Group Title: impact of the wife's employment status on first-time parents' occupational and familial roles
Title: The impact of the wife's employment status on first-time parents' occupational and familial roles
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Title: The impact of the wife's employment status on first-time parents' occupational and familial roles
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Copyright Date: 1986
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Full Text

THE IMPACT OF THE WIFE'S EMPLOYMENT
STATUS ON FIRST-TIME~ PARENTS' OCCUPATIONAL
AND FAMILIAL ROLES









CAROL L. BOBBY


A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE
REQUIREMENTS FOR THIE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY






UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


1986





ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS


The completion of this dissertation is a major

milestone in my life. It could not have been done without

the continued support of the University of Florida Counselor

Education faculty, my friends in Florida, or my family. I

would like to thank all of these people for their guidance

and love.

Special thanks are afforded to Dr. Ellen Amatea,

chairperson, for her willingness to work with me on this

project long distance. Dr. Amatea always found time to

listen to my concerns and guide me through the dissertation

procedures during our long distance phone calls.

Furthermore, she made special efforts to plan extra meetings

with me during my return trips to Florida. I also want to

express my gratitude to my other committee members. Both

Dr. Constance Shehan and Dr. Robert Myrick provided

important suggestions, critical comments, and support as I

planned and completed this research project.

To my special friends H~erb Steier, Nancy Blackmon,

Andres Nazario, Peggy Fong, and Jim Pitts, I extend my

thanks for providing me with both places to stay and much

needed relaxing entertainment on my return "work" trips to

Gainesville. The special efforts of these friends kept my

spirits up as I dealt with dissertation revisions and

"preseminar butterflies." Also, thanks are due to all the

couples who participated in this study, for without them,

this study would not have been completed.





Finally, this project is a study on the transition

to parenthood for first-time parents; therefore, my

gratitude extends to many special people who supported me

during my own transition to parenthood status. I became a

mother twice during the time spent planning and researching

this project. Without the help of my good friend and

babysitter, Lynne Goode, I could never have found the time

to finish this dissertation. Her loving care of my sons has

been an enormous help. To my two sons, Alaric and Colin, I

pledge my unconditional love. Alaric has been a joy in my

life and has given me firsthand knowledge on what it means

to become a new parent. Colin, my newborn, is extending

that knowledge daily as he lovingly returns my smiles and

coos. Lastly, words are inadequate to express the gratitude

due to my husband, Donald. Don and I have been a team for

many years. His extensive knowledge of my moods enabled him

to be patient when patience was needed, to offer support and

encouragement when my tasks seemed overwhelming, and to

provide love throughout this stressful process. Thank you,

Don. As requested, I promise "never, never" to do this

again.


iii





TABLE OF CONTENTS

PAGE

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT.................................i

LIST OF TABLES...................,...................v

ABSTRACT.....................................,...i

CHAPTER

I INTRODUCTION................................1

Scope of the Problem...........................2
Need for the Study.............................6
Purpose of the Study...........................9
Statement of the Problem.......................10
Significance of the Study.....................,.10
Definition of Terms............................13
Organization of the Study......................15

II REVIEW OF LITERATURE...........................16

The Transition to. Parenthood as Crisis:
Theory and R~esearch ................... .....16
Effect of the Transition to Parenthood on
Marital Satisfaction: Theory and
Research..........,...............29
An Interactive Approach to the Transition
to Parenthood: A Life-Span Perspective......42
A Final Summary on the Transition to Parenthood
Research................................7


III METHODOLOGY.................................7

Population and Sample..........................76
Procedures.................................. 7
Instrumentation............................. 8
Research Hypotheses............................86
Data Analysis Procedures.......................92
Methodological Limitations.....................94

IV RESULTS.....................................7

Description of the Sample......................98
Findings Relating to the Null Hypotheses......107
Summary.................................. 13





V DISCUSSION, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS..138

Discussion................................. 13
Conclusions................,...,............ 15
Recommendations........................... 16


APPENDICES.....................................16
APPENDIX A: LETTER OF INTRODUCTION............164
APPENDIX 8: INFORMED CONSENT FORM.............165
APPENDIX C: LIFE ROLE QUESTIONNAIRE...........106
APPENDIX D: TITLE LIST........................170

REFERENCES.. .................................9

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.. ..................................20





LIST OF TABLES


TABLE PAGE

1 MEAN AGES IN YEARS OF MALE AND FEMALE SUBJECTS
BY EMPLOYMENT CLASSIFICATION, OBTAINED F VALUES,
AND F PROBABILITIES FOR AGE VARIABLE BY SEX AND
EMPLOYMENT STATUS ................9

2 MEAN YEARS OF EDUCATION FOR MALES AND FEMALES BY
EMPLOYMENT CLASSIFICATION, OBTAINED F VALUES,
AND F PROBABLITIES FOR EDUCATION VARIABLE BY SEX
AND EMPLOYMENT STATUS............................100

3 RELATIONSHIP CHARACTERISTICS OF PARTICIPANTS.....101

4 OCCUPATIONAL CHARACTERISTICS OF PARTICIPANTS INJ
EACH EMPLOYMENT CLASSIFICATION GROUP.............102

5 SUBJECT RESPONSES TO HOW THE FIRST BIRTH AFFECTED
EMPLOYMENT STATUS.................................104

6 MEANi HOURS PER WEEK DEVOTED TO OCCUPATION UY SEX
AND EMPLOYMENT CLASSIFICATION, OBTAINED F VALUES,
AND F PROBABILITIES FOR HOURS PER WEEK VARIABLE
BY SEX AND EMPLOYMENT STATUS.....................105

7 FREQUENCIES AND PERCENTAGES REPORTED FOR INFANT
SEX, AGE, AND PREGNANCY PLANNING.................106

8 ANOVA RESULTS FOR FEMlALES AN~D MALES AMONG THREE
EMPLOYMENT CLASSIFICATIONS ON THE MARITAL
SATISFACTION SCALE, THE HOBBS CRISIS INDEX, AND
THE RUSSELL GRATIFICATION CHECKLIST..............109

9 RELATED SAMPLES t-TEST RESULTS BETWEEN MALE AND
FEMALE MEAN SCORES ONJ TH~E MARITAL SATISFACTION
SCALE, THIE HIOBBS CRISIS INDEX, AND THIE RUSSELL
GRATIFICATION CHECKLIST FOR THREE EMPLOYMENT
CLASSIFICATIONS..........................,... 11

10 LRSS SUBSCALE MEANS, F-VALUES, AND SIGNIFICANT
MEAN SCORE DIFFERENCES FOR NEW MOTHERS WHO VORK
FULL-TIME, PART-TIME, OR ARE UNE~lPLOYED..........118

11 LRSS SUBSCALE MEANS, F-VALUES, AND SIGNIFICANT
MEAN SCORE DIFFERENCES FOR NEW FATHERS WHOSE
WIVES WORK FULL-TIME, PART-TIME, OR ARE
UNEMPLOYED...................................11





12 MEAN MARITAL RATINGS OF THE COUPLE'S RELATION-
SHIP BEFORE THE BABY'S BIRTH (RBB) AND THE
RELATIONSHIP AFTER THE BABY'S BIRTH (RA) FOR FEMALES
IN EACH EMPLOYMENT CATEGORY WITH CORRESPONDING ANOVA
SUMMARY TABLE....................................12

13 MEAN MARITAL RATINGS OF THE COUPLE'S RELATION-
SHIP BEFORE THE BABY'S BIRTH (RBB) AND THE
RELATIONSHIP AFTER THE BABY'S BIRTH (RA) FOR MALES
IN EACH EMPLOYMENT CATEGORY WITH CORRESPONDING ANOVA
SUMMdARY TABLE ................... ............,.....131

14 FREQUENCIES AND PERCENTAGES OF FEMALES' AND MALES'
RATINGS OF THE MARITAL RELATIONSHIP BEFORE THE
BABY'S BIRTH (RBB) AND THE RELATIONSHIP AFTER
THE BABY'S BIRTH (RA) FOR EACH EMPLOYMENT
CLASSIFICATION...............................13

15 FREQUENCIES/PERCENT OF TOTAL SAMPLE (MALES AND
FEMALES) RATINGS OF THE MARITAL RELATIONSHIIP BEFORE
THE BABY'S BIRTH (RBB) AND THE RELATIONSHIP AFTER
THE BABY'S BIRTH (RA) FOR EACH EMPLOYMENT
CLASSIFICATION...............................13

16 INDEPENDENT SAMPLE t-TEST OF DIFFERENCES BETWEEN
MALE AND FEMALE MEAN RATINGS OF THE MARITAL
RELATIONSHIP BEFORE THE BABY'S BIRTH (RBB) AND THE
RELATIONSHIIP AFTER THE BABY'S BIRTH (RA).........134

A-1 FREQUENCY TABULATIONS OF MALES' AN,:D FEMALES'
PERCEPTIONS OF "IDEAL" AND "REAL" TIME SPENT
CHANGING THE BABY'S DIAPERS IN THE THREE
EMPLOYMENT CATEGORIES OF WIFE WORKING FULL-TIME
(FT), WIFE WORKING PART-TIME (PT), OR WIFE
NOT WORKING (NW).................................171

A-2 FREQUENCY TABULATIONS OF 1ALES' AND) FEMALES'
PERCEPTIONS OF "IDEAL" AND "REAL" TIME SPENT
BATHING THE BABY IN THE THREE EMPLOYMENT
CATEGORIES OF WIFE WORKING FULL-TIME
(FT), WIFE WORKING PART-TIME (PT), OR WIFE
NOT WORKING (NW).................................173

A-3 FREQUENCY TAB3ULATIONJS OF MALES' AND FEMALES'
PERCEPTIONS OF "IDEAL" AND "REAL" TIME SPENT
PLAYING WITH THE BABY IN THE THREE EMPLOYMENT
CATEGORIES OF WIFE WORKING FULL-TIME (FT), WIFE
WORKING PART-TIME (PT), OR WIFE NOT WORKING
(NW) ....... ....... ....... ....... ....... .....17


vii





A-4 FREQUENCY TABULATIONS OF MALES' AND FEMALES'
PERCEPTIONS OF "IDEAL" AND "REAL" TIME SPENT
FEEDING THE BABY IN THE THREE EMPLOYMENT CATEGORIES
OF WIFE WORKING FULL-TIME (FT), WIFE WORKING PART-
TIME (PT), OR WIFE NOT WORKING (NW)...........,...177

A-5 FREQUENCY TABULATIONS OF MALES' AND FEMALES'
PERCEPTIONS OF "IDEAL" AND "'REAL" TIME SPENT
COMFORTING THE DISTRESSED BABY IN THE THREE
EMPLOYMENT CATEGORIES OF WIFE WORKING FULL-TIME
(FT), WIFE WORKING PART-TIME (PT), OR WIFE
NOT WORKING (NW)...............................,..179

