed in terms of gender (χ2(1, 180) = 12.401, p < .001;
there were more women in the group of participants filling on-line version), age
(t(178) = –20.11, p < .001; mean age was higher in the group of participants
filling on-line version) and intimate relationship status (χ2(1, 180) = 26.61,
p < .001; participants filling on-line version were more frequently engaged in
a romantic relationship).2 In total, 180 participants aged between 17 and 29
(M = 21.25, SD = 2.98) were recruited in Study 1; 58.0% (n = 104) of them were
female. With regard to romantic relationship, 38.9% (n = 79) were single, 40.9%
(n = 83) were partnered, but not cohabiting, 5.9% (n = 12) were involved, and
3.3% (n = 6) were married. With respect to declared socioeconomic status (SES),
3.9% (n = 7) declared a bad or a very bad SES, 48.9% (n = 88) declared average
SES, and 47.2% (n = 85) declared SES “better than an average.” All participants
were native citizens of Poland living in a major city (over 400,000 citizens).
Research Method
In Study 1, a survey related to the vision of own parenting was used. It was
developed on the basis of questions posed in previous studies on the VOP, analy-
sis of theoretical and empirical papers about parenthood, and the conceptualiza-
tion of the VOP, as mentioned above in the paper. The survey used in the study
1 It should be mentioned that the results were slightly different in both groups in the following
aspects of the VOP: considering the best age for having the first child, readiness for feeding and
changing diapers, and willingness to take part in workshops, consultations and regular group meet-
ings intended to prepare for parenting. Participants from the on-line group achieved higher scores
(indicating greater readiness/higher willingness / more frequent presence of reflection on parenthood
planning) in relation to the aforementioned aspects of the vision of own parenting. Since the partici-
pants from both groups differed in terms of gender, age, and status of an intimate relationship, fur-
ther analyses (e.g., ANCOVA) revealed that the aforementioned differences in the VOP extension
were rather related to those factors than to condition of the study itself. This issue will be discussed
in the part describing the study limitations.
2 This difference is more likely to be related to the age rather than the conditions of the study—
young adults are more frequently engaged in romantic relationships than teenagers (Beisert, 2012;
Izdebski, 2012).
VISION OF OWN PARENTING
139
contained: (a) 6 closed-ended questions (e.g., Do you think it is possible to pre-
pare for being a father/mother?—Yes/No); (b) 13 open-ended questions with
a few blank lines following each question (e.g., How can you prepare for being
a father/mother?); (c) 8 graphic scales with extreme points indicated (e.g., How
important is it for you to be a father in the future?—from Completely unim-
portant to This is the most important thing in my life); d) 5 numeric scales rang-
ing from 1 (I am sure I will not take part) to 5 (I am sure I will take part) refer-
ring to the willingness to participate in five kinds of pre-parenting instruction
(the scales were preceded by the question: Do you want to take part in the fol-
lowing forms of pre-parenting instruction?).
The data from the open-ended questions were analyzed in both qualitative
and quantitative ways. First, after reading all the answers, categories related to
each aspect of the vision of own parenting were developed (e.g., financial stabil-
ity, reading books about parenting and emotional maturity as a way of preparing
for parenthood). Second, all the answers were coded in relation to these catego-
ries. Third, some rarely presented categories were merged into broader categories
(e.g., reading books about parenting and visiting websites about parenting were
merged into the category labelled as “Literature and websites about parenting.”
This final list of categories was discussed with the Authors’ Supervisor. After
that, all answers were read one more time and coded by means of these catego-
ries. It should be mentioned that it was possible to code one answer to more than
one category. More detailed information about the manner of analyzing qualita-
tive data was presented in my previous paper reporting findings on the content of
the vision of own parenting in teenagers (Janowicz, 2018) and young adults
(Janowicz & Bakiera, 2018).
Results
The results of Study 1 will be presented in the following manner. First, re-
sults supporting and challenging Hypothesis 1 will be presented. Second, results
supporting and challenging Hypothesis 2 will be presented. The following anal-
yses were conducted in the study: one-way analyses of variance (ANOVA), and
χ2 test for independent samples.
