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Transition to Parenthood

Parenthood As Crisis Versus Transition To Parenthood, Changes In The Marital Relationship, Theoretical Assumptions, Alternative/multicultural FindingsConclusion


Within the family life-cycle literature, the addition of a first child to the marital system is considered one of the stages that a family will likely experience during its developmental lifetime. For the couple experiencing the birth of a first child, this change is one of most unsettling, but most common, examples of change within a marital relationship. Indeed, having a baby has been ranked as high as sixth out of 102 stressful life events (Dohrenwend et al. 1978). It is also one of the more common occurrences for a couple, with over 1,000,000 first-born babies born annually to couples in the United States (Statistical Abstract of the United States 2000). Nora Ephron, in the novel Heartburn, sums up the potential impact of a baby on the marital relationship: ". . . Now, of course, I realized something else no one tells you; that a child is a grenade. When you have a baby, you set off an explosion in your marriage, and when the dust settles, your marriage is different from what it was. Not better, necessarily; not worse, necessarily; but different" (1983, p. 158).


The transition to parenthood is one of the most exciting life events a person can experience. Although this entry may paint a rather negative picture, much individual joy and potentially positive marital changes can occur as a result of having a baby. Belsky and Kelly observed that "some marriages decline and others improve during the transition" (1994, p. 17). All individuals and marriages, though, change as a result of a baby.


Bibliography

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GLEN H. STAMP

Additional topics

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaPregnancy & Parenthood