A-6 FREQUENCY TABULATIONS OF MALES' AND FEMALES'
PERCEPTIONS OF "IDEAL" AND "REAL" TIME SPENT
DRESSING THE BABY IN THE THREE EMPLOYMENT CATEGORIES
OF WIFE WORKING FULL-TIME (FT), WIFE WORKING PART-
TIME (PT), OR WIFE NOT WORKING (NW)..............181

A-7 FREQUENCY TABULATIONS OF MALES' AND FEMALES'
PERCEPTIONS OF "IDEAL" AND "REAL" TIME SPENT
PUTTING THE BABY TO SLEEP IN THE THREE
EMPLOYMENT CATEGORIES OF WIFE WORKING FULL-TIME
(FT), WIFE WORKING PART-TIME (PT), OR WIFE
NOT WORKING (NW)................................,.183

A-8 FREQUENCY TABULATIONS OF MALES' AND FEMALES'
PERCEPTIONS OF "IDEAL" AND "REAL" TIME SPENT
READING TO THE BABY IN THE THREE EMPLOYMENT
CATEGORIES OF WIFE WORKING FULL-TIME
(FT), WIFE WORKING PART-TIME (PT), OR WIFE
NOT WORKING (NW).................................185

A-9 FREQUENCY TABULATIONS OF MA~ILE~S' AND FEMALES'
PERCEPTIONS OF "IDEAL" AND "REAL" TIME SPENT
ARRANGING FOR A SITTER IN THE THREE
EMPLOYMENT CATEGORIES OF WIFE WORKING FULL-TIME
(FT), WIFE WORKING PART-TIME (PT), OR WIFE
NOT WORKING (NW).................................187

A-10 FREQUENCY TABULATIONS OF MALES' AND FEMALES'
PERCEPTIONJS OF "IDEAL" AN~D "REAL" TIM1E SPENT
CARING FOR A SICK BABY IN THE THREE
EMPLOYMENT CATEGORIES OF WIFE WORKING FULL-TIME
(FT), WIFE WORKING PART-TIME (PT), OR WIFE
NOT WORKING (NW).................................189


viii





Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate
School of the University of Florida in Partial
Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of
Doctor of Philosophy


TH-E IMPACT OF THIE WIFE'S EMPLOYMENT STATUS ONJ
FIRST-TIME PARENTS' OCCUPATIONAL AND FAMILIAL ROLES

By

Carol L. Bobby

August 1986

Chairperson: Ellen S. Amatea
Major Department: Counselor Education


This research examined the impact of a first birth

on husbands' and wives' occupational and familial role

satisfaction and involvement. The familial roles researched

included parental, marital, and domestic roles. The

occupational roles varied according to the wife's employment

status at six to nine months postpartum. Three employment

groups were examined: (1) husband and wife both employed

full-time; (2) husband employed full-time, wife employed

part-time; and (3) husband employed full-time, wife

unemployed. Role satisfaction was assessed from obtained

scale ratings of parental crisis, parental gratification,

and marital satisfaction. Role involvement was measured

from the husbands' and wives' perceptions of role

expectations, chiildcare task allocations, and familial and

occupational role participation levels.

Both mothers and fathers reported high levels of

marital and parental role satisfaction regardless of the

mother's employment status. No differences in satisfaction

were found among the three groups of husbands and wives when





analyzed separately. Gender, however, was found to be a

significant variable, with wives perceiving higher levels of

marital and parental satisfaction than husbands.

There were significant differences, however, in the

role expectations and childcare task allocations reported

among the wives and husbands in the three employment

groups. Fully employed mothers differed significantly from;

other mothers on occupational, parental, and domestic role

participation levels. For fathers, males whose wives were

unemployed reported significantly lower levels of parental

role participation, domestic role participation, and

domestic role salience than were reported by other fathers.

In addition, measurements of childcare task allocation

differentiated couples with unemployed wives from employed

couples. Mothers in all three groups, however, reported

assuming greater responsibility for childcare tasks than did

fathers.

It was concluded that reported levels of role

satisfaction may be mediated by role expectations and role

task structuring, with satisfaction being related to the

degree that expectations were met. It was also speculated

that the high levels of marital and parental satisfaction

obtained in this study might be attributed to (1) the high

percentage of planned births, (2) the postponement of the

first birth with regard to age and educational level of the

parents, and (3) the availability of financial resources.





CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTION



Cigars are bought. Flowers arrive. Congratu-

lations, gifts, and cards abound. A baby has been born, and

the proud, new parents are ecstatic with their

a ccomnpli shme n t. It has taken nine long months to receive

the fruits of their labor, but the birth has finally

occurred and the joy of first-time parenthood has

overwhelmed them. Motherhood has made a woman out of the

wife; fatherhood has made a man out of the husband. It is

an event never to be forgotten.

This portrayal of first-time parenthood is not

unusual. It is depicted in movies, novels, and even in

parenthood instruction manuals. Perhaps more important is

the fact that this portrayal represents the hopes and dreams

of all who embark on the uncertain journey of new

parenthood. While it is unfortunate that social

circumstances do not allow this script to be read for all

couples, at least one line of the stereotypical portrayal

always rings true. The line is the one describing first-

time parenthood as "an event never to be forgotten." In

fact, not only will the event never be forgotten, but few,





if any, events will ever come close to having as great an

impact on the couple as does the birth of the first child.



Scope of the Problem

There are many reasons for investigating the

significance of this impact. First, the couple unit must

undergo a major structural change from being a dyad to

becoming a triad. Traditionally, researchers have labeled

this structural change as the formation or birth of thie

family unit. Giiven that forming a family unit remains the

norm for a majority of adults in the United States, one

would expect an impressive body of social and psychological

research to have been published on this transitional stage

in a couple's life-span. This, however, is not the case.

In actuality, only about 170 of published family studies

found in sociological journals deal with the question of how

children affect the couple or parents (Atkinson and Gecas,

1978). Instead, most past research has focused on the

effect that couple or parental behavior has on the

developing child, which leaves shrouded in mystery such

topics as how the couple relates during pregnancy, what

stresses new parents face with the birth of their first

chiild, the interactional dynamics of new parents, and the

actual process by which the child is integrated into the

family unit.

Considering the paucity of research conducted to

date on this critical life stage, it is not surprising that





such process-oriented questions as posed above have not been

methodically researched; however, other conditions exist

which also make this transitional period worthy of study.

These conditions are the societal and individual pressures

which exist ini conjunction with, and perhaps as a result of,

the structural reorganization from a dyadic to triadic

unit. Most overt are this culture's societal pressures

encountered by new parents. For example, the instant that

couples become parents they are bombarded with advice on how

to create the healthy, happy baby. Thils plethora of

information ranges from thie best diaper to buy to how to

hold, feed, and love your baby. Overnight, society expects

couples to shift successfully from student status to full

professorship in the field of baby care (Rossi, 1968), while

never losing sight of the far reaching effects that their

behavior may have on the future psychological health of

their child. It is no wonder that new parents are

immediately overpowered by one unique aspect of the new

situation in which they find themselves; that is, the social

dictate which specifies that parenthood, unlike marriage, is

irrevocable. This untried drama of parent-child interaction

is to go on for as long as life itself.

Such societal pressures have an obvious

relationship to the individual pressures felt by new

parents. / The changes in life style patterns resulting from

the structural reorganization from dyad to triad, along with

society's expectations for these chang~es to occur happily





and smoothly, may create an inordinate amount of stress and

disruption for each member of the couple system. In fact,

it was recognition of this potential stress which led to the

first research conducted on the "transition to parenthoodd"

It is not extraordinary that the ideas for this

line of research were developed during the 1950s. During

this era America's expectations for the modern, affluent,

and nappy family were at a peak. Such high expectations for

tne family, in conjunction with the baby boom, served to

emphasize the importance of the transition to a family

unit. Concurrently, many other researchers began

conceptualizing the family as a system-oriented unit with

properties meriting further definition. Hence, both the

social and scientific interest in the family at this time

led specific researchers to view the birth of a couple's

first child as a "critical life event" (Le~asters, 1957).

Specifically, two major stages of scientific

inquiry influenced the direction taken in the transition to

parenthood research. First was Reuben Hill's (1949)

conceptualization of crisis in Families Under Stress. H~ill

defined crisis as "any sharp or decisive change for which

old patterns are found unrewarding and new ones are called

for immediately" (Russell, 1974, p. 294). Utilizing this

definition, Le~aster's (1957) suggested that the arrival of

a first-born could constitute a crisis as the couple

painfully reorganized their patterns to accommodate a three-

person system. Hence, many studies, designed to investigate





the newborn's effect on the parents, anticipated a stressful

transition and sought to measure the amount of "crisis"

experienced by first-timne parents. These studies may be

categorized as the "parenthood-as-crisis" approach in the

transition research.

Since studies following this crisis research model

reported mixed results, criticisms of both the measurement

procedures used in this research and the narrow

conceptualization of the first birth as a "crisis"

surfaced. To broaden the scope of the information looked at

in the transition to parenthood experience, several

researchers began to focus on how the new parental role

impacted on a couple's existing marital role. Parenthood

was viewed by these researchers as a stage transition in the

development of a couple's relationship; hence, the marriage

relationship was expected to change as role transitions

occurred in this developmental phase of adulthood. Since

evaluation of the marital relationship, at the time,

concerned itself with measurements of marital satisfaction,

this second stage of research inquiry is best categorized as

the "marital satisfaction/family development"' approach to

the transition to parenthood.

A mnore recent approach, termed the "process-

oriented social interaction" approach, seeks to describe the

changes occurring in the couple across a variety of

different life roles. In addition to the marital and

parental roles, the occupational and domestic roles are






































































m


examined. Building upon both the marital satisfaction

studies and the crisis research tradition, this approach

attempts to incorporate aspects of past research, as well as

to view the transition to parenthood as a process rather

than an outcome.

This study is based on the premise that an adequate

understanding of the transition to parenthood phase of adult

life requires a framework which takes into account the

multiple role contexts in which new parents find

themselves. From this perspective, rather than view

occupational and familial (marital, parental, and domestic)

roles as constituting "two separate and nonoverlapping

worlds" (Kanter, 1977, p. 8), it is imperative that research

be conducted which takes into account the interactions which

occur among these roles during tne transition to parenthood

stage.



NJeed for the Study

The importance of examining the intersection

between occupational and familial roles cannot be

overemphasized. The transition to parenthood is not an

isolated event. Rather, the assumption of parental roles

occurs in the midst of a complex set of ongoing life roles

such as career, marital, and domestic roles. Finding the

time and energy to commit oneself to the new and very

demanding role of parenting may cause drastic shifts in the

amount of time and energy committed to other central life

roles.





These shifts, and the role conflict accompanying

them during the transition to parenthood, have become more

evident in contemporary society since women have become more

prominent in the nation's labor force. No longer do women

automatically embrace full-time motherhood. For many

families maintaining two paychecks is a desirable, if not

necessary, choice; hence, the transition to becoming parents

inevitably forces couples to make decisions regarding their

occupational and family roles.

Unfortunately, most parenting research to date has

not accounted for the interaction between men's and women's

work and family roles. Several theorists have stated that

increases in women's educational and labor force attainments

have made much of the previous research on this family stage

outmoded (Alpert, 1981). They have underscored the need for

additional research which examines these varied life roles.

