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Abstract

Maturity to parenthood is essential for taking on parental roles but remains an understudied issue. Still, close relations between maturity and personality dimensions are commonly emphasized. Thus, conducting research on maturity in context of personality seems a valuable research direction. The present research consists of two studies, focusing on the development and validation of Maturity to Parenthood Scale (MPS), in relation to personality, emotional regulation, coping with challenges, and intimate relationship satisfaction. In both studies, childless adults aged 20–35 years took part: (1) 718 participants (Mage = 25.49; SD = 2.89; 479 women), (2) 150 participants (Mage = 23.69; SD = 3.15; 104 women). All the participants had been in an intimate relationship for at least six months at the time of the study, the majority declared their willingness to have children in the future, had higher education, and were professionally active. The results showed that MPS is a reliable, valid measure comprising the following three subscales: valence, behavioral, and cognitive–emotional maturity to parenthood. The findings also confirmed the importance of broad- and narrow-band individual differences and contextual factors for maturity. MPS may be used in psychoeducation, supporting the transition to biological or adoptive/foster parenthood, as well as in medical and psychological care.
Journal of
Clinical Medicine
Article
Measuring and Predicting Maturity to Parenthood: What Has
Personality Got to Do with It?
Ariadna Beata Łada-Ma´sko 1, * and Maria Ka´zmierczak 2


Citation: Łada-Ma´sko, A.B.;
Ka´zmierczak, M. Measuring and
Predicting Maturity to Parenthood:
What Has Personality Got to Do with
It? J. Clin. Med. 2021,10, 5802.
https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm10245802
Academic Editor: Philipp
Yorck Herzberg
Received: 19 October 2021
Accepted: 9 December 2021
Published: 11 December 2021
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4.0/).
1Division of Developmental Psychology and Psychopathology, Institute of Psychology,
Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Gda´nsk, 80-309 Gda ´nsk, Poland
2Division of Family Studies and Quality of Life, Institute of Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences,
University of Gda´nsk, 80-309 Gda ´nsk, Poland; maria.kazmierczak@ug.edu.pl
*Correspondence: ariadna.lada@ug.edu.pl; Tel.: +48-607-713-958
Abstract:
Maturity to parenthood is essential for taking on parental roles but remains an understudied
issue. Still, close relations between maturity and personality dimensions are commonly emphasized.
Thus, conducting research on maturity in context of personality seems a valuable research direction.
The present research consists of two studies, focusing on the development and validation of Maturity
to Parenthood Scale (MPS), in relation to personality, emotional regulation, coping with challenges,
and intimate relationship satisfaction. In both studies, childless adults aged 20–35 years took part:
(1) 718 participants (M
age
= 25.49; SD = 2.89; 479 women), (2) 150 participants (M
age
= 23.69;
SD = 3.15
;
104 women). All the participants had been in an intimate relationship for at least six months at the
time of the study, the majority declared their willingness to have children in the future, had higher
education, and were professionally active. The results showed that MPS is a reliable, valid measure
comprising the following three subscales: valence, behavioral, and cognitive–emotional maturity
to parenthood. The findings also confirmed the importance of broad- and narrow-band individual
differences and contextual factors for maturity. MPS may be used in psychoeducation, supporting the
transition to biological or adoptive/foster parenthood, as well as in medical and psychological care.
Keywords:
maturity; parenthood; empathy; resiliency; life values; young adults; individual
differences
;
close relationship
1. Introduction
Maturity is widely explored as a concept, but most studies focus on the general indi-
vidual maturity of a person, and maturity for marriage or to carry out parental
roles [15]
.
Maturity for marriage and parenthood is defined as an appropriate level of intellectual,
personality, emotional, and social development, which are intertwined [
1
,
6
12
]. Moreover,
gender differences in maturity referring to parenthood have also been found, confirming
higher maturity in women [1,8,1315].
Before deciding to become a parent, young adults estimate the investments related to
having a child and the limitations resulting from the new role [
16
18
]. There has been a
shift in women of the highest fertility from the 20–24-year age group to the
25–29-year
age
group. Furthermore, fertility has significantly increased in the age group of
30–34 years
,
which is mainly due to the implementation of postponed
parenthood [19,20]
. Thus, ob-
serving current sociocultural changes and trends in marriage and
fertility [19,2123]
, it
seems extremely important to explore maturity to parenthood in young adults. Studies
have revealed that psychoeducation and clarity in visualizing themselves as future parents
majorly impact adjustment to pregnancy and fulfilling future parental roles [
24
26
]. More-
over, the quality of a close relationship, good communication, and mutual support help
couples to consciously prepare for parenthood, reducing the level of stress experienced
related to the transition to parenthood as a new stage in family life [
6
,
27
29
]. The positive
effects of psychoeducation and the relationship quality on the mental health of expecting
J. Clin. Med. 2021,10, 5802. https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm10245802 https://www.mdpi.com/journal/jcm
J. Clin. Med. 2021,10, 5802 2 of 17
couples have also been confirmed [
30
32
]. Therefore, conducting research on maturity
to parenthood and thus identifying areas where young adults need further support is a
valuable research direction in the context of the role of personality for clinical application.
