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20-05-2020 | Original Paper | Uitgave 7/2020

Journal of Child and Family Studies 7/2020

Parenting and Relational Well-being During the Transition to Parenthood: Challenges for First-time Parents

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 7/2020
Sylvie Lévesque, Véronique Bisson, Laurence Charton, Mylène Fernet
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The transition to parenthood is a momentous time that has numerous repercussions for new parents, as a couple and as individuals. This qualitative exploratory study examines new parents’ experiences and perceptions of the challenges in assuming the parenting role and maintaining relational well-being. Twenty-three new parent heterosexual or same-sex couples, belonging to various ethnocultural groups, with a child aged from 6 to 18 months, and residing in the Greater Montreal Area (Québec, Canada) underwent semi-directed dyadic interviews followed by individual interviews. Topics addressed concerned their trajectories before, during, and after the child’s birth. Thematic analysis revealed three central challenges during the transition to parenthood: (1) loss of individuality and couplehood, given the primary identity as parent; (2) parental equality in terms of childcare and the associated tasks: a significant source of irritation; and (3) managing expectations: the influence of social norms and judgments on parental self-development. Gender, the fact of having borne the child or not, and identification as a homoparental family influenced the experience of the transition to parenthood. These challenges were amplified by factors that impeded their adjustment to the new parenting role: fatigue and lack of sleep; social isolation and feelings of solitude; and the work–school–family balancing act. Recommendations aimed at the sharing of tasks, the distribution of parental leave and the gendered nature of maternity are proposed to make new and future parents aware of these game-changing transformations during the transition to parenthood.

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