Transition to parenthood

The latest material added to the Australian Institute of Family Studies library database is displayed, up to a maximum of 30 items. Where available online, a link to the document is provided. Many items can be borrowed from the Institute's library via the Interlibrary loan system.

See more resources on Transition to parenthood in the AIFS library catalogue

Male callers to an Australian perinatal depression and anxiety help line - understanding issues and concerns.

Fletcher R, StGeorge J, Newman L and Wroe J
Infant Mental Health Journal 16 Sep 2019: Advance online publication
This article adds to what is known about fathers who seek help in the perinatal period, with a study of calls made to the Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia (PANDA) National Helpline. Calls from 129 men were examined. The review found that nearly three quarters of the men were concerned about their partner's mental health and over half were concerned about relationship breakdown. Many also raised concerns about their own mental health, the impact on their relationship with their child, and adjusting to the fathering role.

Alcohol and parenthood: an integrative analysis of the effects of transition to parenthood in three Australasian cohorts.

Borschmann R, Becker D, Spry E, Youssef G, Olsson C, Hutchinson D, Silins E, Boden J, Moreno-Betancur M, Najman J, Degenhardt L, Mattick R, Romaniuk H, Horwood L and Patton G
Drug and Alcohol Dependence 13 Feb 2019: Advance online publication
Research has found that young people consume alcohol in increasing amounts through the teenage years and early twenties before decreasing in the late twenties and early thirties. One theory is that the transition to parenthood is responsible for this decline. This article tests this theory, comparing alcohol consumption and parenting status using data from three longitudinal studies: the Australian Temperament Project (ATP), the Christchurch Health and Development Study (CHDS) from New Zealand, and the Victorian Adolescent Health Cohort Study (VAHCS). The findings show that, for most women in their twenties and thirties, parenting an infant was associated with reduced alcohol consumption. However, this reduction changed after 12 months with drinking levels returning close to pre-parenthood levels after five years. There was little change among men. Overall, the transition to parenthood has no sustained impact on parental alcohol consumption.

Predictors of mothers' self-identified challenges in parenting infants : insights from a large, nationally diverse cohort.

Corkin M, Peterson E, Andrejic N, Waldie K, Reese E and Morton S
Journal of Child and Family Studies v. 27 no. 2 Feb 2018: 653-670
This article explores the challenges of motherhood, drawing on a survey of 6,383 mothers with 9 month old infants taking part in the Growing Up in New Zealand longitudinal study. It identifies the main challenges experienced by mothers and considers the child, maternal, family and contextual factors associated with reporting specific challenges, including being a parent for the first time, ethnicity, maternal age, child health problems, parenting confidence, parenting satisfaction, and being in paid employment. The challenges identified relate to fulfilling the maternal role, time management, sleep deprivation, and personal change and adjustment.

Engaging men as fathers : how gender influences men's involvement in Australian family health services.

Pfitzner N, Humphreys C and Hegarty K
Journal of Family Issues v. 39 no. 16 2018: 3956-3985
Despite the modern ideals of 'involved fatherhood' and shared caregiving, parenting services and programs continue to be oriented toward mothers rather than mothers and fathers as co-parents. This article investigates how gender impacts on service providers' engagement with new fathers, drawing on a case study of the Baby Makes 3 respectful relationships program. This 3-week pilot program is being trialled in Victoria by Maternal and Child Health Services, as part of their suite of free programs offered to all new, first time parents. It is a universal intervention targeting fathers in health settings and aims to prevent intimate partner violence by promoting equal and respectful relationships between men and women during the transition to parenthood. The article reports on staff and father views on the gender-related factors that shape men's father identities, behaviours, and decisions to participate, and contends that valuing men's transition to fatherhood might not only increase father engagement in parenting support services, but also their participation in care work.

Great expectations: how gendered expectations shape early mothering experiences

Anderson R, Webster A and Barr M
Melbourne, Vic. : Women's Health Victoria, 2018.
Motherhood is commonly viewed as a time of great joy and effortless adaptation. However, mothers who fail to experience these expectations are more likely to suffer depression and anxiety and be less likely to seek help. This paper explores the gendered expectations about pregnancy, birth, and early motherhood, and how the mismatch between expectations and reality impacts on women's health and wellbeing. It highlights findings from the research literature and makes recommendations to challenge idealised representations of pregnancy and early motherhood, promote gender equitable relationships and parenting, and improve service responses and support.