Surprisingly, maturity to parenthood appears in the literature primarily in the context
of couples who have already had children [
21
,
33
35
]. Thus, existing definitions mainly
focus on the fulfillment of parental roles [
36
39
]. Tate and Patterson [
40
] recently used a
term closely related to maturity to parenthood, “parenthood aspirations”, which involves
the following three aspects of parenthood: desires, expectations, and intentions. The par-
enthood desires aspect refers to how much people want to become a parent, the parenthood
expectations aspect considers the likelihood of thinking about becoming parents, and the
parenthood intentions aspect is about planning to pursue parenthood. In this paper, we
focus on the perspective of personality psychology; we refer to the definition proposed by
Bakiera, who defined parental involvement as referring to psychological readiness. First,
this concept distinguishes commitment in the area of behavior; second, the importance
of the role of a parent in a person’s values system, then to cognitive and affective aspects,
and, accordingly, concentrating thoughts, attention, and imagination on parenting roles
and emotional concentration on parenthood.
On the basis of the above conceptual framework [
36
,
40
], maturity to parenthood could
be considered to be the readiness for taking on future parenting roles in the following three
dimensions: valence, behavioral, and cognitive–emotional maturity to parenthood. The
first dimension, valence maturity to parenthood, refers to placing parenthood in a person’s
value system, the motives of their parental aspirations, and creating a vision of parenthood
based on their ethical and moral norms. The second dimension of behavioral maturity to
parenthood concerns a person’s activities in intimate relationships and in other social rela-
tionships to take on the future parental roles, their activities in the economy and work, and
actively seeking information about parenthood. The last dimension, cognitive–emotional
maturity to parenthood, refers to a general approach for taking and implementing parental
roles in everyday life, drawing attention to the different aspects of parenthood, creating
a picture of parental roles in the context of a person’s family of origin, emotions related
to parenthood, and the responsibility for the decisions affecting the implementation of
parental roles in the future.
When exploring maturity to parenthood, both intra- and interindividual factors should
be considered. The role of broad-band (Big Five) and narrow-band (e.g., empathy) personality
dimensions in a wide range of parental behaviors, including the parent–child relationship, are
commonly emphasized [
8
,
25
,
36
,
41
43
]. Research has shown that high neuroticism in mothers
correlates with negative reactions to their child, stress, and depression [
44
]. Extraversion is
associated with greater involvement in parent–child contact, displaying positive affection
and encouraging children to explore the world [
45
,
46
]. Agreeableness is a close parent–child
relationship factor based on support and cooperation [
8
,
43
]. Furthermore, higher levels of
agreeableness predict lower levels of negative affect and intrusive–overcontrolling behavior
toward children [
45
47
]. Studies have also revealed that openness to experiences is related to
positive parenting for both mothers and fathers, as being more open-minded, imaginative,
and reflective could favor good parenting [
45
,
47
]. For instance, parents who are high in the
openness dimension are more likely to provide their children with a stimulating environment,
and to be more flexible and open to modern parenting approaches [
48
]. However, parents too
high in the openness to experience dimension may also be more focused on their own interests
and aspirations instead of being engaged and responsive parents [
47
]. Conscientiousness is
also positively related to supportive parenting, and negatively to controlling parenting [
49
].
Moreover, studies have shown that more conscientious parents provide a more structured
and consistent environment for their children [
48
] and show more positive emotions and
greater responsiveness toward children [47,50].
Subsequently, as this article focuses on the maturity to take on the socially highly
regarded but stressful role of a parent [
51
53
], narrow-band personality dimensions that
are related to emotions and cognition (e.g., individual differences in empathy) and coping
J. Clin. Med. 2021,10, 5802 3 of 17
with difficulties as challenges (e.g., resiliency) exert significant effects on the adaptation
to parental roles [
8
,
10
,
25
]. Moreover, directed at others, emotional and cognitive empathy
(referred to in the literature as empathic concern and perspective taking) is strongly associ-
ated with emotional maturity [
54
], as it involves care and consideration of the points of
view of others in various social situations [
55
]. Empathy, thus, facilitates the expression
of positive emotions and dealing with negative emotions, intimacy in close relationships,
and mutual support and understanding needs or problems in relationships, thereby cop-
ing with various social challenges [
54
,
56
]. However, taking on and experiencing others’
negative emotions (referred to as personal distress in the literature) has been linked to a
lack of emotional regulation and difficulties in relationships [56].
The transition to parenthood induces changes in many areas of life and is thus com-
monly associated with a number of stressors [
57
,
58
]. The most common sources of parental
stress are a child’s difficult temperament, the relationship between parents and their child,
perceptions of parental roles, differences between imagined parenthood and reality, and
the life situation after the baby is born [
59
,
60
]. Furthermore, parental stress is connected
to lower parental sensitivity [
61
]. However, research shows that resiliency can facilitate
coping with parental responsibilities and can improve parents’ wellbeing, both emotional
and physical, and thus the wellbeing of their children, albeit indirectly [62].
Lastly, contextual variables are important in parenting and are worth exploring in the
analysis of maturity to parenthood. The perception of parenting and taking on maternal and
paternal roles are largely based on the quality of an intimate relationship with a partner [
36
].
Studies have also revealed that the quality of a close relationship is an important protective
factor in coping with parenting stress [59,63].
The Present Research
Maturity to parenthood is a key issue when starting a family to ensure good preparation
for taking on parenting roles and coping with the challenges of raising a child. However,
little is known about maturity to parenthood referring to a group of childless adults, thus
ignoring an extremely important aspect of the readiness to take on parental roles in the future.
Moreover, previous considerations regarding maturity to parenthood have not taken into
account the multidimensionality of the construct. Within the above theoretical and practical
framework, the present research focuses on the development and validation of the Maturity
to Parenthood Scale (MPS), which may help to assess maturity to parenthood and highlight
areas where young adults need further support. The above measure may also be helpful in
assessing candidates to be adoptive or foster parents. It may also be used in psychoeducation
to prevent problematic parental behaviors in future parents.