The first hypothesis, assuming that people involved in a romantic relation-
ship have more extended and optimistic VOP than singles, got some support in
the data, but only in relation to the aspects of the VOP like planning, preparation
and valuing. People involved in a romantic relationship more often mentioned
having a family or children in their predictions about their future. Further analy-
KAMIL JANOWICZ
140
sis showed that this difference was significant only in the group of men
(M = 95% vs M = 70%, χ2(1, 76) = 8.10, p < .01). Singles less often mentioned
a precise predicted number of children at the age of 35 (M = 36% vs M = 51%,
χ2(1, 178) = 4.05, p < .05), or thought about how many children they would like
to have (M = 79% vs M = 93%, χ2(1, 178) = 7.59, p < .01). Considering, in turn,
the valuing of being a parent in the future, it was higher (on a 0–100 scale) in the
coupled people than in singles (M = 73 [SD = 23.63] vs M = 62 [SD = 26.31],
F(1, 178) = 8.02, p < .01, d = .440, on a 0–100 scale). They also were more
eager to take part in an academic lecture (M = 3.25 [SD = 1.28] vs M = 2.85
[SD = 1.30], F(1, 177) = 4.28, p < .05, d = .310, on a 1–5 scale), and regular
workshop meetings (M = 2.80 [SD = 1.30] vs M = 2.28 [SD = 1.35],
F(1, 177) = 6.80, p < .05; d = .392, on a 1–5 scale) preparing for parenting.
There were no significant differences between people involved in a romantic
relationship and singles in other aspects of the vision of own parenting. The sin-
gle most surprising observation to emerge from the data comparison was that
people engaged in a romantic relationship planned to have children later than
singles (M = 27.71 [SD = 2.60] vs M = 26.8 [SD = 2.51], F(1, 178) = 4.01,
p < .05, d = .356). This result will be discussed later in the study.
In regard to Hypothesis 2, assuming that cumulative time spent in a romantic
relationship is correlated with higher extension and optimism of the vision of
own parenting, results are generally similar. People who had spent more time in
romantic relationships more often mentioned family life and specified a desired
number of children in their answers related to predictions about their own life
at the age of 35. They also more often had reflections on the planned number
of children and desired age to have the first child (see Table 1).
Table 1. Time Spent in Romantic Relationships and Family Planning
Aspects of vision of own parenting
Time spent in romantic
relationships (in months) χ2 (2, 178)
0–12 13–24 > 24
Family life/ having a child mentioned in
narration about own life at 35 76% 86% 92% 7.29*
Desired number of children in narration
about own life at 35 32% 45% 56% 8.61*
Reflection on desired total number of children 78% 81% 97% 14.48**
Reflection on desired age to have the first child 57% 77% 83% 13.16**
* p < .05. ** p < .01.
VISION OF OWN PARENTING
141
Based on Tables 2 and 3 it can be observed that people with longer time
spent in romantic relationships were also more eager to engage in child care and
take part in various forms of preparation for parenting. Similarly to the results
referring to Hypothesis 1, no differences related to the length of time spent in
romantic relationship in predictions about the following aspects of the vision of
own parenting were found: ways of spending time with children, shape of inti-
mate relationship after childbirth, relations between parenting and other aspects
of life, and involvement in child care.
Table 2. Time Spent in Romantic Relationships and Readiness for Child Care
Predicted involvement
in child care activities
Time spent in romantic relationships (in months)
F(2, 177) p η2
0–12 13–24 > 24
M SD M SD M SD
Feeding 61.15a 40.39 67.48 35.15 77.17a 33.91 3.55 .031 .039
Bathing 88.63a 16.52 79.07a,b 25.81 89.47b 16.71 3.78 .025 .041
Changing diapers 82.78 21.49 75.22b 28.89 88.08b 17.75 4.07 .019 .044
Note. Means in a row sharing subscripts significantly differ from each other. The scale is from 0 to 100.