While several research studies have begun to note the

importance of variables such as age, education, and

employment status in relation to the transition to

parenthood, few studies have focused on employment status as

a major mediating variable during this critical life stage.

Hoffman (1978) noted that higher educational and

occupational positions of wives increased the mothers'

commitments to continue paid employment. La~ossa and

LaRossa (1981) suggested that the wife's employment status

may be an important variable in qualifying the relationship

between parenthood and family interactions. Entwisle and





Doering (1981) noted that employment and early parenting

roles were not easily combined by the women in their

sample. These researchers further noted that role conflict,

with respect to the wife's job, may be the prime source of

emotional difficulties in the postpartum period (Entwisle

and D~oering, 1981). Lastly, research specifically focused

on the working mother has observed thiat greater degrees of

role conflict were experienced by mothers who work part-time

rather than full-time (Palomna, 1972; Scanzoni, 1978). These

mothers appear more frustrated by their inability to

participate fully in either childrearing or in their

occupational field than do unemployed or fully employed

mothers. Resentment in the workplace is also fostered by a

part-time mother's inability to commit herself totally to

her joo's demands.

Despite these observations most transition to

parenthood researchers have continued to design research

studies with very little regard to the very different

employment contexts within which many couples today may find

themselves. Investigators have not attempted to determine

if differences exist in marital and parental role

satisfaction as a result of a couple's occupational

commitments. Specific questions which need to be addressed

are as follows: Does the couple's employment situation

affect marital satisfaction in the postpartum period? Does

the couple's employment situation affect the allocation of

childcare tasks divided between thec spouses? Does the



































































L


couple's employment situation influence the degree of crisis

or gratification reported by new parents? Does the couple's

employment situation influence the degree of com~mitment made

to marital, parental, and domestic life roles? Conversely,

do spouses' commitments to their family roles influence the

couple's employment situation? Since occupational

commitments can demand up to one-half of the new parent's

waking hours, it is reasonable to assume that variances in

this particular life role may have a tremendous impact on a

couple's ability to maintain satisfactory levels of marital

and parental role involvements.



Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study was to investigate

husbands' and wives' occupational and familial role

experiences following the birth of a couple's first child.

Familial roles researched included parental, marital, and

domestic or home maintenance roles. Occupational roles were

varied according to the wife's employment status at six to

nine months postpartumn. The husbands' and wives'

experiences in these different roles were examined by

analyzing their ratings of parental crisis, parental

gratification, marital satisfaction, perceived ideal

childcare task allocation, perceived real childcare task

allocation, and levels of role salience and role

participation for the parental, marital, domestic, and





occupational roles. This research was intended to be a

preliminary examination of how a couple's employment

situation impacts upon the transition to parenthood

experience.



Statement of the Problem

The specific problem examined in this study was the

effect that the birth of a first child hiad on perceptions of

parental crisis, parental gratification, and marital role

satisfaction for three groups of couples differing in their

employment situations. These three groups were (1) couples

in which both the husband and the wife were employed full-

time, (2) couples in which the husband was employed full-

time while the wife was employed part-time, and (3) couples

in which the husband was employed full-time and the wife was

unemployed.

Two variables which may have influenced the ratings

of role satisfaction reported by couples in these three

groups were also examined. 'The variables were (1) levels of

role salience and role participation for the occupational,

marital, parental, and domestic roles, and (2) role

allocation of specific childcare tasks.



Significance of the Study

As noted, only three employment classifications

were used in this research. Differences in these

classifications depended upon the mother's employment status





with the prerequisite that the father maintained full-time

employment. This particular approach was based on

historical tradition in that in most situations it was the

wife's employment which underwent changes following the

birth of a child. Entwisle and Doering (1981) state that

"if the mother's job and baby care could not be reconciled,

she, not her husband, made the work adjustments" (p. 216).

Furthermore, many couples still lean in the direction of a

woman's place is in the home with preschool children"

(Entwisle and Doering, 1981, p. 262).

Since changes often occur in the couple's

employment situation following the birth of a first child,

thsstudy s approach to investigating the impact of the

first birth as mediated by the couple's occupational

commitments may have important implications for research,

theory, and practice. If employment status were found to be

significantly related to differing degrees of reported

marital or parental role satisfaction in the postpartum

period of first-time parents, then future research could

address more specific issues concerning how roles_ are

experienced ty men and women involved in these various life

roles and what coping strategies are used to manag~e e

r,2es n cnflp$.Research will also need to adopt a

longitudinal frame of reference for studying the parenthood

experience. Parenthood is a lifelong commr~itment that is in

a constant state of flux. More children may be added to a

family which may again alter a couple's comnmitmnent to and








































































I


involvement in these various life roles. Future research

will need to examine these changes within a framework

conceptualizing occupational, marital, and parental life

roles as reciprocating influences in adult development.

Theory on role interactions, including role

involvement and role conflict, need also become more

cohesive as research begins to examine the effect that

changes in occupational and family roles may have on adult

development at specific stages in the life cycle. The

transition to parenthood is considered to be a critical

turning point in adult development. At this one stage of

life, important decisions involving occupational and family

commitm~ents must be made. These decisions can change for

life the opportunities afforded to both men and women in

their occupational fields, and the satisfactions obtained

from their family environment. Theories of adult

development could also become more comprehensive as

developmental stage models incorporate a clearer

understanding of the nature of occupational and family role

interactions.

Finally, these theoretical advances can, in turn,

be applied in practice for parenthood education program

development. New information on how parental roles may be

integrated with other life roles could be presented in

family life education programs as a service to new or

prospective parents. These types of programs may be viewed





as necessary first steps in obtaining broader changes in

society's view of the gender roles of parents in the work

force and in the home.

The method chosen to investigate the interactions

of occupational and familial roles among the three chosen

employment groups was a mailed questionnaire. Time and

financial limitations were the motivating factors involved

in this research choice.



Definition of Terras

To further one's understanding of the research

hypotheses outlined in Chapter III, the following terms are

clarified:

familial roles: refers to parental, marital, and domestic
or home maintenance roles.

couple: a unit comprised of a man and woman
legally married and currently living with one
another, and who have become first-time parents
within the past nine months.

employment status: refers to the number of hours per
week given to jobs outside of household demands by
men and women involved in this research.

husband employed full-time, wife employed full-
time: refers to both parents working at least
40 hours per week not including household or
childcare demands.

husband employed full-time, wife employed part-
time: refers to situations where the husband
works 40 or more hours per week while the wife
works 15-20 hours per week not including household
or childcare demands.

husband employed full-time, wife unemployed:
refers to situations where the husband works
40 or more hours per week while the wife is not
gainfully employed. The husband's employment hours
do not include household or childcare demands.





marital satisfaction: an attitude of greater or lesser
favorab~ility toward one's own marital relationship
at a given point in time that is measured by scores
obtained on the Marital Satisfaction Scale (Roach,
Bowden, and Frazier, 1981, p. 537).

parental crisis: any change in self, spouse, or
relationships with significant others which the
respondent defines as "bothersome" as measured by
items on the Hobbs Crisis Index (1965).

parental gratification: the satisfaction and/or fulfillment
experienced by respondents since the birth of their
first child as measured by items on the Russell
Gratification Checklist (1974).

level of occupational role salience: the degree of self
-investment and satisfaction that is expected from
one's occupational role.

level of marital salience: the degree of self investment
and satisfaction that is expected from one's
marital role.

level of parental role salience: the degree of self
investment and satisfaction that is expected from
one's parental role.

level of domestic role salience: the degree of self
investment an~d satisfaction that is expected from
one's home maintenance role.

level of occupational role involvement: the degree to which
one perceives oneself as being responsible for the
implementation of the occupational role.

level of marital role involvement: the degree to which one
perceives oneself as being responsible for the
implementation of the marital role.

level of parental role involvement: the degree to which one
perceives oneself as being responsible for the
implementation of the parental role.

level of domestic role involvement: the degree to which one
perceives oneself as being responsible for the
implementation of the domestic role.

childcare task allocation: the assignment of childcare
activities to a particular parent with the
expectation that the parent should assume





responsibility for the tasks. Assignment may
be verbally agreed upon by the spouses, or it may
be an unspoken expectation that one spouse will
assume responsibility for the task.


Organization of the Study

This dissertation is organized into five chapters.

Chapter Two contains a review of the related literature.

Topics covered include a review of theories and research on

the transition to parenthood for first-time parents. A

discussion of the research methodology, hypotheses, and data

analyses is presented in Chapter Three. Chapter Four

describes the research sample and presents the results of

the data analyses. Finally, discussion of the results,

conclusions, and recommendations for further research appear

in Chapter Five.





CHAPTER II

REVIEW OF LITERATURE



In this chapter a review of theories incorporated

into research on the transition to parenthood will be

discussed. The review is divided into three major sections:

(1) the transition to parenthood as crisis, (2) the effect

of the transition to parenthood on marital satisfaction, and

(3) an interaction approach to the transition to

parenthood. These divisions are time sequenced in that the

first section illustrates the beginning stages of research

on this critical stage of adult life, with the remaining two

sections illustrating how later research has built upon

previous studies. In addition, each section considers

conceptual and methodological problems inherent in the

research to date. Finally, a summary of the research is

provided which integrates concepts presented throughout the

chapter.



The Transition to Parenthood as Crisis: Theory and Research

In L957, Leidasters pioneered the transition to

parenthood research with his article describing first-time





parenthood as a crisis of accession. Using the definition

that Hill (1949) developed in his study of war separation

and reunion crises among family members, Le~asters startled

family scholars by applying the term crisis to an event

deemed to be both conventional and ordinary by cultural

standards. Yet if the idea behind the study was shocking,

Le~asters' published results were even more surprising.

Eighty-three percent of the couples jointly interviewed in

the project retrospectively assessed the birth of their

first child as an "extensive" or "severe" crisis period.

These results were arrived at by agreement between the

interviewer and the couple, and were based on the following

five-point scale: (1) no crisis, (2) slight crisis, (3)

moderate crisis, (4) extensive crisis, and (5) severe

crisis. Other notable results of the study included the

citation of concerns associated with the amount of crisis.

Those who viewed their adjustment to parenthood in the

extensive to severe crisis range mentioned concerns over

loss of sleep, chronic tiredness, confinement to the home,

loss of social contact, loss of job, additional housework,

guilt over parenting abilities, long hours, decline in

housekeeping standards, and worry over appearance. In

addition to these concerns, the spouses or fathers added the

following: economic worries, second pregnancy concerns,

decline in the sexual responsiveness of the wife, and a

general disenchantment with the parental role.





The unexpected, yet realistically plausible,

results of the Le~asters' study spurred an immediate

interest in further parenthood-as-crisis research, and the

subsequent investigative focus became centered on the

following question: Does the transition to parenthood

constitute a "crisis"? With the exception of the Le~asters

(1957) article and its initial follow-up study (Dyer, 1963),

the sole criterion for answering this question became based

on a 23-item checklist developed by Hobbs in 1965.