The present investigation involved two studies on the development and validation of
the MPS. In Study one, we focused on defining the construct of maturity to parenthood
with factor and reliability analysis of the MPS. Study two was designed to provide initial
evidence regarding the stability and validity of the MPS, involving correlates of the MPS.
Therefore, this research presents the results on the psychometric properties of the MPS,
its reliability and validity in relation to personality, emotional regulation, coping with
challenges, and intimate relationship satisfaction.
2. Procedure
This project was approved by the Ethics Board for Research Projects at the Institute of
Psychology, University of Gdansk, Poland (decision no. 7/2018). Participants were recruited
via announcements on social media or in various interest groups for young adults. The
inclusion criteria for the study were age (in the range of 20–35 years, i.e., young adulthood),
being in a current relationship for at least six months, and not having had children yet.
Consent to participate in the study was collected from all the participants, and they were
informed that participation in this study was voluntary and that they could withdraw at
any time. They were also informed that the results of this study would only be used for
scientific purposes. The set of questionnaires was provided via an online platform to which
J. Clin. Med. 2021,10, 5802 4 of 17
the participants received a link. No sensitive personal data were gathered. No payment was
provided for participation in the study. The procedure was the same for Studies one and two.
3. Study 1
Considering the above-mentioned theoretical framework [
36
,
40
], the aim of Study one
was to define the construct of maturity to parenthood and to investigate the structure and
reliability of the newly proposed measure, the Maturity to Parenthood Scale (MPS). The
following hypotheses were formulated:
Hypothesis 1 (H1).
The MPS has a three-dimensional structure: valence, behavioral, and
cognitive–emotional maturity to parenthood.
Hypothesis 2 (H2).
Overall maturity to parenthood and its subscales are characterized by
high reliability.
Additionally, we explored whether women were characterized by a higher overall
level of maturity to parenthood and a higher level of its three aspects: valence, behavioral,
and cognitive–emotional maturity to parenthood.
3.1. Participants
In total, 718 young childless adults aged 20–35 years (M
age
= 25.49;
SD = 2.89
; 479 women)
participated in the study. The average age of the women was 23 years old (M
age
= 23.12;
SD = 2.65
), whereas the average age of the men was 24 years old (M
age
= 24.25; SD = 2.65). All
the study participants had been in their current relationship for at least six months (
M= 3.5
;
SD = 2.38; years), and 7.8% were married; 50.2% of the young adults lived with a partner.
Importantly, from the perspective of the present study, 90.8% of the young adults declared
their willingness to have children in the future. The majority of the research group had higher
education (73.8%) and worked (67.7%). Furthermore, 21.6% of the study participants had
secondary education, 4.5% had vocational education, and only 0.1% of participants had only
primary education.
3.2. Defining the Constructs and Generating Test Items
The first stage in the development of the MPS was defining maturity to parenthood. On
the basis of analyzing the scientific literature, previous research on parenting (see
Section 1
),
and primarily on the basis of Bakiera’s [
36
] concept of involved parenting, definitions
of maturity to parenthood in the three areas, namely, valence, behavior, and cognitive–
emotional maturity to parenthood, were prepared (see descriptions in Section 4.3.1). Then,
an exploratory study was carried out. Ten competent judges (psychologists from various
age groups with practical and scientific experience in the areas of developmental, family,
or clinical psychology) were presented with definitions of the components of maturity
to parenthood and were asked to provide examples of statements describing them. On
the basis of the analysis of the obtained information and content verification of similar
statements, the original version of the 105 statements was developed. Subsequently, the
statements were presented to another set of 10 competent judges (as well as previously—
specialists with practical and scientific experience in the areas of developmental, family,
or clinical psychology), who were asked to assess the adequacy of each item to the three
definitions of the components of maturity to parenthood on a seven-point scale from
–3 (“does not fit the definition at all”) through 0 (“neither meets nor does not meet the
definition”), to +3 (“it fully meets the definition”). On the basis of the judges’ assessment
of the content validity ratio (CVR) [
64
,
65
], 45 items for the three components were selected
as the most congruent with the following definitions: Valence maturity to parenthood
with 12 items, behavioral maturity to parenthood with 14 items, and cognitive–emotional
maturity to parenthood with 19 items. The level of inter-judge agreement was medium
(W-Kendall = 0.57).
J. Clin. Med. 2021,10, 5802 5 of 17
3.3. Statistical Analysis
Statistical analysis was conducted using a Statistical Package for the Social Sciences
(SPSS) version 26 (SPSS Inc. (IBM Corp, Armonk, NY, USA), license purchased by the
University of Gdansk and MPLUS 7.2 software. Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) in
MPLUS 7.2 using the WLSMV estimator (weighted least squares with adjusted means and
variances) was conducted to verify the original factorial structure of the MPS according to
the theoretical background. CFA was carried out according to the following recommenda-
tions for analyzing fit indices [
66
,
67
]: Comparative fit index (CFI) of 0.90–0.95 = acceptable
model fit and of >0.95 = good model fit; Tucker–Lewis index (TLI) of 0.90–0.95 = acceptable
model fit and of >0.95 = good model fit; root mean square error of approximation (RMSEA)
of 0.05 = good fit, of <0.08 = acceptable fit, and of 0.10 = poor fit.
3.4. Results
3.4.1. Structure of the MPS
CFA confirmed the three-factor structure of the MPS; we also attempted one- and
four-factor structures (cognitive–emotional factor divided into the two factors of cognitive
and emotional separately), but the three-factor structure of the MPS was the best fit (see
Table 1). The results also indicated the necessity to revise scales and remove some items.
