Date of Award:

1-1-1981

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Family, Consumer, and Human Development

Advisor/Chair:

Brent C. Miller

Abstract

Forty-two couples expecting their first child volunteered to participate in a study of the transition to parenthood. Personal well-being, self-esteem, marital satisfaction, and parenting competence of the couples were assessed during pregnancy, and then again when babies were six weeks and fifteen weeks old. Parents were asked to report how much support they had received from their doctors, churches, family, and friends, and other sources, after their baby was born. Personal well-being and parenting competence increased for women after they became mothers. Personal well-being decreased and parenting competence increased for new fathers. Marital satisfaction decreased significantly after couples had their first child; women were less satisfied with their marriages than men were, at fifteen weeks postpartum, possibly because they were more involved in infant care than they expected to be, and felt tied down. Doctors and churches were found to be important sources of support for new parents. Marital satisfaction at fifteen weeks postpartum was positively related to support from doctors, churches, and friends. Support from family was positively related to personal well-being. Parenting competence was not related to any of the kinds of support under investigation, and appeared to develop in response to contact with the infant, and caring for the infant. Mothers were more involved than fathers in caring for and playing with their infants in the early weeks.

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