When Partners Become Parents: The Big Life Change for Couples

When Partners Become Parents: The Big Life Change for Couples

When Partners Become Parents: The Big Life Change for Couples

When Partners Become Parents: The Big Life Change for Couples

Synopsis

When it first appeared in 1992, this book became an instant must-read on the lists of new parents and family studies professionals alike. Its message is just as relevant, just as timely, and perhaps even more important today. As indicated in the new foreword, by John M. Gottman, and in the updates and new afterword provided by the authors, the transition to parenthood remains one of the most challenging periods in adulthood. Readers today will be rewarded, just as earlier readers have been, by the stories reported in the pages of this book and by the wise counsel of the authors who put those stories in context.

Excerpt

Babies are getting a bad press these days. Newspaper and magazine articles warn that the cost of raising a child from birth to adulthood is now hundreds of thousands of dollars. Television news recounts tragic stories of mothers who have harmed their babies while suffering from severe postpartum depression. Health professionals caution that child abuse has become a problem throughout our nation. Several books on how to "survive" parenthood suggest that couples must struggle to keep their marriage alive once they become parents. In fact, according to recent demographic studies, more than 40 percent of the children born to two parents can expect to live in a single-parent family by the time they are eighteen (Glick and Lin 1986). The once-happy endings to family beginnings seem clouded with strain, violence, disenchantment, and divorce.

What is so difficult about becoming a family today? What does it mean that some couples are choosing to remain "child-free" because they fear that a child might threaten their well-established careers or disturb the intimacy of their marriage? Is keeping a family together harder than it used to be?

Over the last three decades, sociologists, psychologists, and psychiatrists have begun to search for answers to these questions. Results of the most recent studies, including our own, show that partners who become parents describe an ideology of more equal work and family roles than their mothers and fathers had; actual role arrangements in which husbands and wives are . . .

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