Items with an estimation power under 0.5 were excluded. The standardized item loadings
are shown in Table 2. The model fit indices of the presented model and the overall fit
of the model were satisfactory:
χ2
= 19739.24, df = 276, p< 0.001; CFI = 0.94, TLI = 0.94,
and RMSEA (90% CI) = 0.079 (0.075–0.083); thus, the final model of the MPS consisted of
24 items.
Table 1. Results of the MPS confirmatory factor analysis.
Indices RMSEA RMSEA 90% CI CFI TLI χ2/df
One-factor model (45 items) 0.101 0.099–0.103 0.82 0.82 40,382.081/990
Three-factor model (24 items) 0.079 0.075–0.083 0.94 0.94 19,739.24/276
Four-factor model (45 items) 0.080 0.077–0.082 0.89 0.89 40,382.08/990
Table 2. Factor loadings for the three-factor MPS solution.
Factor Item Item Loadings
Valence maturity
to parenthood
1 0.59 *
3 0.81 *
6 0.70 *
19 0.71 *
23 0.73 *
26 0.74 *
37 0.50 *
Behavioral maturity
to parenthood
2 0.81 *
4 0.60 *
12 0.60 *
14 0.54 *
22 0.55 *
25 0.73 *
35 0.74 *
36 0.72 *
Cognitive–emotional
maturity to parenthood
15 0.68 *
20 0.60 *
21 0.67 *
29 0.79 *
30 0.59 *
32 0.50 *
39 0.75 *
42 0.44 *
*p< 0.001.
J. Clin. Med. 2021,10, 5802 6 of 17
Furthermore, all the MPS subscales were correlated (see Table 3).
Table 3. Pearson’s correlation matrix of the MPS subscales.
MPS Subscales 1 2 3
1. Valence maturity to parenthood x
2. Behavioral maturity to parenthood 0.79 * x
3. Cognitive–emotional maturity to parenthood 0.76 * 0.66 * x
*p< 0.001.
3.4.2. The Reliability of the MPS
The reliability of the MPS was examined by separately calculating the alpha coefficient
for each subscale and for the overall score. Coefficient values above 0.70 are recommended
for instruments used in the health and social sciences or for research purposes [
68
,
69
], and
all Cronbach’s alpha coefficients were above 0.85 for the MPS (see Table 4).
Table 4. The reliability of the MPS.
Maturity to Parenthood Scale Cronbach’s α
Valence maturity to parenthood 0.86
Behavioral maturity to parenthood 0.86
Cognitive–emotional maturity to parenthood 0.86
Overall maturity to parenthood 0.94
3.4.3. Sex and Maturity to Parenthood of Young Adults
The differences between women and men on maturity to parenthood were assessed
using Student’s t-test for independent samples. The results are presented in Table 5.
Table 5. Differences in maturity to parenthood depending on the sex of young adults.
Women Men tpCohen’s d
MPS M SD M SD
Valence 37.76 8.27 35.65 8.76 3.15 0.002 0.25
Behavioral 41.52 10.90 38.34 11.21 3.64 <0.001 0.29
Cognitive–emotional 45.66 7.92 43.92 8.47 2.70 0.007 0.21
Overall 124.94 24.55 117.92 25.73 3.55 <0.001 0.28
3.5. Discussion
The results of Study one confirmed the three-dimensional structure and reliability of
the Maturity to Parenthood Scale. However, a few modifications were made to improve the
proposed measure. First, the uni- and four-dimensional models with 45 items were tested.
The unidimensional model had a poor fit to the data, whereas the four-dimensional model
had an acceptable fit. However, we assumed that the model should be supported with
the theoretical background, and we also tried the three-dimensional model, which had
the best fit to the data. This model was based on the structure proposed by Bakiera [
36
],
who distinguished the valence, behavioral, and cognitive–emotional aspects of parental
involvement (see Section 1). We also removed 21 items from the primary list with estimation
power under 0.5 to provide the most valuable measure. Lastly, the MPS consisted of
24 items. The correlations between the three dimensions of maturity to parenthood were
strong (0.66 and higher), which confirmed that they measured the same construct in
different aspects [
36
]. Furthermore, our reliability results suggest that the MPS can be a
very useful instrument for assessing maturity to parenthood in young adults. Additionally,
the results showed that women presented a higher level of maturity to parenthood than
men in all three dimensions, as well as in the overall score of the maturity to parenthood.
J. Clin. Med. 2021,10, 5802 7 of 17
However, despite the applied statistical procedures and the reliability of the obtained
results, it should also be noted that significantly more women than men took part in the
study, which could have had a possible impact on the results. Still, the obtained results
confirmed earlier findings regarding differences between women and men in the parenting
domain. Thus, the above results are consistent with those of Todosijevi´c and Ignjatovi´c [
15
],
who reported that women are expected to be more mature to parenthood and to reach
maturity earlier than men. The differences in maturity to parenthood between men and
women can be also explained through sociocultural factors. The research conducted by
Ka´zmierczak and Karasiewicz [
14
] confirmed that Polish men identify with the role of
father less than women do with the role of mother. Furthermore, the paternal role seems
to be shaped by both individual and interpersonal factors (relationships with a partner),
whereas for women, in shaping their parental role, relationships with a partner are less
important [
25
,
70
]; thus, when analyzing men’s maturity to parenthood, it is valuable to
also analyze the quality of their close relationships.
4. Study 2
The aim of Study two was to better describe the construct of maturity to parenthood;
therefore, the stability of the MPS as well as its correlates were examined.
On the basis of the above literature review, we expected that both the general person-
ality dimensions and the contextual variables (related to functioning in close relationships
and the perception of taking future parental roles) would be related to overall maturity to
parenthood and its dimensions. Moreover, we predicted that, due to the complex nature
of the maturity to parenthood construct, the MPS dimensions would also be related to a
person’s life values, narrow-band personality dimensions (e.g., cognitive and emotional
empathy), and resistance to difficult situations and coping with challenges, one of which
might be parenthood.