Table 3. Time Spent in Romantic Relationships and Readiness to Take Part in Activities Preparing
for Parenting
Preparation for parenting
Time spent in romantic relationships
(in months)
F(2, 176) p
0–12 13–24 > 24 η2
M SD M SD M SD
Academic lecture about
parenting 2.80a 1.27 2.65b 1.38 3.49a,b 1.18 7.82 < .001 0.082
Q&A meeting with
experienced parents 2.65 1.26 2.26b 1.32 3.13b 1.26 5.90 .003 0.063
Individual consultation with
psychologist about preparation
for parenting
3.00 1.40 2.65 1.22 3.25 1.32 2.30 .104 0.025
Workshop about parenting 2.58 1.36 2.23b 1.15 3.03b 1.36 4.62 .011 0.050
Regular group meetings
(lectures and workshops)
preparing for parenting
2.49 1.39 2.03b 1.22 2.87b 1.28 4.70 .010 0.051
N
ote. Means in a row sharing subscripts significantly differ from each other. The scale is from 1 to 5.
KAMIL JANOWICZ
142
STUDY 2
Method
Participants and Procedure
Study 2 was carried out in a paper version (83%) and online version (17%).3
The groups did not differ in terms of their intimate relationship status (χ2(1, 412)
= 1.78, p = .620), but differed in terms of gender (χ2(1, 412) = 38.70, p < .001;
there were more women in the group of participants filling on-line version) and
age (t(408) = –3.44, p < .001; mean age was higher in the group of participants
filling on-line version). In total, 413 participants aged between 17 and 29
(M = 19.80, SD = 2.57) were recruited in Study 2; 54.4% (n = 224) of them were
female, while 46.0% (n = 188) were male. With regard to a romantic relation-
ship, 53.4% (n = 219) were single, 41.0% (n = 167) were partnered, but not co-
habiting, 3.9% (n = 16) were involved, and 27.0% (n = 8) were married. With
respect to the declared socioeconomic status, 2.9% (n = 12) declared a bad or
a very bad SES, 46.9% (n = 192) declared average SES, and 50.1% (n = 204)
declared SES “better than average.” All the participants were native citizens of
Poland. 31.6% (n = 130) of them lived in a village, 33.8% (n = 139) in a town,
and 34.5% (n = 142) in a city.
Research Methods
To measure the vision of own parenting, the Vision of Own Parenting Ques-
tionnaire (VOPQ; Janowicz et al., 2019) was used. The VOPQ includes 78 items
divided into 10 scales: Parenthood planning [PL], Preparation–Knowledge
[P–K], Preparation–Maturity [P–M], Preparation–Conditions [P–C], Doubts [D],
Parenthood Valuing [PV], Relationship with Intimate Partner [R], Upbringing
Methods [UM], Influence on Child [I], and Ways of Spending Time with Child
[ST]. The higher the result on each scale, the higher the level of extension of this
particular component of the vision of own parenting (more aspects were included
in the individual’s personal vision of future parenting in relation to this specific
3 Similarly to the results of Study 1, some differences between both groups were observed. Par-
ticipants who filled the on-line version achieved higher scores in the following scales of the VOPQ:
Preparation–Knowledge, Preparation–Maturity, Preparation–Conditions, Doubts, and Ways of
Spending Time. In line with the findings of Study 1, those differences were more due to gender and
age inequalities in both groups.
VISION OF OWN PARENTING
143
component of the VOP). The VOPQ scales demonstrated a high internal con-
sistency level (Cronbach’s α from .73 to .89).
Results
Similarly to the part on Study 1, the results of Study 2 will be presented
in the following manner. Firstly, results supporting and challenging Hypothesis 1
will be presented, followed by results supporting and challenging Hypothesis 2.
The analyses conducted in this study include: a t-test for independent samples,
one-way analyses of variance (ANOVA, ANCOVA), and analyses of correlation
(Pearson).