When is the second one coming? The effect of couple's subjective well-being following the onset of parenthood.

Luppi F
European Journal of Population v. 32 no. 3 Aug 2016: 421-444
Parenthood has a strong impact on one's life, and may influence the decision of having more children. Using data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey, this aticle investigated how the subjective experience of the first parenthood may influence the decision to have a second child. It examines whether factors such as changes in subjective wellbeing, unexpected difficulties, adjustment to parenthood, satisfaction with housework division, and reconciliation of work and family are related to the timing of any second child. The results indicate that families adopting traditional gender roles more quickly have a second child: suggesting advantages in specialisation or rather a lack of adequate support to working parents.

The family life course and health : partnership, fertility histories, and later-life physical health trajectories in Australia.

O'Flaherty M, Baxter J, Haynes M and Turrell G
Demography v. 53 no. 3 Jun 2016: 777-804
Research suggest that people's health in later-life reflects the occurrence and timing of social patterns over an individual's life, including the presence and timing of parenthood, marriage, and marital disruption. This articles builds on the research by investigating the impact family life-course trajectories on physical health, from ages 18 to 50, for men and women in Australia. Data is taken from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey. The findings indicate that - for men - family-life journeys characterised by early family formation, no family formation, an early marital disruption, or high fertility are associated with poorer physical health. However, for women, only those who experienced both a disrupted marital history and a high level of fertility were found to be in poorer health.

The family life course and health: partnership and fertility histories and physical health trajectories in later life

O'Flaherty M, Baxter J, Haynes M and Turrell G
Indooroopilly, Qld. : Life Course Centre, Institute for Social Science Research, University of Queensland, 2015.
This paper adds to the research on how family life pathways are linked to physical health in later life. A new body of research has emerged which links the occurrence and timing of significant events such as marriage, divorce, and childbirth with health outcomes in later life, but many studies have investigated these partnership and fertility events independently. This paper uses a holistic classification of marital and fertility trajectories from ages 18-50 to predict later life physical health, using data from the Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey. The findings indicate that long-term family life course trajectories are strongly linked to later life health for men, but only minimally for women. For men, family trajectories characterised by early family formation, no family formation, an early marital disruption, or high fertility, are associated with poorer physical health. Among women, only those who experienced both a disrupted marital history and a high level of fertility were found to be in poorer health.

Interrelationships among home ownership and early family events in Australia

Spallek M
2015.
"The generations of Australians who entered adulthood in the second half of the twentieth century experienced a standard housing tenure trajectory that was more clearly defined than it is today. Young adults would typically leave the family home to marry and await the birth of their first child while residing in a rental home before entering into home ownership. The housing tenure trajectories of later generations who entered adulthood closer to the turn of the twenty-first century have become destandardised, but there is little empirical analysis of these trajectories or their consequences ... This thesis draws on longitudinal data from the first ten waves (2001-2010) of the Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey to investigate the current housing tenure pathways of young families. The research examines whether the order and timing of transitions of key life-events with respect to home ownership attainment have indeed shifted. The three primary research questions addressed in this thesis are: 1. What are the housing pathways and associated family life events for families of child bearing age in contemporary Australia? 2. What is the timing of birth relative to the transition into home ownership for married women? 3. Is the timing and order of the two major life events, birth of a child and transition into home ownership, associated with housing affordability problems?"

Healthy dads?: the challenge of being a new father

Colquhoun G and Elkins N
Hawthorn West, Vic. : beyondblue, 2015.
Parenthood is a major life changing event for both men and women - and a time of heightened vulnerability to psychological distress. In response to research highlighting the risks of significant mental health problems for new fathers, mental health advocacy group beyondblue commissioned this report to learn more about this issue and how best to help new fathers. The report investigates how psychological distress is experienced by new fathers and the barriers and facilitators of help seeking, as well as appropriate communication concepts for engaging with this group and strategies to help build their resilience. The report draws on a knowledge audit of existing literature and stakeholder views, 16 qualitative discussion groups, a quantitative online survey of over 1,500 new fathers, and an online forum conducted with 23 new fathers. The outcomes of this research will inform the development and design of projects led by beyondblue to promote mental health and wellbeing for new fathers.