Thus, the following hypotheses were formulated:
Hypothesis 3 (H3). The Maturity to Parenthood Scale has satisfactory stability.
Hypothesis 4 (H4).
The overall level and three dimensions of maturity to parenthood are associated
with general personality dimensions and the quality of current close relationships, as well as declared
willingness to have children in the future.
Hypothesis 5 (H5).
Valence maturity to parenthood is especially related to an individual’s
life values.
Hypothesis 6 (H6). Behavioral maturity to parenthood is especially associated with resiliency.
Hypothesis 7 (H7).
Cognitive–emotional maturity to parenthood is especially associated with the
emotional and cognitive dimensions of empathy.
Additionally, we expected other associations between the overall score and the three
dimensions of maturity to parenthood, as well as the studied variables.
4.1. Participants
The stability and validity of the MPS were tested in Study two. In total, 150 young
childless adults aged 20–35 years (M
age
= 23.69; SD = 3.15; 104 women) participated in
the study. All the study participants had been in their current relationship for at least six
months (M= 3.66 years; SD = 2.44 years), and 9.3% were married. Furthermore, 49.3%
of the young adults lived with their partner, and 92% declared their willingness to have
children in the future. The majority of the research group had higher education (89.3%)
and worked (68%).
J. Clin. Med. 2021,10, 5802 8 of 17
4.2. The Stability of the MPS
The stability of the MPS was tested using the test–retest method. The participants
were tested twice with the MPS, three months apart. The correlations between the first and
second measurements were as follows: valence maturity to parenthood, r= 0.88; behavioral
maturity to parenthood, r= 0.85; cognitive–emotional maturity to parenthood, r= 0.87; and
overall maturity to parenthood, r= 0.90. Thus, the MPS has satisfactory stability.
4.3. The Validity of the MPS
4.3.1. Measures
Maturity to Parenthood Scale
The MPS (Łada-Ma´sko, Ka´zmierczak; Appendix A)self-report questionnaire consists of
24 items with a seven-point Likert response scale (1 = strongly disagree; 7 = strongly agree).
The overall score is the sum of the obtained points from all the statements. The above scale
consists of the following three subscales, for which the results for maturity to parenthood
in particular areas can also be calculated:
1.
Valence maturity to parenthood (VMP; seven items): High scores in this subscale
are obtained by a person who places parenting high in their coherent and integrated
value system, has a correct and critical insight into the motives of their parental
aspirations, and is also based on their ethical and moral norms, creating a vision of
their own parenthood.
2.
Behavioral maturity to parenthood (BMP; nine items): High scores on this subscale
mean that a person directs their activities in intimate relationships and in other social
relationships to take on future parental roles, directs their activities in the economic
and work spheres to take on future parental roles, and actively seeks information
about parenthood.
3.
Cognitive–emotional maturity to parenthood (CEMP; eight items): The person who
scores high in this subscale presents a realistic and flexible approach for taking on and
implementing parental roles in everyday life, draws attention to the different aspects
of parenthood, creates a picture of parental roles in the context of their family of origin,
and presents positive emotions regarding the vision of being a parent. Furthermore,
this person feels responsible for the choices and decisions they make, which may
affect the future implementation of parental roles.
Cronbach’s
α
values for the subscales in this study were as follows: valence maturity
to parenthood = 0.85, behavioral maturity to parenthood = 0.88, and cognitive–emotional
maturity to parenthood = 0.87. Furthermore, reliability for overall maturity to parenthood
was α= 0.94.
Portrait Values Questionnaire (PVQ-RR)
The Polish adaptation of the Portrait Values Questionnaire (PVQ-RR) by
Cieciuch [71,72]
was used to measure life values. The questionnaire consists of 57 items that are evaluated
on a six-item Likert-type scale, where the respondents assess if the described person is
1 = quite unlike me; 2 = unlike me; 3 = a bit similar to me; 4 = on average, similar to me;
5 = similar to me; 6 = very similar to me. The 19 narrowly defined values in the questionnaire
are self-direction thought, self-direction action, stimulation, hedonism, achievement, power
dominance, power resources, face, security personal, security societal, tradition, conformity—
rules, conformity—interpersonal, humility, universalism—nature, universalism—concern,
universalism—tolerance, benevolence—care, and benevolence—dependability. The reliability
for this questionnaire in this study was α= 0.94.
J. Clin. Med. 2021,10, 5802 9 of 17
Assessment of Resiliency Scale
The Assessment of Resiliency Scale (SPP-25) [
58
,
73
] consists of 25 items. The scale
allows for measuring the overall level of resiliency and its five constituent factors, namely,
perseverance and proactive approach, personal coping skills and tolerance of negative
emotions, openness to new experiences and sense of humor, optimistic attitude to life, and
the ability to mobilize oneself in difficult situations, tolerance of failures, and treating life
as a challenge. The items are evaluated on a five-item Likert-type scale from 0 (strongly
disagree) to 4 (strongly agree). The reliability for this scale in the present study was
α= 0.90.
Empathic Sensitiveness Scale (SWE)
The SWE [
74
] is a 28-item scale to measure dispositional empathy. The scale contains
three subscales that measure the following three components of empathy: empathic con-
cern, personal distress, and perspective taking. The items are evaluated on a five-item
Likert-type scale from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree); respondents declare if
they agree with a statement or not. The Cronbach’s
α
in the present study was 0.80 for
empathic concern, 0.78 for personal distress, and 0.77 for perspective taking.