As shown in Table 4, also in Study 2, many differences in the level of exten-
sion of the vision of own parenting were observed between coupled people and
singles. Effect sizes of the aforementioned differences were moderate. Being
a parent in the future was more important for romantically involved people. They
also have more extended VOP in the following aspects such as: parenthood plan-
ning, upbringing methods, influence on children, and ways of spending time with
children; and predicted more positive changes in their romantic relationship after
childbirth.
Table 4. Status of Romantic Relationship and Extension of Vision of Own Parenting
Aspect of the vision
of own parenting
Single In relationship t (406) p Cohen’s d
M SD M SD
Parenthood Planning (PL) 18.52 5.99 21.86 6.67 –5.32 < .001 –0.528
Preparation–Knowledge
(P–K) 22.74 5.44 23.56 5.64 1.50 .134 –0.149
Preparation–Maturity
(P
M) 27.53 5.67 28.30 5.23 –1.41 .159 1.140
Preparation–Conditions
(P–C) 32.79 6.40 32.65 6.82 0.20 .842 0.020
Doubts (D) 40.39 8.71 38.86 8.78 1.76 .079 –0.412
Parenthood Valuing (PV) 29.03 8.73 32.75 9.34 –4.15 < .001 –0.041
Relationships with
Intimate Partner (R) 32.85 7.05 36.56 6.87 –5.36 < .001 –0.532
Upbringing Methods (UM) 48.92 7.78 51.33 7.17 –3.22 .001 –0.321
Influence on Child (I) 32.52 4.89 34.01 4.46 –3.19 .002 –0.317
Ways of Spending Time (ST) 36.81 7.15 39.67 5.75 –4.40 < .001 –0.437
KAMIL JANOWICZ
144
It can be seen on the basis of the data in Table 5 that people with longer
cumulative time spent in romantic relationships had more extended vision of
own parenting in the following aspects: parenthood planning, gaining knowledge
as preparation for parenting, and ways of spending time with a child. They also
had fewer doubts about being a parent in the future and predicted more positive
changes in their romantic relationship after childbirth. Being a parent in the fu-
ture in itself was also more important for people who spent more time in roman-
tic relationships.
Table 5. Time Spent in Romantic Relationships and Extension of Vision of Own Parenting
Aspect of vision
of own parenting
Time spent in romantic relationships (in months)
F(2, 407) p
0–12 13–24 > 24
η2
M SD M SD M SD
Parenthood
Planning (PL) 18.72a,b 6.12 21.22a 6.37 21.56b 6.82 9.40 < .001 0.044
Preparation–
Knowledge (P–K) 22.65 5.69 24.32 4.94 23.29 5.53 2.45 .088 0.012
Preparation–
Maturity (P–M) 27.66 5.73 29.26 5.00 27.59 5.26 2.57 .078 0.012
Preparation–
Conditions (P–C) 33.06 6.56 33.70 5.92 31.70 6.85 2.66 .072 0.013
Doubts (D) 40.52 9.13 40.25 8.14 38.26 8.50 2.83 .060 0.014
Parenthood
Valuing (PV) 28.67a,b 8.69 32.64a 8.64 33.02b 9.50 11.39 < .001 0.053
Relationship with
Intimate Partner (R) 33.48a,b 7.47 36.09a 7.05 35.46b 6.56 5.04 .007 0.024
Upbringings
Methods (UM) 49.00a 8.27 51.58a 6.87 50.80 6.54 4.08 .018 0.020
Influence
on a Child (I) 32.55a 5.02 34.15a 4.82 33.81 4.13 4.46 .012 0.021
Ways of Spending
Time (ST) 36.82a,b 7.26 39.25a 5.61 39.55b 5.83 8.22 < .001 0.039
Note. Means in a row sharing subscripts significantly differ from each other.
A one-way ANCOVA was conducted to determine a statistically significant
difference between singles, and coupled people on vision of own parenting con-
trolling for gender. There was no significant effect of interaction between the
intimate relationship status and gender in relation to any of the vision of own
parenting aspects.