Life satisfaction across life course transitions [Reprint]

Qu L and De Vaus D
Journal of the Home Economics Institute of Australia v. 22 no. 2 2015: 15-27
Does life satisfaction improve or decline as people grow older? What happens to people's outlook as they pass through the common events of life? This paper investigates trends and patterns in life satisfaction across the life course, using data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey. Almost 27,000 people aged 15 years and older were followed for over a decade as they navigated through seven transition events - leaving the parental home, forming a relationship, having children, relationship separation, becoming 'empty nesters', retirement, and the death of a partner. The findings show how life satisfaction changes over time and the differences and similarities in how men and women respond to events.

The stress cost of children

Buddelmeyer H, Hamermesh D and Wooden M
Parkville, Vic. : Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, University of Melbourne, 2015.
This paper investigates whether the addition of a child to a family imposes hitherto unaccounted factors that affect the decision to have a child or that increase the perceived costs of rearing a child. Previous models have focused on the monetary and time costs of children - this paper extends these to include the stress costs of birth, having children, and the departure of a child from the home. The model is tested with data taken from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey and the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).

Life satisfaction across life course transitions

Qu L and De Vaus D
Melbourne, Vic. : Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2015.
Does life satisfaction improve or decline as people grow older? What happens to people's outlook as they pass through the common events of life? This paper investigates trends and patterns in life satisfaction across the life course, using data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey. Almost 27,000 people aged 15 years and older were followed for over a decade as they navigated through seven transition events - leaving the parental home, forming a relationship, having children, relationship separation, becoming 'empty nesters', retirement, and the death of a partner. The findings show how life satisfaction changes over time and the differences and similarities in how men and women respond to events.

Depression and anxiety in expectant and new fathers : longitudinal findings in Australian men.

Leach L, Mackinnon A, Poyser C and Fairweather-Schmidt K
British Journal of Psychiatry v. 206 no. 6 Jun 2015: 486-493
This article investigates whether becoming a first-time father is associated with increases in depression or anxiety. Data is taken from a longitudinal survey of young men in Australia, aged 20-24 years old at baseline, with assessments conducted at four time points over 12 years. The data was analysed for levels of depression and anxiety, whether partner was pregnant, or whether respondent had a child under 1 year old. Over the study period, 88 men were expectant fathers, 108 men were new fathers, and 626 men remained non-fathers.

Parenthood and risk preferences

Gorlitz K and Tamm M
Bonn, Germany : IZA, 2015.
"This study analyzes how risk attitudes change when individuals become parents using [German] longitudinal data for a large and representative sample of individuals. The results show that men and women experience a considerable increase in risk aversion which already starts as early as two years before becoming a parent, is largest shortly after giving birth and disappears when the child becomes older. These findings show that parenthood leads to considerable changes in individual risk attitudes over time. Thus, analyses using risk preferences as the explanatory variable for economic outcomes should be careful in interpreting the findings as causal effects."--Author abstract.

The stress cost of children

Buddelmeyer H, Hamermesh D and Wooden M
Bonn, Germany : IZA, 2015.
This paper investigates whether children impose a stress 'cost' upon parents - adding a new dimension to the measurement of the monetary and time costs of children. It uses longitudinal data from Australia and Germany to examine if the birth of a child exerts either time or financial stress or pressure upon parents. The impact of a child leaving home is also investigated. Data is taken from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey and the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).

Fatherhood and mental illness: a review of key issues

Price-Robertson R
Melbourne, Vic. : Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2015.
There is growing research interest in the intersections between men's mental illness and family life. Written for practitioners and policy-makers, this paper provides an overview of some of the key issues involved, including men's mental health during the transition to parenthood, the impact on child development and parenting, fathers' experiences of mental illness, stigma, and the service sector. The paper also features the personal stories of two fathers and one child, submitted by the Children of Parents with a Mental Illness (COPMI) Initiative.