Looking first at Dyer's (1963) research design, it

is noted that essentially the investigator attempted to

replicate Le~asters' original findings. Dyer administered a

Likert-type crisis scale to a nonprobabilty sample of 32

urban, middle-class white couples whose first child had been

born within a previous two-year period. Like Lehlasters,

Dyer used a five-point scale to obtain the crisis score for

each couple. Use of a questionnaire, however, was

substituted for the conjoint interviews to obtain other

data. In support of the original findings, Dyer reported

that 53% of the couples in his study had experienced

"extensive" or "severe" crisis in adjusting to the birth of

the first child. Similar feelings to those reported by

Le~fasters were also noted and included confinement, fatigue,

anticlimax, economic pressures, plus sharing with

grandparents and other relatives.








































































L


19

Gaining impetus from the aforementioned studies of

first-time parenthood, Hobbs (1965, 1968) and his colleagues

(H~obbs and Cole, 1976; Hobbs and Wimbish, 1977) have

published a succession of articles designed to replicate,

reassess, and extend the parenthood-as-crisis research

series. To verify the reliability of the Le~asters and Dyer

findings, Hobbs (1965) designed a study with more control

than either of the previously discussed projects. First,

since Hobb~s' main objective was to determine if Le;~asters'

and Dyers' results obtained from nonprobability samples of

middle-class couples were generalizable to a probability

sample of first-time parents, the researcher used public

birth records and drew a random sample of first-time parents

who were white, resided within the city limits, and whose

first child had been born within the past 3-18 weeks. All

social classes from lower-lower to upper-middle were

represented in the sample. Secondly, unlike his

predecessors, Hobbs (1965) developed an objectively scored

checklist of 23 items to index the extent of crisis

associated with the arrival of the first child. This

checklist, while derived fromi the difficult feelings

reported by parents in the Le~asters and Dyer articles,

served to decrease the extent to which the investigator

could influence a couple's responses; hence, Hobbs' (1965)

new measure incorporated a control for threats to the

external validity of the research.





With these new research controls in effect, Hobbs

(1965) reported results which were significantly different

from those of Le~asters (1957) and Dyer (1963). In fact,

none of the 53 randomly selected couples from the Hiobbs

(1965) study were classified as having an "extensive" or

"severe" crisis in relation to the birth of the first

child. Instead, the majority of couples (86.8%) experienced

only a "slight" crisis, the modal response category.

F:urthermnore, the majority of subjects (70%~ of the women, 91%~

of the men) reported their marriages as happier and more

satisfying than before the arrival of the baby.

Because of such divergent findings, replication and

extension of the first three studies seemed essential to the

researchers. Hence, in 1908, Hobbs extended his study to

include a comparison between crisis scores obtained by use

of his checklist and scores obtained through focused

interviews such as those used by Le~asters (1957).

Ueauchamp, in a study reported by Jacoby (1969),

independently employed a methodology similar to the Hobbs'

extended study. Interestingly, both researchers found that

although the interview method yielded higher crisis scores

than did the checklist, there were still significantly fewer

mothers and fathers coded as having experienced a "severe"

crisis than were reported in the LeMasters (1957) and Dyer

(1963) research projects. Furthermore, noting that mothers'

mean crisis scores were significantly higher than fathers'

miean scores, and that these scores appeared to correlate





negatively with marital adjustment, Hobbs (1968) suggested

that it seemed "very probable that variables other than the

child (were] complicating the experiences of beginning

parenthood and [thus] confounding (the] research findings"

(p.416).

This conclusion had also occurred to other

researchers in this field during the 1960s. To begin the

empirical verification and specification of these "other

variables," Mieyerowitz and Feldman (1966) interviewed 400

couples on three occasions over a 10-month period regarding

the effect of pregnancy and birth on different aspects of

the marital relationship. While specific complaints such as

increased sexual incompatibility, unshared leisure time, and

a notable shift to a patriarchal power structure were

evidenced, it was still found that for the mean percentage

of time "things Iwere] going well" (p.79). Meyerowitz and

Feldman (1968) thus concluded that the crisis of the first

child should be viewed as a "significant transitional point

in maturation of the marital relationship--transition from

the dyadic state to a more mature and rewarding triadic

system (p.84).

In a theoretical reassessment of the parenthood-as-

crisis research, Jacoby (1969) critically reviewed and noted

the conceptual limitations of the few studies whiich had been

published to date. Specifically noted were the limitations

imposed by use of a checklist that yielded "crisis" scores.

Jacoby (1969) states:





it seems likely that any accession research
oriented around "crisis" will provide the
investigator with only a partial picture of the
adjustments required by the parenthood role. An
interest in the positive gratifications associated
with the arrival of a child would seem equally
appropriate to sociological research focusing on
parenthood as a developmental stage. Empirical
investigations of the rewards of parenthood are
few. (p. 722)


Despite these criticisms, however, Hobbs did not change his

approach in the studies published after Jacoby's article

(Hiobbs and Cole, 1976j; Hobbs and Wimbish, 1977) and

essentially replicated his earlier studies except for the

fact that one of the replications (Hlobbs and Wimbish, 1977)

used black couples instead of white couples. Nevertheless,

one parenthood-as-crisis researcher did consider Jacoboy's

suggestion and designed her study accordingly. That

researcher, Candyce Russell (1974), while attempting to

parallel Hobbs' 1968 study, chose to counteract the purely

negative aspects of parenthood (measured as crisis scores by

the Hobbs Index) by including a 12-item gratification

checklist which was intended to tap into aspects of

parenthood enjoyed by new parents. Excluding the

gratification measure, other aspects of study such as

sampling procedures replicated the Hobbs' (1968) research.

Additionally, Russell's (1974) results supported the

previous findings reported by HIobbs and colleagues (1976,

1977), which included data supporting the following: (1)

that the majority of new mothers and fathers experience only

a "slight" crisis (57.5'$ and 75.15 respectively), (2) that





mothers' mean crisis scores are significantly higher than

the fathers' scores, and (3) that most new parents note a

general improvement in the marital relationship following

the birth of the child.

A second improvement, which should be credited to

Russell's (1974) study, is the increased systematization of

both the correlates of the crisis and gratification scores.

Russell noted that measures of marital adjustment, planned

pregnancy, problem-free pregnancy and delivery, number of

years married, and quiet babies were negatively correlated

with high crisis scores, while premarital conception, low

priority of fatherhood to the father, and ill health of the

wife were positively correlated with crisis scores.

Furthermore, with regard to high parental gratification

scores, negative correlates included the years of education

for both the husband and the wife, occupational prestige,

and the length of marriage for wives over 23 years of age,

while positive correlates of gratification included measures

of marital and adjustment, a desire for more children, and

the priority given to both the father role and the mother

role. It is important to note also that the respondents in

Russell's (1974) study checked a far higher proportion of

"gratification" items than "crisis" items on the respective

checklists. Russell concluded that for most couples the

satisfaction from first-time parenthood clearly mitigated

the severity of its crisis.





In agreement with this conclusion, unpublished

articles by Ghlenberg (1970), Tooke (1974), and Bogdanoff

(1974) also found that adjustment to first-time parenthood

was not necessarily describable in "crisis" terminology, but

depended instead on factors such as age, planning of the

pregnancy, sex of parent, and preparation for childbirth.

In light of the previous descriptions of studies

belonging to the parent-as-crisis research series, two major

problem areas become evident: (1) conceptual problems, and

(2) methodological problems. In both cases, the problems

are serious, and must be given careful consideration and

thought before one may proceed with further study of the

development of the research on first-time parenthood.



Conceptual Problems

In many ways, the conceptual framing of first-time

parenthood as a "crisis" period was unfortunate in that it

emphasized a singular and individualistic picture of the

adjustments required of new parenthood. In other words, the

research became focused on individual evaluations of the

negative or disruptive aspects of becoming new parents, and

did not take into account such issues as (1) what is

considered normal activity during the transition to

parenthood; (2) whether change is viewed by the couple as

negative, positive, or neutral; (3) what attitudinal and

behavioral changes are required of first-time parents; and

(4) what are the rewards of new parenthood.





The narrowness of the crisis focus is even more

surprising when one notes the comments made by the

parenthood-as-crisis researchers in their own articles:

Hobbs (1965) presently an attitude of 'back-to-
the drawing-board' would appear
warranted . .More precise
definitions of variables, including
the concept of crisis, are needed..
More careful assessment of marriage
relationships, social behavior, and
living patterns before the first
child is born is essential.(p. 372)

Hobbs (1968) on the basis of the present
investigation, it would seem more
accurate to view the addition
of the first child to the marriages
as a period of transition...than to
conceptualize beginning parenthood
as a crisis experience for the
majority of new parents. (p.417)


Hiobbs and shifting from a crisis orientation
Cole (1976) to a more comprehensive approach
...is clearly necessary. (p. 730)


Russell Simmel's observation that a third
(1974) member is disruptive of dyadic
affection and intimacy,
while intriguing...is generally not
supported by this research. (p.294)


Hence, while continuing to research the crisis aspects of

first-time parenthood, investigators recognized the need for

a broader conceptual orientation for the study of new

parenthood. It was becoming apparent that Simmurel's

propositions describing the third member of the triad as a

disruptive intruder did not fully explain the dynamics of

family orientation. Indeed, it is even interesting to note





that three years prior to the publications of the first

parenthood-as-crisis research, Strodtbeck (1954) clearly

warned against the direct application of Simmel's theory to

the family unit.



Methodological Problems

Due to the extensive reliance on unstructured

interviews (Beauchamp, as cited in Jacoby, 1969; Le~asters,

1957) semi-structured interviews (Hobbs, 1968; Meyerowitz

and Feldman, 1966), and crisis questionnaires and checklists

(Dyer, 1963; Hobbs, 1965; 1968; Hobbs and Cole, 1976; Hobbs

and Vimbish, 1977; Russell, 1974; Uhlenberg, 1970), one may

easily conclude that measurement is one of the major

methodological problems inherent in parenthood-as-crisis

research series. With regard to the use of the interviewing

processes, both the internal and external validity of the

results obtained from these methods must be questioned.

Since the researchers do not detail what, if any, controls

were used in their interviewing methods, one can only assume

that such threats to validity as changes in the measuring

instrument (in this case the interviewer) or experimenter

expectations could be operating and biasing the responses

obtained in the interview. Likewise, one must question the

validity of the continued use of the HIobbs Crisis Index.

While persistent use of this checklist has verified its

reliability, no studies to date have tested the issue of its

validity.











A secondary problem related to the measuring

instruments is the lack of a standardized method for

reporting the "crisis scores," which the measuring devices

purport to estimate. The assignment of scale scores from

(1)=no crisis to (5)=severe crisis appears to have been

arbitrary, and it is quite possible that a different scoring

procedure could have resulted in a very different profile of

first-time parenthood. Furthermore, direct comparison

between the five crisis scale scores obtained from such

differing methods as interviews and checklists is not

acceptable, and the studies should have clarified this

problem for the reader.