VISION OF OWN PARENTING
145
The last set of analyses revealed that extension of the vision of own parent-
ing was slightly positively correlated with total time spent in intimate relation-
ships in the following aspects: parenthood planning (r = .20, p < .001), upbring-
ing methods (r = .14, p < .01), influence on a child’s life (r = .12, p < .01), and
ways of spending time (r = .20, p < .001). People who spent a longer time in
intimate relationships also predicted more positive changes in their relationship
after childbirth (r = .11, p < .05) and attached a greater value to being a parent in
the future (r = .19, p < .001). The only aspect of the VOP negatively correlated
with the total time spent in intimate relationships was the preparation conditions
(r = –.15, p < .01).
GENERAL DISCUSSION
These studies were designed to examine differences in the content and the
structure of the vision of own parenting in people involved in a romantic rela-
tionship and singles. This project was also undertaken to verify if and how
a longer time spent in romantic relationships is related to the development of the
vision of own parenting. The posed hypotheses have been partially confirmed.
The studies have shown that coupled people have a generally more extensive
vision of own parenting than singles, but only in relation to the chosen aspects of
the VOP. The second major finding of the present studies was that these differ-
ences were bigger in the aspects of the VOP related to the parenthood planning,
preparation for parenting, and parenthood valuing. Thirdly, it can be said refer-
ring to these data, that people with longer cumulative time spent in romantic
relationships have more extended VOP than people, who have less experience of
being in romantic relationships. These results in part bridge the gap in current
knowledge on the role of being involved in an intimate relationship in forming
predictions about own future in relation to parenting. The findings of both stud-
ies partially support the thoughts of many authors (e.g., Crissey, 2005; Joyner
& Udryn, 2000; Schulman & Seiffge-Krenke, 2001) who claim that experience
gained in romantic relationships is related to preparation for parenting and atti-
tudes toward it. These results will be discussed in relation to other studies on the
vision of own parenting and some theoretical concepts.
Sternberg (1986, as cited in Wojciszke, 2015) claims that intimacy develops
at the subsequent stages of the romantic relationship (especially in its first few
years). Developing intimacy is related to growing trust and mutual dependence
(also in terms of developing common life plans). Subjects related to future fami-
ly life may be present in discussions of the partners. Growing intimacy in this
KAMIL JANOWICZ
146
relationship may support forming the Dream and living it out, also in relation to
parenthood (Levinson, 1988). The role of characteristic of relation between part-
ners for shaping their plans and predictions about future may be also concluded
from Havighurst’s thoughts (1981, pp. 85–89), but he describes the order of real-
ising developmental goals in early adulthood. Selecting a mate and learning to
live with a marriage partner precede starting a family. It is therefore likely that
effects of that “learning” may influence partners’ plans and predictions related to
being parents in the future. What is more, sharing personal thoughts and emo-
tions related to that topic with an intimate partner may lead partners being better
prepared (as a couple) for pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting (Kuryś, 2010).
Interestingly, Levinson (1988) highlighted that partners’ agreement in worldview
and attitudes toward traditional and modern patterns of family life may influence
the process of forming the Dream. It is possible to hypothesise that partners with
more similar worldview, life values and attitudes toward family roles will have
more similar vision of own parenting, which should lead to fewer problems dur-
ing transition to parenthood (Fleming et al., 1988). Longitudinal studies involv-
ing both partners are needed to verify it.
The observed fact that being a parent in the future is more important for peo-
ple involved in a romantic relationship than for singles may indicate that devel-
oping this relationship, and the effort put in it, may be considered by the partners
as preparation for starting a family. It was described in this light by Havighurst in
his theory (1981) and mentioned by Skowroński in his paper (2011) about sexual
development in relation to developmental tasks in early adulthood. The afore-
mentioned results revealing that coupled people prefer to have children later than
singles may be better understood in this context. A possible explanation for this
might be that parenthood is more important for coupled people, so they want to
be better prepared for it. This explanation with the findings of Liberska (2004),
who found that in the group of young people taking part in her research more
important expectations were located in a more distant temporal perspective. This
result may be also explained by the fact that having a baby may be considered as
a threat for a satisfying romantic relationship, which may lead to postponing
starting a family. This explanation is consistent with findings of studies on
voluntary childlessness (Cieślińska, 2014; Garncarek, 2017; Wacławik, 2012).