Adjustment to parenthood and partners' satisfaction with their relationship after the first child in Australia

Luppi F
Moncalieri, Italy : Collegio Carlo Alberto, 2014.
This paper adds to the research on couple relationships in the transition to parenthood. In particular, it investigates whether the short-term effect of the arrival of the first child on marital relationship satisfaction mirrors reconciliation in family and work adjustment to parenthood. Using the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey, it analyses changes in partner relationship satisfaction over 3 years from the year of the first pregnancy.

Are you ready now for another child?: life satisfaction, work-family trajectories and the progression to the second child

Luppi F
2014
"The research aims to study the relationship between fertility and subjective wellbeing on a sample of Australian couples (source: HILDA 2001-2009), followed since the year of the pregnancy of the first child. In particular, I focus on whether the arrival of the first child modifies new parents' fertility expectations and the subsequent probability to experience a second childbirth, as a consequence of the changes in couple's subjective wellbeing after the transition to the first parenthood."--Author abstract.

Shedding light on the difficulties and challenges experienced by mothers of infants.

Marshall E and Thompson A
Australian Psychologist v. 49 no. 1 Feb 2014: 44-53
This article explores the stresses and difficulties experienced by new mothers. Seven mothers of infants were interviewed regarding the subclinical difficulties and challenges they experienced and the underlying psychological issues at the core of those difficulties. The article discusses the findings in term of 3 themes: effectiveness as a mother, relationship dynamics, and sense of self.

State-of-the-art report: the new roles of men and women and implications for families and societies

Olah L, Richter R and Kotowska I
Europe : FamiliesAndSocieties project, 2014.
"This report presents the main research findings relevant to the research in Work Package 3: 'The new roles of men and women and implications for families and societies'. It first depicts the development of family forms in Europe, with a focus on the de-standardization of the family life course and the interplay between the changes in family forms and in gender roles. It proceeds to describe the relationship between women's and men's new roles and family dynamics, and the implications of the changes in gender structures on the transition to parenthood. This is followed by two chapters which focus on the implications of these changes on intra-family organization, namely on changes in gender roles in doing family and on coping strategies of families under conditions of uncertainty and precariousness. Each chapter provides an overview over the main theoretical approaches, complemented by a review of the main empirical findings. Each chapter thus identifies the theoretical and empirical knowledge gaps and research needs essential for WP3. The report concludes with a summary of the research conducted in the work package and its relation to well-being in families."--Author abstract.

Parents' experiences of early parenthood - preliminary findings.

Sanders R, Lehmann J and Gardner F
Children Australia v. 39 no. 3 Sep 2014: 185-194
Parents are instrumental in the healthy development of their children, and consequently future generations, and should therefore be supported in their parental role. Using a Grounded Theory framework, 24 parents of 0- to 10-year-olds were interviewed about their experiences and preparation for parenthood. Despite their overall satisfaction, many felt underprepared, unsure, alone and inadequate during their transition to parenthood. Most of them felt like they struggled unnecessarily during the first year of parenthood, commenting on changes that would help support new parents. This paper reports the preliminary findings of the study.

'There's no substituting actual time with your child' : understanding first-time mothers' readiness to return to work.

Vujinovic N
Journal of Industrial Relations v. 56 no. 4 Sep 2014: 488-507
This article explores whether 18 weeks of Parental Leave Pay is enough to ensure first-time mothers' readiness to return to work. In particular, it investigates whether there is a relationship between adjustment to early motherhood and readiness to return to paid work. Using data from the Australian Maternity Leave Duration and Support Study, it investigates the work, home, community, baby, and maternal factors that influence the adjustment to motherhood; the extent to which first-time mothers feel they have adjusted to motherhood at 18 weeks postpartum; their readiness to return to work at this time; and the work, home, community, baby, and maternal factors that influence readiness to return to work.

Young parenting: a new beginning.