Another serious methodological problem noted in the

crisis series research is the problem of sampling. In all

cases, the sampling procedures used have severely limited

the generalizability of the results obtained in the

parenthood-as-crisis research. The sampling methods used

have ranged from nonprobability samples of urban, middle-

class white couples (Beauchamp, as cited in Jacoby, 1969;

Dyer, 1963; Leivasters, 1957), to random samples of urban,

middle-class white couples (Hobbs, 1965) to random samples

of urban lower- to middle-class white couples (Hobbs, 1968;

Hobbs and Cole, 1976; Russell, 1974) to random samples of

urban, lower- to middle-class black couples (H~obbs and

Wimbish, 1977). Although the sampling designs did graduate

to random procedures, the limitations imposed by

environmental factors such as social class and urban

residency cannot be ignored.





In addition, most samples consisted of less than 50 couples,

with only two studies utilizing sample sizes greater than

200 couples (Mreyerowitz and Feldman, 1966; Russell, 1974).

Clearly, studies with larger and more representative samples

of the American population are necessary if significant

generalizations concerning the transition to parenthood are

to be recognized.

One final criticism of the methodology employed in

the crisis series research also affects the credibility of

the comparisons made between the studies. This criticism is

based on the wide variability of infant age at the time that

the data were collected. For example, in the Lebiasters'

(1957) study, the couple's first-born could range in age

from new born to five years old. Dyer, (1963) on the other

hand, limited his sample to couples with a first child born

within the previous two years. Other studies allowed the

child's age to range from 3-18 weeks (Hobbs, 1965), or from

approximately 6-52 weeks (Hobbs, 1968; H~obbs and Wimbish,

1977; Russell, 1974). Considering the effects that history

and maturation can have in studying the development of the

child, would it not be logical to assume that parents might

also go through dynamic changes in their behaviors and

attitudes toward the child's presence during this time

period? It appears that these changes would be inevitable,

and therefore could affect the parent's evaluation of first-

time parenthood as a crisis period.





29

In summary, the parenthood-as-crisis series may be

cateogorized as the first developmental phase of the

transition to parenthood research. While many conceptual

and methodological flaws in this series of research studies

have been discussed, the importance of these investigations

should not go unnoticed. First, this research spurred

others to investigate not only the effects that parental

behaviors can have on children, but also to study the

effects that the presence of children can have on adults'

lives. Second, these studies allowed researchers to

recognize the narrowness of the conceptual framework viewing

first-time parentnood as a crisis, and suggested that

broader orientations and better measuring devices be

employed in future studies. Finally, researchers conducting

these studies began to outline other variables of interest

occurring during the transition to parenthood period, such

as marital adjustment; couple communications; effects

related to educational, socioeconomic, and age levels; and a

couple's desire for children. Such factors as these became

major focal points of interest in other studies, as will be

seen throughout the remainder of this review.


Effect of the Transition to Parenthood
on Marital Satisfaction: Theory andi Research


The second approach to be explored in this review

of the transition to parenthood literature is known as the

marital satisfaction or family development research





orientation. Interestingly enough, while this approach is

not as well known as the crisis series, it appears that

investigators have asked the research questions attributed

to this orientation more frequently and consistently than

they have asked questions dealing with other aspects of the

transition period. More specifically, the questions focus

on how the transition to parenthood impacts upon marital

satisfaction, marital adjustment, marital happiness, and

marital stress. That these variables are chosen for study

is not too surprising since conjugal satisfaction/adjustment

is one of the most popular topics in the family life

literature (Atkinson and Gecas, 1978).

Before describing the studies of this series in

detail, one should note the evolution of this orientation

with respect to the crisis series studies in order to fully

understand its impact on future research. To begin, one

must remember that even as the crisis research was being

carried out there were criticisms abounding (Jacoby, 1969),

with much of the criticism centered on the use of the term

"crisis" in relation to the transition to parenthood

period. Even the adoption of the Rapoport's (1963)

terminology of the "normal crises" experienced by couples in

the honeymoon and engagement stages of marriage did not

resolve the debates. Rossi (1968) states the

dissatisfaction of researchers most clearly in the following

passage:





I think that the time is now ripe to drop the
concept of"normal crisis" and to speak directly,
instead, of the transition to and impact of
parenthood. There is an uncomfortable incongruity
in speaking of any crisis as normal... A more
fruitful point of departure is to build
upon the stage task concepts of Erikson, viewing
parenthood as a developmental stage,...
a perspective carried into the research
...on adaptation to early years of
marriage and .. on the adjustments involved in
pregnancy. (p. 28)


Hence, Rossi (196;8) began a trend for researchers to move

from their tunnel vision focus on the changes which might

constitute a crisis for first-time parents, to instead look

more broadly at the couple's reactions to those changes in

reference to a developmental stage perspective. No longer

was first-time parenthood to be viewed as a simple,

homogenous condition. Rather, as a developmental stage, new

parenthood could be viewed as a transitional, multi-faceted

position in the life cycle.

Naturally, this new perspective for examining first-

time parenthood required much discussion and theoretical

analysis before it could directly impact on the research.

In an attempt to address the concept of viewing the

transition to parenthood as a natural developmental stage in

a couple's life together, much of the theoretical discussion

became centered on role theory hypotheses. Rossi (1968)

outlined this theme in considerable detail, using two main

analytic devices: (1) a comparison of the structural ways

that the parental role differs from other primary adult





roles such as marital and occupational, and (2) a

specification of the phases of development of all social

roles. Her ideas encompassed an application of four broad

stages of a role cycle to parenthood, which included the

anticipatory stage, honeymoon stage, plateau stage, and

disengagement-termination stage. Rossi's (1968)

differentation of the parental role from other adult roles

can be illustrated by comparing the developmental tasks and

adjustments associated with each role during the

anticipatory stage. For example, tasks and adjustments

associated with the marital role included the engagement

period, planning for the wedding, and organizing small

aspects of the couple's future life together. The

anticipatory stage of the occupational role included tasks

such as finishing school, apprenticeships, and job seeking.

In comparison, however, the parental role during the

anticipatory stage encompassed the physical changes of

pregnancy and preparing for the infant's arrival both

physically and mentally.

As demonstrated, by using the role cycle suggestion

as a broader framework for viewing the various aspects of

the transition to parenthood, it also becomes easier to

delineate the unique and salient features of the parental

roles.

Recognition of these features requires that

attention be given to both past and current cultural

pressures for couples to assume the role of parent at some

time during their life together (Bottinelli, 1976; Bram,





1975; Mleade and Singh, 1973; Rabin, 1968; Riegel, 1974;

Rossi, 1968; Thompson, 1980; Thompson and Thom~pson, 1979;

Wheeler and Olds, 1979), to the criticalness that the timing

of a first pregnancy can have on an individual's or couple's

development (McLaughlin and Micklin, 1983; Rossi, 1968), to

the irrevocability of the parenthood status (Rossi, 1968),

and to the fact that there has been, in the past, a

significant lack of preparation for assumption of the

parenthood role in comparison to other adult roles (Resnick,

1981; Rossi, 1968). Furthermore, the role of parent must

fit into certain role requirements of the couple system to

provide a delicate balance between the interplay of sex

roles, instrumental versus expressive roles (Parsons and

Bales, 1955), and parent roles (Rossi, 1968). Deutscher

(1969) summarizes the importance of this delicate balance

succinctly when he states that "insufficient emphasis is

given to the interactive relationships between the wife and

husband and the changes that both undergo during the

pregnancy in relation to themselves, to one another, and to

the transformations of their roles as family members" (p.

319).

From the preceding discussion one may note that the

first attention given to the relationship between role

theory hypotheses and parenthood was quite broad. Looking

at the basic premise of role theory, however, helped

researchers to narrow their focus. In other words, using

the premise that role theory predicts changes in behavior as





a function of the social position a person fills suggested

that researchers could predict that a person's behavior

and/or expectations would change as a result of parenthood

(Hill and Rodgers, 1964; Feldman, 1971). Hence, a new

emphasis began to emerge that combined two aspects of first-

time parenthood: (1) that parenthood was a developmental

issue, and (2) that the marriage relationship would be

expected to change as a result of the role transitions

occurring in the developmental phase of parenthood. Since

the obvious gauges of the marital relationship, at the time,

were concerned with measurement of marital satisfaction,

studies from this new series of research merged a

developmental approach with marital satisfaction research

bringing forward the union known as the Marital

Satisfaction/Family Development Approach.



measuring Marital Satisfaction over the Family Life Cycle

With this new developmental slant for research the

transition to parenthood, studies began formulating new

hypotheses, utilizing newer measurements, and incorporating

larger sample sizes. All these improvements furthered the

knowledge of the effects that first-borns have on the couple

relationship.

Two studies, in particular, laid the foundation for

the marital satisfaction approach. These studies, published

by Rollins and Feldman (1970) and Feldman (1971), both based

their findings on data collected from an area survey sample









35

of 852 middle- to upper-class urban couples. The data were

obtained under a grant awarded to Feldman from NIMH for the

purpose of studying the development of the husband-wife

relationship through the family life cycle. Because they

used a cross-sectional design, these authors were able to

compare the effect that parenthood had on couples at

different phases of the family cycle ranging from the

beginning family to launching and empty nest families

(Duvall, 1967). Their findings, summarized by Feldman

(1971), included the following points:



a) Marital satisfaction follows a curvilinear

relationship through the family life cycle,

with couples showing higher levels of

satisfaction in the early and late years of

marriage. Low points were reached in the

middle of marriage when children were in

school.



b) Those couples with children hiad a significantly

lower level of marital satisfaction than did

those without chiildren.



c) Those couples with an infant had significantly

lower levels of marital satisfaction than did

those who were childless, even when the length

of the marriage relationship was a controlled

variable.





d) When couples become parents, marital

satisfaction declines. Thus decline can be

measured over time from pre to postpartum,

with postpartum couples being less

satisfied with marriage than they were before

the first child was born.



e) When an increase in marital satisfaction after

the birth of the first cnild was found, there

was a positive correlation noted between the

increase and the extent to which the couple had

a differentiated prepartum marriage

relationship. Those couples identified as

having a prepartum companionate relationship

generally showed a decrease in marital

satisfaction.



f) Improvement in marital satisfaction after th~e

birth of the first child was correlated with

viewing pregnancy as a negative experience due

to concerns over appearance, depression,

fatigue, and being uncomfortable.



g) Successive parenthood (multipara) appears to

increase the couples's marital dissatisfaction.





In conclusion, the Feldman studies (Feldman, 1971; Rollins

and Feldman, 1970) articulated that parenthood does indeed

have a pervasive influence on the marriage, an effect that

appears during pregnancy and continues until the children

leave the home. Furthermore, because changes in marital

satisfaction were empiricized throughout different phases of

the family cycle, Feldman (1971) offers support for role

theory over trait theory hypotheses.