Relationship Evaluation Questionnaire
To measure relationship satisfaction, the Polish adaptation of the Relationship Eval-
uation Questionnaireby Rostowska and Ka´zmierczak ([
75
]; RELAT, unpublished scale)
was used. This questionnaire is a seven-item measure of relationship satisfaction, with a
five-point Likert-type response scale. With this tool, we asked participants how satisfied
they were with various aspects of their relationship (i.e., physical intimacy, time together,
their ways of solving problems, and relationship equality). The Cronbach’s
α
for RELAT in
the present study was 0.76.
Ten-Item Personality Inventory (TIPI)
This inventory is the Polish adaptation by Sorkowska et al. [
76
,
77
] and is a widely
used, very brief measure of the Big Five personality dimensions (neuroticism, extraversion,
conscientiousness, openness to experience, and agreeableness). The questionnaire consists
of 10 statements (each trait is assessed by two items). The items are evaluated on a seven-
item Likert-type scale from 1 to 7, where the respondents declare if a personality trait
applies to them, where 1 = strongly disagree; 2 = moderately disagree; 3 = disagree a little;
4 = neither agree nor disagree; 5 = agree a little; 6 = moderately agree; 7 = strongly agree.
The reliability for this scale in the current study was α= 0.67.
In order to collect sociodemographic data, a self-report survey was also used.
4.3.2. Results
Table 6presents the correlations between the studied variables.
J. Clin. Med. 2021,10, 5802 10 of 17
Table 6. Correlations between studied variable and the MPS.
Variable Valence Maturity to
Parenthood
Behavioral Maturity to
Parenthood
Cognitive–Emotional Maturity
to Parenthood Maturity to Parenthood
PVQ-RR
Self-directed thought 0.22 ** 0.22 ** 0.42 ** 0.31 **
Self-directed action 0.27 ** 0.22 ** 0.45 ** 0.33 **
Stimulation 0.23 ** 0.18 ** 0.22 ** 0.23 **
Hedonism 0.27 ** 0.16 0.37 ** 0.28 **
Achievement 0.23 ** 0.19 * 0.40 ** 0.29 **
Power—dominance 0.25 ** 0.06 0.03 –0.06
Power—resources 0.26 ** 0.05 0.06 –0.02
Face 0.25 ** 0.13 0.17 * 0.14
Security Personal 0.25 ** 0.23 ** 0.29 ** 0.28 **
Security Societal 0.39 ** 0.35 ** 0.39 ** 0.41 **
Tradition 0.42 ** 0.42 ** 0.38 ** 0.45 **
Conformity—rules 0.27 ** 0.25 ** 0.15 0.25 **
Conformity—interpersonal 0.25 ** 0.20 * 0.19 * 0.23 **
Humility 0.29 ** 0.28 ** 0.13 0.27 **
Universalism—nature 0.32 ** 0.32 ** 0.27 ** 0.34 **
Universalism—concern 0.28 ** 0.34 ** 0.25 ** 0.33 **
Universalism—tolerance 0.39 ** 0.35 ** 0.34 ** 0.40 **
Benevolence—care 0.38 ** 0.32 ** 0.46 ** 0.42 **
Benevolence—dependability 0.29 ** 0.24 ** 0.45 ** 0.35 **
SPP-25
Perseverance and proactive approach 0.26 ** 0.30 ** 0.27 ** 0.27 **
Personal coping skills and tolerance of negative emotions 0.24 ** 0.36 ** 0.21 ** 0.21 **
Openness to new experiences and sense of humor 0.02 0.36 ** 0.12 ** 0.06
Optimistic attitude to life and the ability to mobilize
oneself in difficult situations 0.25 ** 0.34 ** 0.21 ** 0.24 **
Tolerance of failures and treating life as a challenge 0.35 ** 0.37 ** 0.33 ** 0.34 **
Resiliency 0.33 ** 0.39 ** 0.33 ** 0.32 **
SWE
Empathic concern 0.24 ** 0.29 ** 0.27 ** 0.30 **
Personal distress 0.07 0.01 0.04 –0.04
Perspective taking 0.15 ** 0.22 ** 0.22 ** 0.22 **
RELAT 0.21 ** 0.13 ** 0.21 ** 0.20 **
TIPI
Neuroticism 0.14 ** 0.03 0.07 0.09
Extraversion 0.20 ** 0.10 * 0.18 ** 0.44 **
Conscientiousness 0.25 ** 0.17 ** 0.18 ** 0.31 **
Openness to experience 0.11 0.17 * 0.12 0.15
Agreeableness 0.21 ** 0.15 ** 0.17 ** 0.20 **
Willingness to have children 0.46 ** 0.45 ** 0.39 ** 0.46 **
*p< 0.05 and ** p< 0.01.
J. Clin. Med. 2021,10, 5802 11 of 17
Valence maturity to parenthood was correlated with life values to verify this compo-
nent of maturity to parenthood validity. Valence maturity to parenthood was positively
correlated with tolerance, tradition, and security societal values, and negatively correlated
with the face, power—resources, and power—dominance values. The validity of behav-
ioral maturity to parenthood was tested by correlational analyses with resiliency and the
willingness to have children. This component of maturity to parenthood was positively
correlated with the overall level of resilience and its dimensions: Perseverance and proac-
tive approach, openness to new experiences and sense of humor, personal coping skills
and tolerance of negative emotions, tolerance of failures and treating life as a challenge
and optimistic attitude to life, and the ability to mobilize oneself in difficult situations.