ACT Health, National Partnership Agreement on Indigenous Early Childhood Development (Australia)
Canberra, A.C.T. : ACT Health, 2014.
This video resource aims to give young people an insight into the day-to-day realities - both rewarding and challenging - of being a parent. It features interviews with young parents in the Australian Capital Territory, who share their experiences on: mentally preparing for parenthood; housing and planning for the arrival; telling your parents; looking after your health; attachment and bonding; couple relationships and support; single parenting; infant care and sleep issues; and budgeting.

Life events and subjective well-being: the case of having children

Pedersen P and Schmidt T
Bonn, Germany : IZA, 2014.
This paper explores the impact of having children on life satisfaction, in particular for countries with low or very low fertility. Using data from the German Socioeconomic Panel and the European Community Household Panel, it examines the impact of the birth of first and subsequent children on the subjective wellbeing and satisfaction of mothers. The paper also discusses the impact of different welfare regimes on parenthood satisfaction, as well as fertility trends, mother's labour force participation, and family policy. The findings echo the mixed results of early studies and have implications for family policy.

Lasting couple relationships: recent research findings

Parker R and Commerford J
Melbourne, Vic. : Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2014.
The recent increase in longitudinal data on couple relationships has enabled researchers to gain a deeper understanding into the complexities of these relationships over time. This paper provides an overview of the research, focusing on the areas of commitment, personality traits, transitioning to parenthood, health, and relationship satisfaction. The paper intends to inform practitioners and other professionals working with couples in an educative or therapeutic context.

The transition to fatherhood : attachments and adaptation.

Lightfoot J
2013.
This thesis by publication explores attachment style and adaptation during the early transition to fatherhood. Sections include: Adult attachment style, parenting stress and coping during the transition to fatherhood; Attachment style, father-to-infant attachment, reflective functioning and the delayed fatherhood transition; Father presence: the significance of self and other as father during the early fathering transition; and General discussion.

Postpartum emotional support : a qualitative study of women's and men's anticipated needs and preferred sources.

Rowe H, Holton S and Fisher J
Australian Journal of Primary Health v. 19 no. 1 2013: 46-52
Australian health policy emphasises prevention, early intervention and improved pathways to treatment for perinatal mental disorders. Primary care is vital to achieving these aims. The aim of this study was to understand the anticipated needs and preferred sources of mental health information and support of men and women expecting their first baby. Nulliparous English-speaking expectant parents attending childbirth education programs in public and private hospitals participated in single sex small group discussions in late pregnancy. Discussions were audio-recorded, transcribed and analysed thematically using the group as the unit of analysis. Eight groups (22 women; 16 men) encompassing diverse socioeconomic circumstances were conducted. Analyses showed idealised fantasies consistently tempered with realistic expectations about adjustment to life with a baby. However, there were diverse and gendered views about whether primary care providers should discuss mental health with parents of infants and willingness to complete written questionnaires or be referred for specialist mental health care. Men regard primary family care as mother not father inclusive. Expectant parents readily anticipate realistic postnatal adjustment and need for emotional support. Increased provision of services that meet men's needs and public understanding and acceptance of Australian integrated models of primary postnatal mental health care are needed.

An evaluation of the Relaxing into Parenting Program

Buscombe K
Curtin, A.C.T. : Canberra Mothercraft Society, 2012.
The Relaxing into Parenting Program is a primary health care early invention program that aims to help first time parents with the anxieties and difficulties of transition. It was piloted and evaluated in 2005-2006 as a partnership between the Canberra Mothercraft Society and ACT Community Health Child Youth and Women's Health Program, and in 2010 its content and target groups were expanded. This latest evaluation is part of ongoing research to ensure program enhancement, and focuses on client satisfaction and outcomes and implementation.

'A lesbian family in a straight world' : the impact of the transition to parenthood on couple relationships in planned lesbian families.

O'Neill K, Hamer H and Dixon R
Women's Studies Journal v. 26 no. 2 Dec 2012: 39-53
This article explores the transition to parenthood for lesbian women in New Zealand. Eight women were interviewed, highlighting similarities and differences to heterosexual women and the impacts on couple relationships. The article concludes with recommendations for further research and legislation.
Subscribe to