Building upon Feldman's (1971) work, Robert Ryder

(1973) sought to improve the previous research by

investigating and comparing changes in marital satisfaction

for first-time parents with a control group of couples who

did not have children. Two variables were measured for each

spouse, one being a general score based on traditional

"marriage satisfaction" items from Locke and Wallace

(1959). Since this scale was scored in the negative

direction, Ryder referred to it as the Marriage

Dissatisfaction (MD) score. The other variable was also

obtained from questionnaire items, but referred only to one

specific complaint about marriage, that being whether or not

the respondent felt that their spouse paid enough attention

to them or was adequately loving. This variable was

measured by a 32-item scale which Ryder entitled the

Lovesickness (LS) 3cale. The results from Ryder's pretest

and posttest control group design were mixed. No clear

decline in marital satisfaction due to the birth of a child

was evidenced. In fact, the only significant correlate of





having a child was that the new mothers reported more

"lovesickness" (a feeling that their husbands did not pay

enough attention to them) after the birth of their baby.

While this effect, plus Feldmnan's results, supports

the consequences researched in the crisis series (Dyer,

1963; Hobbs, 1965, Le~lasters, 1957) it is important to note

that neither Ryder nor Feldman labeled the consequences as

crises. Instead, by looking at the results in terms of role

transitions, questions such as what type of marriage

relationship does the couple have, or how does the spouse

perceive the amount of attention and aid offered, began to

be asked. These types of questions remained open to

empirical investigation.

Obtaining research data that concurred with Ryder's

(1973) results, Miller and Sollie (1980) found that new

mothers were more likely than new fathers to view their

marriages as changing in a negative way after the birth of

their first child. In a longitudinal study designed to

measure personal well-being, personal stress, and marital

stress of couples at three points in time--at six months

pregnant, one month postpartum, and eight months postpartum -

these investigators pointed out that the sometimes

overwhelming demands of new parenthood usually result in

some degree of personal and marital stress. Furthermore,

this stress appears to build from the one month to eight

months postpartum period, suggesting some support for the

idea of a baby honeymoon (H~obbs, 1968). Despite these










findings, Miller and Sollie (1980) view these stresses as

"normal stresses" encountered as part of a developmental

event, and recommend that future attentions focus on the

stress via coping strategies such as redefining role

expectations and subsequent role renegotiations.

Both of the final two studies to be examined in the

marital satisfaction/family development research series

refined and built upon the ideas published by Ryder (1973)

and Miller and Sollie (1980). In a partial replication of

the Riyder Study, Waldron and Routh (1981) collected data

from 46 married couples at two points in time during the

wife's third trimester of pregnancy and then again six to

eight weeks after the baby's birth. Like Ryder, the Mrarital

Adjustment Scale (Locke and Wallace, 1959) was used to

obtain a measure of overall marital satisfaction as reported

by each spouse. However, to extend the Ryder study, W~aldron

and Routh also had couples complete the Bem Sex Role

Inventory (Bem, 1975; Bem, Martyna, and Watson, 1975). This

scale was added so that the investigators might determine if

a decrease in marital satisfaction would vary according to

the sex-role characteristics of the spouses. Essentially,

Ryder's (1973) results were again replicated in that wives'

ratings of their marital adjustment decreased significantly

after the birth of their first child while the husbands'

changes from pretest to posttest were nonsignificant.

Contrary to the researchers' expectations, there were no

significant correlations between any of the sex-role

characteristics and marital adjustment scores.





40

Lastly, extracting from the concept of the "normal

stresses" (M~iller and Sollie, 1930) of new parenthood,

Weinberg and Richardson (1981) designed a study to assess

thle dimensions of early parental stress, and to determine

differences in the importance of these dimensions to

individuals or couples who have diverse life circumstances

and characteristics. Four dimensions of stress were

identified during the development and analysis of the

researcher's questionnaire, including child versus self-

welfare, major versus minor child problems, restriction of

self and other adult activities, and immediate versus long-

range problem experiences. Of particular interest, however,

for the family development researchers are the different

weights of importance attributed to the dimensions according

to varying demographic characteristics. Specifically,

fathers were more stressed by major child problems than were

mothers, working mothers and parents with more than one

child gave greater weight to immediate rather than long

range problems, and restriction of self was of greater

concern to working parents than non-working parents.

Correlation of the dimension weights indicated that spouses

do not share any common perceptions of stress except on the

dimension of restriction of self and other adult

activities. Perhaps these results indicate the need for

further delineation of demographic characteristics

associated with the stress of parenthood transition.





Methodological and Conceptual Problems

While the studies falling into this theoretical

approach have improved and expanded upon the previous set of

research known as the crisis series, two criticisms of this

approach must be enumerated. The first criticism again

focuses on sampling procedures. While, on the whole,

sampling sizes increased in numbers, the majority of studies

still used only white, predominantly urban, middle-class to

upper-class couples as subjects (Feldman, 1971; Miller and

Sollie, 1980; Rollins and Feldman, 1970; Ryder, 1973;

Weinberg and Richardson, 1981; Waldron and Routh, 1981).

Generalizations to other sample populations must, therefore,

be reserved at this time. Random sampling procedures would

be beneficial to future research.

The second major criticism of this series of

studies is conceptual in nature. On initial inspection,

marital satisfaction measures appear to go beyond

individualistic approaches or evaluations, and into the

realm of couple issues, yet on closer inspection, this

series of studies collected data through questionnaires

tapping into the personal attitudes of husbands and wives,

and not into marital reactions to or patterns of

parenthood. Hence, while the theoretical importance of the

delicate balance of couple role transitions through the

phase of first-time parenthood gave impetus to better and

more complex research, the research lens remained out of

focus.











In summary, the marital satisfaction/family

development approach grew out of an abundance of criticism

to the parenthood-as-crisis concept. Seeking a broader

conceptual basis for investigation, researchers began

incorporating family development and role theory hypotheses

into their thinking which eventually merged into viewing

first-time parenthood as a developmental event in the

family, and more specifically in the marital, life cycle.

Using the notion that behavior, attitudes, or expectations

must change as new roles evolve led researchers to seek

measurement of change in the marital relationship as

evidence. While change in degree of marital satisfaction

has been illustrated for couples making the transition to

parenthood, a more critical review of the dimensions of this

change are necessary.



An Interactive Approach to the
Transition to Parenthood: A Life-Span Perspective


As illustrated, the first years of research on the

transition to parenthood were exploratory years. The

studies published were descriptive in nature, and therefore

focused on recording and detailing the quality of life after

the first birth. Emphasizing only this "status" or

"condition" has been the major drawback to the transition to

parenthood research carried out thus far. Perhaps these

studies, however, have been the necessary first steps taken

to bring the research into the 1980's. In retrospect, the

renaming of the crisis of first-time parenthood to the





transition to parenthood laid the foundation for the next

step, and that next step is to look at the process variables

of first-time parenthood. In other words, since the

previous set of descriptive studies have suggested that the

arrival of children can have a negative impact on the

marital relationship (a description of the condition), it is

now pertinent to look at what variables are involved in

creating this impact (what is the process). One must

remember, at this point, that the purpose of looking at

process variables implies more than merely reporting more

descriptive data. By attending to process variables, the

researcher should hope to create a model or framework of the

transition process. Hence, one may now see that this

decade's research problem can be the conceptualization of a

model of interactions as mediated by the birth of the first

child. This third and final research approach the

creation of a process-oriented or interactional model of the

transition to parenthood will now be examined for its

current position in the literature, as well as for its

promise for future research problems.

In outlining an interactional approach for studying

the transition to parenthood, it becomes evident that the

birth of a couple's first child is just one facet of a very

complex process "which involves changing identity, role

behaviors, and communication patterns among three

generations of a family" (Cowan, Cowan, Coie, and Coie,

1978). Discovering what these changes in role demands and





family interaction patterns are, and determining how these

changes occur, are the goals of the social interaction

research approach.

In order to recognize these goals, researchers must

make two basic decisions. First, they must decide what

questions need to be asked. Their second problem then

becomes choosing what variables can be operationalized to

best answer the questions. Once these decisions are

tackled, researchers are one step closer to this decade's

research problem of creating a model of interactions as

mediated by the birth of the first child.

Several researchers have begun to ask questions and

examine variables which could be used in creating an

interactional model of the transition to parenthood. In

general, the first questions posed were derived from two

distinctively different frameworks, each of which is based

on a life-span perspective. These two frameworks of the

life-span perspective are (1) the stage-theory approach, and

(2) the life-events approach. Before outlining questions

from each approach, it is pertinent to first describe the

basic assumptions of each of these conceptual frameworks.

The stage-theory approach. The stage-theory

approach has been applied to adulthood by theorists such as

Freud, Jung, Erikson, and Piaget. It has a long history and

is frequently used (8altes, 1979). More recently theorists

such as Gould (1978), Guttman, (1977), Levinson (1978), and

Loevinger (1976) have expanded its use.





45

The stage-theory approach has also been applied to

the family life cycle, with the stage boundaries being based

on such criteria as the age of the oldest child or the

duration of a marriage (Aldous, 1978; Duvall, 1977; GLick,

1977). Whatever criteria are chosen for the stage

boundaries, however, each separate stage represents a

"particular configuration of positions and roles"; [hence,l

"shifts from one stage to the next involve clear-cut,

definite changes in positions and roles within the family

structure" (Alpert, 1981, p. 25). Finally, it must be noted

that associated with each stage are certain developmental

tasks. In the transition to parenthood stage these tasks

would include major challenges such as the assumption of the

roles of mother or father, and the integration of these

newly acquired roles with older, yet still ongoing, marital,

sexual, and occupational roles.

Clearly, the developmental stage-theory approach to

the transition to parenthood has distinct advantages in that

it enables researchers to identify regularities and rhythms

of adult life during this phase. Furthermore, this approach

naturally emphasizes that there is some continuity in

development in relation to role patterns and age-graded

influences. Despite these advantages, definite drawbacks of

this approach have also been identified. Critics have

challenged the basic assumptions of the stage-theory

approach by arguing that family development does not

necessarily occur in an "orderly, unidirectional, and





irreversible sequence which is age-related and growth-

oriented" (Alpert, 1931, p. 26). Secondly, critics note the

inability of the stage-theory approach to account for non-

normative life events in the context of particular stages.

For example, the stage-theory approach would not encompass

the impact that the birth of a child with multiple defects

might have on a couple making the transition to parenthood.

Lastly, critics argue that the stage-theory approach ignores

differences in family histories, social contexts, coping

resources, and the impact that these differences may have on

family development.

The life-events approach. Critics of the stage-

theory approach to development usually conceptualize change

in adulthood from a life-events perspective (Dohrenwend,

1961; Looft, 1973; Reese and Overton, 1970). As a

"mechanistic metamodel", the life-events approach focuses on

antecedent-consequent relations rather than on "organic

structure" as in developmental stage models (Richardson,

1981, p. 16). The antecedents are the actual events

occurring in one's life, while the consequent responses are

one's reactions to the events whether adaptive or mal-

adaptive. Affecting this action-reaction relationship are

antecedent factors (or aspects of the event which could vary

the impact such as the timing or sequencing of the event)

and mediating factors (or the biological, psychological, and

contextual factors which may include hormonal, personality,

and economic factors respectively). In addition, this model





assumes change to be both continuous and relative, rather

than discontinuous and universal; hence, the meaning of a

particular life event must always be couched in the context

of other events occurring during one's life-span.