Furthermore, behavioral maturity to parenthood was strongly positively correlated with
young adults’ willingness to have children in the future. Cognitive–emotional maturity to
parenthood, on the contrary, was positively correlated with active coping and use of sup-
port. Moreover, the components of empathy of empathic concern and perspective taking
were positively correlated with cognitive–emotional maturity to parenthood. Lastly, the
external validity of overall maturity to parenthood was examined by correlational analyses
with the relationship satisfaction and personality dimensions. Three of the personality
dimensions, namely, extraversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness, were positively
associated with maturity to parenthood and relationship satisfaction.
4.4. Discussion
The test–retest correlations supported the strong reliability of the Maturity to Parent-
hood Scale, confirming the hypothesis 3. Furthermore, by verifying the validity of the MPS,
hypotheses H4–H7 were confirmed.
The validity of valence maturity to parenthood was confirmed by positive correlations
with an individual’s life values, such as tolerance, referring to acceptance and understand-
ing of other people who are different from us; tradition, accepting and maintaining the
customs, ideas, and traditions of one’s own culture, religion, or family, and respect for
tradition; and security societal, a person’s security and stability in society. The VMP sub-
scale also refers to a person’s ethical and moral norms and their coherent and integrated
value system. The higher the tolerance, tradition, and security societal, the more likely a
person is to present a higher level of valence maturity to parenthood. Furthermore, the
validity of VMP was confirmed with negative correlations between VMP and the face,
power—resources, and power—dominance values. These values refer to the importance
of maintaining and protecting public image and social status in a person’s value system,
power over people and resources, and control over people and material and social re-
sources. People who live by these values are reluctant to take on parental roles and are not
seen as good parents by society [
78
,
79
]. They might find the fulfillment of parental roles
difficult and might be at higher risk of psychopathology in parent–child relationships, e.g.,
by having too much control over a child. In this work, we focused on correlations relevant
for checking the validity of the subscales, while the results of this study showed that the
personality dimensions values are generally important for maturity to parenthood, not
only for the VMP subscale.
In the case of behavioral maturity to parenthood, the results confirmed that this
component of maturity to parenthood was positively correlated with the overall level of
resilience and its dimensions. Our results also suggest that, besides significant correlations
with BMS, resilience was also important for other aspects of maturity to parenthood.
Some studies have indicated that resilience can improve parents’ emotional and physical
wellbeing [
62
], which this research confirmed by indicating resilience as an important
factor of every aspect of maturity to parenthood—valence, behavioral, and cognitive–
emotional. Parenthood is a huge challenge for young adults and a new experience in their
life; thus, resiliency is important for coping with different family life challenges related to
parenthood [
80
,
81
]. Openness to new experiences and sense of humor, tolerance of failures,
and treating life as a challenge play important roles in preparing one to becoming a parent.
J. Clin. Med. 2021,10, 5802 12 of 17
Therefore, more resilient individuals might cope better with the challenges of parenthood
in the future. Furthermore, BMP was strongly positively correlated with young adults’
willingness to have children in the future, which also confirmed the convergent validity
of the BMS subscale; this is in line with assumptions of the concept that a person who
presents a high BMS manages their activities in intimate relationships and in other social
relationships, as well as in the economic and work spheres in order to take on parental
roles in the future.
CEMP was positively correlated with two of the components of empathy, namely,
empathic concern and perspective taking, but was not related to personal distress. Com-
passion and caring for others in need and the ability to consider someone else’s point
of view are very important for establishing a relationship with a child and for parental
responsiveness [
8
,
56
,
82
,
83
]. Empathy also promotes a positive climate in a family, mutual
support between partners, and good communication [
5
,
84
,
85
]. All aspects of maturity are
related to the effective regulation of emotions, which is essential for both empathic concern
and perspective taking. Maturity to parenthood is thus associated with involvement in
social relationships on the basis of care, empathic understanding of others’ needs or prob-
lems, and prosocial behaviors or attitudes. Empathic personal distress is associated with
problems with emotional regulation and emotional or social disturbances, which might not
be connected with the concept of maturity to parenthood.
The research results also confirmed Hypothesis 7, showing a positive relationship
between overall maturity to parenthood (OMP), relationship satisfaction, and personality
dimensions. Higher relationship satisfaction is related to greater support, which might fa-
cilitate taking on new social roles, including parenting ones [
28
,
53
,
59
]. Only the personality
traits of extraversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness were correlated significantly
with OMP, whereas no significant relationships were found with neuroticism and openness
to experience. Previous research has indicated that extraversion and agreeableness are
associated with greater involvement in parent–child relationships and a higher quality
of the above based on support and cooperation [
2
,
18
]. There was no negative correlation
between OMP and neuroticism, which is commonly described as a predictor of perinatal
depression or negative reactions to children [
43
]. It might be that emotional instability does
not significantly affect the vision of future parenthood, instead shaping the transition to
parenthood and the fulfillment of parenting roles when real challenges occur, as previous
studies have indicated.
5. Conclusions
Maturity to parenthood is an interindividual variable that manifests itself in various
spheres of a person’s functioning: the areas of values, behaviors, cognition, and emotions,
which may also differ depending on age or sex due to individual developmental and
relational factors. This research explored, in two studies, the development, reliability, and
validity of the Maturity to Parenthood Scale (MPS), a measure of maturity to parenthood
in childless young adults. The MPS is the only questionnaire to date that measures the
complex construct of maturity to parenthood, focusing on the extremely important aspect
of readiness to take on parental roles in the future. The MPS appears to be a reliable
and valid measure comprising the following three subscales: valence, behavioral, and
cognitive–emotional maturity to parenthood. The MPS may help to assess maturity to
parenthood and to highlight areas where young adults need further support from their
relatives or even society. The results also confirmed that both broad- and narrow-band
individual differences and contextual factors are important for maturity to parenthood.