However, other results of the presented research4 lead to the conclusion that this
4 No significant correlations (r = .13; p = .08) in Study 1 and weak negative correlation
(r = –.17, p < .01) in Study 2 were observed between parenthood valuing and number of conditions
perceived as necessary to start a family; in the entire sample (in Study 1) higher parenthood valuing
was positively correlated with the will to have a baby earlier (r = .295; p < .01).
VISION OF OWN PARENTING
147
specific result is rather related to the structure of the research sample. Being in
a romantic relationship was more often reported by young adults, whose tem-
poral perspective of their life plans tends to be more extended in time (Liberska,
2004). These results reveal a wealth of factors influencing procreation plans in
young people.
The results of Study 1 show that being in a romantic relationship is to
a greater extent related to a more extended vision of own parenting in men than
in women. The results of Study 2 are not in line with it. Wojciszke (2002) and
Przybył (2001) pointed out that the process of boys’ socialization, contrary to
socialization of girls, is less focused on preparation for fulfilling family roles.
This suggests that experience gained in romantic relationships may, somehow,
compensate earlier shortages in the process of socialization and lead to develop-
ment of the vision of own parenting. Further studies should be done to verify if
being (or not) in a romantic relationship may play a different role in the process
of development of the VOP among men and women.
Surprisingly, no difference in the extension of many aspects of the vision of
own parenting (especially in Study 1) between coupled people and singles was
observed. There are several possible explanations for this outcome. First, it is
possible that status of an intimate relationship should be taken into consideration.
It may be predicted that romantically involved or married people will have great-
er expectations about their future family life than dating people. However, in this
study it was impossible to verify this in a proper way because of a limited num-
ber of romantically involved and married participants. Further research, which
would include a higher number of both, needs to be conducted. Second, the ob-
served results could be attributed to “natural” dynamic of the process of the VOP
development. It is possible to hypothesise that some general reflection on that
matter (family planning, ways of spending time with a child) develops firstly and
then more specific thoughts (e.g., especially related to preparation for parenting)
develop. To verify this hypothesis longitudinal studies should be conducted. Fi-
nally, findings from studies on the process of transition to parenthood (Kuryś,
2010; Way, 2012) suggest that experience of young parents related to first
months after childbirth were largely inconsistent with earlier predictions about
this period of their life. It may be possible that this subject is too abstract and
distant for teenagers and young adults. An implication of acceptance of this the-
sis will be the necessity of looking for another factors related to development of
the vision of own parentingthan being (or not) engaged in a romantic relation-
ship—e.g., future orientation and life values (Janowicz et. al., 2019).
KAMIL JANOWICZ
148
LIMITATIONS
The findings in this report are subject to a few more limitations than those
previously mentioned in this paper. First, with respect to sample characteristic,
findings can be only partially generalized onto a different group (e.g., people
living in towns and villages). Second, the inability to assess qualitative data by
a bigger group of judges indicates caution in the extension of conclusions based
on these data. Thirdly, as it was mentioned, the results in both studies were
slightly different in the group filling the paper version and the group filling the
on-line version. However, those differences were rather related to the fact that
both groups differed in terms of gender, age, and status of an intimate relation-
ship. Nevertheless, the manner of data gathering should be taken into considera-
tion during planning further studies on that topic, as a possible factor influencing
the results. Finally, results in both studies were somehow inconsistent, which
may be related to the method of measurement (qualitative or quantitative) and
the manner of gathering data (paper vs on-line versions) (Janowicz, in press).
Further studies should be done to assess that.