While proponents of the life-events approach tout

the flexibility and lack of assumptions this model has for

interpreting the complexity of adult development, two

disadvantages have been noted. First, while it is true that

the life events model can deal easily with non-normative

events, such as the birth of a handicapped child, its

emphasis on specific events does not lend itself toward

creating an understanding of the generalities of thie

developmental process. Second, the model easily lends

itself to a focus on stress and adaptation, but in doing so

may not permit the identification of other relevant

processes (Alpert, 1981; Richardson, 1981).

The questions. As previously stated, the questions

asked by social interactionists who are interested in the

transition to parenthood vary according to which school of

thought the researchers use as a frame of reference. Since

"change" is a concept expected and studied by both the stage-

theorists and the life-events theorists, it can be used to

illustrate some of the differences between the two

approaches.

In the stage-theory approach to parenthood, the

following questions might be asked:










a) How does the birth of a child affect the

marital relationship in terms of change in

affect, changes in role structure, or changes

in sexual interaction?



b) How does the couple reorganize from dyad to

triad, and what changes make this

reorganization stressful and/or successful?



c) How do attitude variables such as beliefs,

values, or social norms affect the transitions,

and do changes in these attitude variables

occur?



In the life-events approach, a different set of

questions regarding change would be asked. These questions

could include the following:



a) How does the timing of a pregnancy affect a

couple's ability to cope with the changes

required by a first birth in the family?



b) What are the differing effects that education,

SES, age, or ethnicity have on couples making

the transition to parenthood?





49

c) Hlow does a couple's social network affect their

development as a newly formed unit? Is the

network an added stress or does it provide

alternative coping resources?



These sets of questions illustrate the major

differences between the two approaches. First, the two

approaches differ with respect to the locus of change.

According to stage-theorists, the stimulus for change is

primarily internal and a function of the parental

experiences associated with this stage. Certain

developmental tasks involving learning and readjustments

with respect to marital, and other familial and occupational

commitments must be dealt with. In contrast, life-events

theorists view change as a differential response to

alterations in the environment due to the pregnancy/birth

event, as well as a myriad of other important factors such

as family ties, demographic factors, and individual/couple

resources.

In summary, both approaches to the study of the

transition to parenthood have advantages and disadvantages.

The stage-theory approach enables the researcher to outline

age-graded (ontogenetic) factors which will influence the

experience for the majority of first-time parents, while the

life-events approach ideally allows the researcher to review

history-graded evolutionall) influences and non-normative

effects (Alpert, 198L). It has been suggested by several





theorists (Hiill and Mattesich, 1979; Hultsch and Plemons,

1979; Levinson, 1980) that the two approaches can be

combined to create an integrated framework from which to

study the family life cycle. It is suggested that this

integrated framework can also be used to study the

transition to parenthood



The Life-Span Perspective: Developing a Framework

Within the past five years, the research being

published on the transition to parenthood has illustrated a

beginning blending of the stage-theory and life-events

approaches. Some of the emerging theories include



a) Bronfenbrenner's (1979) ecological theory of

human development in which persons function

within a complex set of micro-systems (e.g.,

family roles), which in turn interact with

other microsystems (e.g. society/cultural

roles);



b) Lerner and Spanier's (1973) emphasis on a

transactional model of development in which

the "dynamic-interactional child-family

interface" (p. 343) is studied in the context

of its interdependence with timae; and












c) La~ossa and Latiossa's (1981) social

interaction approach in which social patterns,

processes, roles, and sociohistorical linkages

are studied across time from~ pregnancy to post-

partum.



While these proposed theories are only three of

several emerging models for studying the development of

parenthood, they illustrate how the blending of the

previously used theories incorporates the study of role

perspective in which antecedent and mediating factors such

as timing, sex, education, social networks, and perceptions

can actively influence the transition process. Furthermore,

these theories all emphasize the factor of change across

time; hence, proponents of these theories view the

transition process from a life-span perspective (Baltes and

Schaie, 19373).



Role Accumulation Theory

When the word "career" is used, the majority of

people automatically think of their job situation where

they began and where they are going in their work setting.

The element of change (in job status) across time (as

experience is gained) is an expected part of the definition

of career in an occupational sense. Yet the word career, if

used more broadly, can also lend meaning to the transitions

occurring in all individuals' lives as they mature and

develop, or as their roles change across time.





52

Certain roles are self-evident. When an infant is

born the role of a child as son or daughter is instantly

assumed. Similarly assumed is the sex role as male or

female. With time, social roles such as leader or follower,

and occupational roles such as student or worker develop and

gain importance as the child matures into adulthood.

Finally, with adulthood, come the marital roles of husband

or wife, and possibly the parental roles of father or

mother. These roles from childhood to adulthood are the

major roles affecting most lives. Naturally there is a long

list of minor roles that individuals may also assume during

their life-span, but a look at only the major roles and

their sequence in life illustrates that individuals must

build on their roles rather than trade one role for

another. In other words, when children marry and become

parents, they cannot relinquish their roles as child of

their parents any more than they trade being the marital

partner of their spouse. Instead they add on new roles

while they maintain the old roles. What begins to be

apparent is that somehow the accumulation of these roles

must be managed.

Interactive Structures

For clarity, the interactive structures affecting

the parental role transition process are broken into three

major categories: (1) Couple Issues and other Affiliative

Relationships, (2) Current Social Conditions and other

Demographic Factors, and (3) Attitudes, Perceptions, and





Beliefs. The most recent research on the transition to

parenthood will now be reviewed under these categories.



Couple issues and other affiliative relationships.
Before children are born, most couples develop accepted

styles of relating to one another. The styles are based on

their expectations for the relationship, and have been

formed by either overt or covert negotiating. Styles of

communication, affection, and power are considered to be the

basic interactive structures inherent in couple

relationships (Aldous, 1978); therefore, couple issues will

be explored in the context of these styles.

The importance of open communication between

spouses experiencing the transition to parenthood is

stressed in almost all of the literature cited, yet

surprisingly only a few of the studies have incorporated a

couple's conramunication style as a variable of study in the

research. Two studies by Rausch and colleagues (1970, 1974)

focused directly on the couple's communication process in

the shift to parenthood. Findings included an increased use

of "I" words as marriages progressed from newlywed to

parenthood stages, and between prenatal and postnatal

research sessions changes included an increase in cognitive

communication styles (e.g., suggestions, rational

arguments), a decrease in rejecting responses, an increase

in coercive communication (e.g., guilt induction, power

plays) and a decrease in the use of appeals. Feldman (1974)





likewise noted an increase in what he termed "instrumental

conversation" after the birth of the first child, although

simultaneously noting an overall decline in the actual

amount of time that spouses spent talking to one another in

an average day. Furthermore, spouses reported an increased

inability to express their feelings to their mates during

the transition to parenthood period (Meyerowitz and Feldman,

1966).

Lanossa and LaRossa's (1981) sociological research

on the transition to parenthood emphasizes the

interdependence of the communication, affection, and power

structures of a couple's relationship. By conducting

conjoint interviews to collect their data, the Lattossa's

were able to focus on how a couple's communication style

affects the management of conflict and power issues.

Communciation styles included the use of appeals,

justifications, or excuses (Stokes and Hewitt, 1976). The

use of these types of verbal aligning actions during the

shift to parenthood are inherent in the negotiations

required by a couple as they assume new parental roles while

trying to maintain older roles, for they aid the couple in

clearing up misunderstandings and conflicts of interest

which undoubtedly occur when a new baby arrives on the

scene. Backett (1982) also notes how differences in

communication patterns affect the negotiation of parental

behavior in couples.





Further evidence of the interdependence of the

communication, affection, and power structures is also seen

in two studies published by Cowan, Cowan, Coie, and Coie

(1978) and Gladieux (1973) respectively. The Cowan et al

study states that communication is a central dimension of a

couple's relationship, and that both overt and covert

patterns of communication evolve so that a couple can

"exchange information, make decisions, share tasks, convey

feelings, solve problems, and resolve conflicts" (p. 299).

Gladieux (1978) similarly combines communication, affection,

and power, noting that satisfaction during pregnancy was

related more to a couple's "conveyance of affection, style

of communication, [and] patterns of dominance and

dependency" (p. 290) than to shared attitudes and opinions

on child bearing and parenthood.

While the interdependence of these three structures

is evident, somne interesting points concerned only with

affection and power issues should be discussed. For

example, in considering affection styles, or the

"coupleness" of the couple, it has been noted that marital

satisfaction is likely to increase for couples who displayed

more individuality or differentiation in their relationship,

while couples in companionate marriages have a more

difficult time with the transitional tasks required of new

parenthood (Feldman, 1974). More recently, researchers are

suggesting that transitional dysfunction based on the

couple's relationship style is more complicated than the





56

Feldman finding, and the disequilibrium could be influenced

by other life style factors such as division of labor issues

and characteristics of the new infant (Cowan, Cowan, Coie,

and Coie, 1978). That other factors are involved is

important to note since one research project noted that most

couples become more differentiated when they become parents

independent of their level of functioning (Entwisle and

Doering, 1981). As LaRossa and LaRossa (1931) note, "it

would seem that what is true in general would be true for

the transition to parenthood: families which strike a

balance between separateness and connectedness would best be

able to absorb a newborn child" (p. 149).

Closely aligned with measures of "coupleness" are

subjective measures of affection and fulfillment.

Gladieux's (1978) research on the pregnancy experience noted

that while physical dependency of the pregnant women to her

spouse increased, control and autonomy were maintained in

other areas allowing for a continuance of affective sharing

and mutual inclusion. Conversely, for women who saw the

increased dependency as a threat, ratings of couple

affection decreased. New parents, in general, however

showed no significant differences from either childless or

stable, full-house parents in affection-fullfillIment

measures (Menaghan, 1983).

Power issues are perhaps the most interesting of

all the couple issues explored thus far. Power, "the

ability to affect social life" (Olsen, 1963, p. 192), is one





of the most important variables in the marital system, for

the power structure is the control center of the

relationship. Two distinctions are worth noting with regard

to power. The first distinction is between legitimate and

illegitimate power (LaRossa and Lal~ossa, 1981). Legitimate

power, or authority, is used with the consent of those

controlled. Illegitimate power is used without their

consent. The second distinction is between orchestration

and implementation power:

spouses who have "orchestration" power have, in
fact, the power to make only the important and
infrequent decisions that do not infringe upon
their time but that determine the family lifestyle
and the major characteristics and features
of their family. They also have the power to
relegate unimportant and time-consuming decisions
to their spouses who can thus, derive a "feeling of
power" by implementing those decisions within the
limitations set by crucial and persuasive decisions
made by the powerful spouse.
(Safilios-Rothschild, 1976, p. 359)


From the above descriptions, one can see that the

allocation of power within a marriage involves two important

elements: (1) decision-making and (2) division of labor.