Taking the perspective of clinical medicine and psychology, the above results may be
helpful for judiciary and social welfare (e.g., assessing candidates to be adoptive or
foster parents) or medical and psychological care (e.g., helping patients in dealing with
decisions to undergo infertility treatment). For example, the MPS is a tool that might be
used by health care specialists such as psychologists and therapists in their counselling
practice, while working with infertile couples seeking therapeutic support due to stress.
J. Clin. Med. 2021,10, 5802 13 of 17
Knowledge and reflection on the dimensions of maturity to parenthood might facilitate
preparation to parenthood, either biological or adoptive/foster. It might also be useful
in designing preventive actions due to a higher risk of developing mood disorders or
relationship problems in these couples. Psychoeducation and psychosocial interventions
directed at young people should address the issue of maturity to both marriage and
parenthood. Raising awareness on the importance of this type of maturity among indi-
viduals who include parenting in their plans might support and facilitate their future
transitions to parenthood.
6. Limitations and Future Directions
The presented research, despite its valuable results, also has several limitations. In
our study, we examined only young Polish adults, which limits the generalizability of
the results. Furthermore, women constituted the vast majority of the studied sample;
therefore, more men should be examined in future studies. Additionally, the study sample
was not representative, mostly consisting of young adults who were well educated and
worked, which also limits the generalizability of the results to the population. The Matu-
rity to Parenthood Scale is a self-report questionnaire; thus, people may also be biased
when they report on their own experiences. In future studies, it would be interesting to
adapt the MPS in other countries and examine if there are intercultural differences in
terms of the maturity to parenting in young adults, and to conduct longitudinal studies to
investigate if maturity to parenthood assessed with the MPS is related to parental respon-
siveness when young adults become parents. Conducting research involving young adult
couples would also be very interesting and checking the levels of maturity to parenthood
in clinical samples and the consequences for the fulfillment of parental roles in the future
(longitudinal study).
Author Contributions:
Conceptualization, A.B.Ł.-M. and M.K.; methodology, A.B.Ł.-M. and M.K.;
validation, A.B.Ł.-M.; formal analysis, A.B.Ł.-M.; investigation, A.B.Ł.-M.; data curation, A.B.Ł.-M.;
writing—original draft preparation, A.B.Ł.-M. and M.K.; writing—review and editing, A.B.Ł.-M.
and M.K.; supervision, M.K.; project administration, A.B.Ł.-M.; funding acquisition, A.B.Ł.-M. All
authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.
Funding:
The preparation of this paper was supported by the University of Gda´nsk (Small Grants
programme - UGrants-start), grant number 533-W000-GS07-21.
Institutional Review Board Statement:
This study was conducted according to the guidelines of the
Declaration of Helsinki and approved by the Ethics Board for Research Projects at the Institute of
Psychology, University of Gdansk, Poland (decision no. 7/2018).
Informed Consent Statement:
Informed consent was obtained from all subjects involved in the study.
Data Availability Statement:
The presented data in this study are available from the corresponding
author upon request.
Conflicts of Interest:
The authors declare no conflict of interest. The funders had no role in the design
of the study; in the collection, analyses, or interpretation of data; in the writing of the manuscript; or
in the decision to publish the results.
J. Clin. Med. 2021,10, 5802 14 of 17
Appendix A
Maturity to Parenthood Scale (MPS)
The following questionnaire consists of various statements about parenting. Please
read each sentence and consider to what extent it applies to you. There are no right
or wrong answers here. Each answer is correct as long as it is true, i.e., in line with
what you think and feel. Please do not omit any line and circle only one of the
seven possibilities on each line.
Strongly
Disagree Disagree Somewhat
Disagree
Neither Agree Nor
Disagree
Somewhat
Agree Agree Strongly
Agree
1 In my life, I would like to experience being a parent. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
2 I often picture myself playing and caring for my children. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
3 I know why I would like to become a mother/father. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
4 I am looking for a full-time job so that I can take maternity and/or parental leave. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
5 Being a parent is the most beautiful but also the most difficult role in human life. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
6 I am talking to my partner about parenting. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
7I can take care of a baby, such as changing diapers and clothes, washing, and
soothing. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8
I am open to various scenarios of my/my partner’s pregnancy and childcare (e.g.,
sick leave during pregnancy vs. work until the end of pregnancy and future
mother’s delivery by Caesarean section vs. natural delivery).
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
9 I think I would do well as a mother/father. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
10 I take into account aging in my plans for parenting. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
11 I know that the decisions and choices I make will affect my child’s development. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
12 There are many people among my friends who are parents; therefore, they will
surely advise me when I become a parent. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
13 I have always known that I want to have children. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
14
When buying a flat on a loan, I will take into account the enlargement of my family.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
15
I believe that I will be able to reconcile parenthood with the other roles that I fulfill
in life, and it will give me complete happiness. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
16 At the end of my life, I want to be proud that I have raised a good person/people. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
17 I know that when a baby is born, it can be harder than I imagine, and the
characteristics of a baby may surprise me. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
18 The role models I have in my parents will allow me to raise a happy child. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
19 The thought of parenting responsibilities is pleasing to me. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
20
I am interested in what equipment is needed for childcare to be functional and safe.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
21 I will choose my professional future so that I can combine parenting with work. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
22
I believe that neither money nor career are important in life, and the most important
thing is family. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
23 I would like to show my children the world and teach them all I can. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
24 In raising my child, I will try to avoid the mistakes that my parents made. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
J. Clin. Med. 2021,10, 5802 15 of 17
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