CONCLUSIONS
The findings of the presented research show that the status of an intimate re-
lationship and experience gained in it are related to the content and the structure
of the vision of own parenting. However, observed differences were not very big
and they were revealed only in relation to a few aspects of the vision of own
parenting. These findings and the aforementioned limitations of the research
reveal what is now needed to be done in this subject. First, conducting longitudi-
nal studies on the process of the development of the vision of own parenting in
singles and coupled people should be conducted. Second, it would be interesting
to examine this process in the succeeding stages of the romantic relationship
(dating, engagement, marriage). Another possible area of further research would
be to investigate the cohesion of the VOP between romantic partners. In relation
to this topic it might be fruitful to consider Murray Bowen’s (2004) theory and
his concept of the differentiation of the self. Especially aspects related to the
fusion with partner and dependency on the partner (Babiuch & Kriegelewicz,
2002, as cited in Kucharska & Janicka, 2018) may be important in this context
(Kriegelewicz, 2010). Further longitudinal research might indicate if and how
VISION OF OWN PARENTING
149
this cohesion develops at further stages of the relationship, and if and how it is
adaptive in the process of transition to parenthood.
Information from this study can be used to develop targeted interventions
(e.g., classes or workshops) aimed at supporting teenagers and young adults in
preparation for parenting. Findings revealing a rather low or moderate level of
VOP extension in teenagers, whether single or with a boyfriend/ girlfriend, indi-
cate the necessity of interventions aimed at developing future orientation and
prospective motivation before engaging them in classes directly intended to pre-
pare for parenthood. The results of the presented research indicate also a consid-
erable need for supporting even coupled people preparing for marriage and fami-
ly life (e.g., in church or antenatal classes) in building their own self-image as
future parents. Interventions considering knowledge gained in this research may
support young people in the process of transition to parenthood and decrease the
risk of psychological problems in this stage of their life.
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... Choć Inhelder i Piaget wspominają tutaj głównie o podjęciu pracy jako czynniku sprzyjającym urealnianiu programu życiowego u młodzieży, to współczesne badania (Janowicz 2017(Janowicz , 2020 wskazują, że również doświadczenia wyniesione z faktu znajdowania się w bliskim związku intymnym są związane z kształtowaniem się wizji własnej przyszłości, przynajmniej w odniesieniu do życia rodzinnego. Tak więc chociaż tworzone przez młodzież programy życiowe mogą mieć nierzadko charakter kompensacyjny (na co uwagę zwracał także Obuchowski, 2000) i często są efektem przejęcia stereotypowych wzorców obecnych w otoczeniu jednostki 6 , to w toku rozwoju i zdobywania kolejnych doświadczeń życiowych stają się one coraz bardziej realistyczne i prowadzą do wrastania młodego człowieka w społeczeństwo dorosłych oraz do "gruntownego przeobrażenia osobowości" (Inhelder i Piaget, 1970, s. 358). ...
... Można więc zakładać, że posiadanie aktualnych lub przeszłych związków intymnych będzie się wiązało z większą liczbą takich rozmów, a więc i większą liczbą szans na przemyślenie sobie różnych kwestii i przedyskutowanie ich z drugą osobą, co powinno sprzyjać tworzeniu się coraz bardziej rozbudowanej, szczegółowej i realistycznej wizji własnego dorosłego życia. Badania porównujące wizję własnego rodzicielstwa pomiędzy osobami żyjącymi w pojedynkę a znajdującymi się w związku intymnym (Janowicz, 2020) wykazały, że ci drudzy mają zdecydowanie bardziej rozbudowane wyobrażenia na temat swojego przyszłego życia rodzinnego i częściej podejmowali refleksję nad tym tematem. Czynnikiem wzmacniającym ten proces może być obecność w otoczeniu młodych ludzi znajomych par biorących ślub lub decydujących się na dzieckomogą być to zarówno osoby spokrewnione (rodzeństwo, kuzynostwo), jak i nie, np. ...
... O związkach z procesem kształtowania się tożsamości wspomniano już wcześniej. Oprócz tego należy podkreślić wagę rozwoju myślenia formalnego i postformalnego (Arlin, 1975;Basseches, 1990;Inhelder i Piaget, 1970;Labouvie-Vief, 1982;Liberska, 2004;Piaget, 2006;Sinnot, 1984;Wadsworth, 1998), rosnącej dojrzałości emocjonalnej (Obuchowska, 1982(Obuchowska, , 2000 a także doświadczeń wynoszonych z nowych relacji społecznych (Bakiera, 2009;Janowicz, 2017;Izdebski, 2012;Sassler i Miller, 2012), w tym relacji intymnych i seksualnych (Beisert, 2012;Izdebski, 2012;Janowicz, 2020). Wraz z rozwojem we wspomnianych powyżej obszarach można spodziewać się kształtowania przez jednostkę coraz bardziej realistycznych, ustrukturowanych, rozległych i lepiej uwzględniających kluczowe zadania rozwojowe dorosłości przewidywań na temat swojego przyszłego dorosłego życia. ...
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1) Aim of the research. The research problem was related to the role of prospective thinking for emerging adults’ development. The main subject of the study was the vision of one’s adult life, defined as the anticipation (Katra, 2008a), and, to be more precise, non-specific simulation of one’s future (Szpunar et al., 2014b). The main goals of the study were: a) explore the vision of one’s adult life in emerging adults, including describing its content, and structure and changes in this vision over time; b) investigating relations between the chosen factors and the vision of one’s adult life in emerging adults; c) verifying if these factors are predictors of changes in the vision on one’s adult life; d) analyzing relations between the characteristic of the vision of one’s adult life and identity development, and meaning in life; e) verifying if changes in this vision are related to changes in identity and meaning in life. 2) Material and method. This study was longitudinal. The second measurement was conducted 9-10 months after the first one. In the first measurement, 299 emerging adults aged 17 to 27 were recruited, and 177 of them also took part in the second part of the study. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, data were gathered via the internet. Participants were asked to write about their predictions about their future, adult life. The adequately prepared judges coded these written answers. Data were gathered through standardized questionnaires (Dimension of Identity Development Scale [DIDS], Meaning in Life Questionnaire [MLQ], Portrait Values Questionnaire [PVQ-RR], Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory [ZTPI], Future Time Perspective Questionnaire [FTPQ]) and extended sociodemographic survey. 3) Results. Results of the study indicate that emerging adults have moderately extended and detailed vision of their adult life. The most frequently represented (and mostly detailed described) aspects of life are work, intimate relationships, residence, and parenthood. The vision of one’s adult life seems to be stable over the last year of education in high school/ at university. The conducted analyses have revealed that vision of one’s adult life is at most moderately related to time perspective and life values. Additionally, various factors analyzed in this study seem not to be strong predictors of changes in the vision of one’s adult life. Another finding of this study is that forming a more extended and detailed vision of one’s adult life, stronger ease in recalling and describing it, and having a more positive emotional attitude toward it are related to having a more matured identity and higher meaning in life. Finally, it was observed that changes in the vision of one’s adult life (especially in the subjective attitude toward it) are related to changes in identity and meaning in life. 4) Conclusions. Many emerging adults can not predict their future, adult life, and developing its simulation. The vision of one’s adult life in emerging adults seems to be weakly related to life values, but in some aspects, it reflects stereotypes of gender roles. According to the findings of this study, it may be claimed that difficulties in developing the vision of one’s adult life may be the effect of poorly extended future time perspective, excessive focus on the present, and lack of engagement in identity development. Difficulties in achieving a matured identity may also 8 result from difficulties in developing the vision of one’s adult life. Gathered data indicate mutual relationships between the process of identity development and forming the vision of one’s adult life. The findings of this study shed light on the topic which was rarely explored before, which is forming the vision of one’s adult life—also concerning factors related to its development and the role of this vision for identity development and meaning in life. Results of this study may be applied to the youth’s mental health prevention, especially in the area of identity development.
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