Using these two variables, researchers involved with

studying the transition to parenthood have noted that the

power structure of most marriages does change with the birth

of the first child (Blood and Wolfe, 1960; Cowan, Cowan,

Coie, and Coie, 1978; Hoffman, 1978; Hoffman and Manis,

1978; LaRossa, 1977; LaRossa and La~ossa, 1931; Mreyerowitz

and Feldman, 1966; Quarm, 1977). Typically, the change

involves the traditionalization of the marriage; that is,





58

marital patterns shift toward patriarchal relationships with

sex roles based upon "men's work" and women'ss work"

(LaRossa and LaRossa, 1981; Lamb, 1978).

The division of labor in a household is one area

researchers have examined in their study of the transition

to parenthood. Usually subjects are asked to indicate who

completes each of several household tasks which are outlined

on a list (Blood, and Volfe, 1960), or subjects are asked to

respond to questions regarding whether their spouses help

with housework and how often this help is offered (Hoffman,

197;3; Hioffman and Mianis, 1978). The findings from these

studies indicate the the first child has a dramatic effect

on the division of labor in a household, with mothers

reporting less help fromn their husbands than non-mothers

(Hoffman, 1978; Hoffman and Mtanis, 1978). Furthermore, this

effect was found even when the mother returned to full-time

work; hence the inequities were sustained despite the wife's

employment status (Berk and Berk, 1979; Hoffman, 1978,

Hoffman and M(anis, 1978). La~ossa and LaRossa (198L) citing

drawbacks in the tendency for family researchers to again

study only outcomes rather than processes, look at the

division of labor as a power issue that is "interactive,

emergent, and processual" (p. 98). Their research attempts

to explain why new parents tend to drift toward a

traditional division of labor by examining equity versus

equality within the context of time and the value of time.

The LaRossas (198L) contend that new parents do not seek





task equality in their negotiations over baby care, rather

they seek equity or a fair arrangement which allows both

husband and wife the time to pursue opportunities outside of

childcare. Furthermore, it is contended that several

factors may create the trend toward the traditional gender

roles. These factors may include the physiological

(hormonal) forces at work from pregnancy (Rossi, 1977),

internalized sex roles fromn childhood socialization, and

cultural expectations. The LaRossa's (198L1) suggest that

the transitional period, wherein these factors come to play,

is a critical time in which couples initiate systemic levels

of changes in their marriage toward traditionalization in

order to cope with the pressures of new parenthood and their

new scarcity of time. It is interesting to note, at this

point, that an operationalization of the "equity" concept

found no significant differences in measurements obtained

from new parents versus childless couples (Mvenaghan, 1983).

Decision-making is the second major variable used

to study power allocation in a marriage. Complementary to

the division of labor issue, research indicates that the

wife's decision-making role decreases with the birth of the

first child and decreases more with second and third

children (H~offman, 1977). In general, this result has been

determined by asking each member of a couple questions

concerning who is in charge, or who makes most of the

decisions for the household. Seeking to go further than

reliance on outcomes, both floffman (1978) and LaRossa (1977)





noted that factors such as the mother's loss of employment

and her subsequent financial loss served to decrease her

power in decision-making, especially in areas regarding

financial purchases or entertainment costs. Menaghan (1983)

also suggests that wives' leaving of employment may be

associated with declining equity.

To complete the literature survey dealing with

couple issues, it is pertinent to view the couple in a large

social context which includes family and friends.

Researchers interested in what happens to a couple's

affiliative relationships when a first child is born have

found the following results:



a) The first child tends to move the husband and

wife into separate friendship spheres; that is,

the women have their friends while the men have

theirs (H~offman, 1978; H~offman and Mlanis, 1978),



b) First-time parenthood increases the contact that

couples have with their own parents (Hill, 1970;

Hoffmnan and Mlanis, 1978; Lamb, 1978),



c) Supportive networks of family and friends who

are themselves parents become increasingly

important (Gladieux, 1978), and





61

d) Women with modern sex role conceptions had more

distant family connections, fewer friends, and

higher dissatisfaction with entire pregnancy

experience (Gladieux, 1978).



In conclusion, it appears that the relationship

changes which occur will have an impact on the system in a

three-generational perspective (Cowan, Cowan, Coie, and

Coie, 1978), for just as the couple's changing patterns of

friendships and extended family relationships force them to

adopt new roles and identities, so will their own parents be

taking on new roles as grandparents. Certainly these

changes will create new patterns of communication,

affection, and power between the new parents, the

grandparents, and the baby.

Current social conditions and demographics.



Fact #1: Today over 40% of marriages end

in divorce (Entwisle and Doering, 1981).



Fact #2: Within the past 15 years millions of

women entered into paid employment (Fein,

1978)





Fact #3: In recent years, American courts have

made decisions which impact upon the

changing equality between men and women

(Fein, 1978).



These facts illustrate the rapidly changing

environment into which couples marry and enter into

parenthood. Yet despite the uncertainties of this era,

contemporary couples still value the family (Douvan, 1979)

and claim emotional benefits as the primary reason for

having children (Fawcett, 1978). Surprisingly, the birth

experience has only recently obtained the interest of social

scientists, but today it hias become clearer that the

research on emergent families can also mirror important, if

rapid, changes in society such as women'ss reduced

fertility, women's increased labor-force participation, the

blurring of sex roles, and the increased salience of the

quality of life as a goal in itself" (Entwisle and Doering,

1981, p. 235).

Mdany of the changes mirrored by the birth

experience can be seen by examining the current demographic

statistics collected on today's first-time parents. Of

particular interest are the variables of age, education, and

employment status. Other related social class factors will

also be discussed. Most data reported on these variables

will be drawn from Hoffman's (1978) national survey data

collected for the Value of Children (VOC) project. In this





63

survey, 11,569 women and a 45% sample of their husbands were

interviewed to obtain data regarding the impact of the first

birth on women's roles and the marital relationship. Other

research will be reported, as available, on each variable of

interest.

Age, education, and employment status. On any

given day, an observer can easily note that the number of

pregnant women out and about appears to be increasing. The

baby boomers of the 1950s are beginning their own families.

What is interesting to observe, however, is that these women

and their spouses are not necessarily in their early

twenties, but rather look thirtyish. This trend has been

noted in the news, but research has also documented a

pattern of women marrying later, having their first child

later, and pursuing more education (Hoffman, 1978). The

interconnectedness of age, education, and employment status

is also illustrated in other research. For example, much

evidence has been accumulated to show that employment rates

for women decrease with the birth of the first child

(H~offman and Nye, 1974). Similarly, education is often

curtailed by the advent of children in a family, although

there has been reported a small gain in the percentage of

mothers who return to school (Hoffman, 1978). Age, however,

appears to be a strong mediating variable in the

generalizability of these results. The importance of age is

seen in McLaughlin and Micklin's (1983) findings that the

younger the woman at the time of her first birth, the less





the education she will obtain regardless of social class.

Conversely, Hoffmnan (1978) states that "the more highly

educated women marry later and have their first child later"

(p. 349). That age and education affect employment and

commitment to employment both before and after the first

birth has also been noted (Hoffman, 1978). Specifically,

the higher the level of education and the higher the

occupational position of the wife, the greater the woman's

commiritment to continue paid employment (Hloffman, 1978).

The importance of the wife's employment status is

further emphasized by Lanossa and LaRossa (198L) who claim

that their data suggest that this variable is more important

in qualifying the relationship between parenthood and family

interactions than either age or length of years married.

Other related social class factors. Although

education and employment status as related to age are the

strongest indicators of social class (Mlenaghan, 1983)

available in the transition to parenthood studies, today's

availability of conception control methods is a trend worth

exploring. That couples can now decide when to begin their

families may have far-reaching ramifications in terms of

marital satisfaction (Christenson, 1968) and integration of

the child into the family unit (Mliller, 1978). In earlier

decades, there was also a strong association between

socioeconomic status and conception control (Entwisle and

Doering, 1981); however, this is an association which may be

changing. In a recent longitudinal study using equal





numbers of lower- and middle-class respondents, no

significant differences in conception control were noted in

that almost all of the pregnancies were planned (Entwisle

and Doering, 1981).

Using social class stratification as a basic

parameter of their research design, Entwisle and Doering

(1981) noted some other interesting results. First, the

average behavior of new parents was approximately the same

regardless of social class. Just as many lower-class as

middle-class fathers were present during delivery, and just

as many lower as middle-class women chose to breastfeed

their infants. Second, on all measures of parental

responsiveness, the two classes were equivalent. Both lower-

and middle-class fathers were equally involved emotionally

with their children. Third, social class differences were

noted only with respect to parenting models. For example,

in middle-class couples, previous baby care experience had a

positive effect on parenting, and babies were not viewed as

"mother's property." Yet in lower-class couples, previous

baby experience was negatively related to the amount of

parenting contributed by the father. In both classes,

however, the majority of infant care was assumed by the

mother.

To complete the discussion of the effect of current

social conditions and demographic variables on the

transition to parenthood, it is fair to note that if new

parents seem to have a difficult time emb~racing their new





66

roles, it may be due to a lack of guidance and/or models on

how to play the modern parent role. Men and women today are

finding themselves in the midst of changing sex role

conceptions--changes which have both benefits and costs

(Gladieux, 1978). Yet concurrent with these ideological

changes has been the gradual disappearance of the extended

family. This loss of support forces husbands and wives to

seek each other out for support and help during the first

few weeks of new parenthood; hence, Fein (1978) suggests

that research on parenting needs to focus more on the couple

perspective of postnatal infant care, rather than just on

the mother's perspective.

Attitudes, perceptions, and beliefs. The final

interactive structure influencing the success with which

couples make the transition to parenthood involves

measurements of attitudes, perceptions, and beliefs about

their new roles. These factors, while difficult to define,

are very important mediating variables, for they determine

the psychological environment of the emerging family system.

As would be expected, the many changes in lifestyle

that accompany new parenthood also bring on changes in

attitudes, perceptions, and beliefs. Interestingly,

however, the changes appear to be idiosyncratic rather than

systematic. For example, H~offman's (1978) data comparing

first-time mothers with childless women illustrated that new

mothers' attitudes shifted toward traditional marital





patterns. They also perceived an increase in marital

closeness due to their new shared tasks of rearing a child.

Lastly, in contrast to childless women, new mothers

expressed the belief that the first child establishes

adulthood. Childless spouses did not express these

attitudes, perceptions, or beliefs regarding parenthood.

The contradictions in these evaluations by first-time

parents become evident when one considers other data

reported. To summarize, previously it was noted that the

first child dichotimizes men's and women's roles, brings

about a loss of financial income generally due to the wife's

loss of employment, separates the friendship spheres of the

husband and wife, and tends to decrease the amount of time

the husband devotes to household tasks (Hoffman and Manis,

1978). And yet, couples perceive children as bringing them

closer together. Furthermore, the first child as an

establisher of adulthood, increases the couple's

responsibilities, restricts their freedom, and adds worries.

Yet the new families do not evaluate this negatively.

Rather they see children as bringing them satisfaction and

fulfillment (Hoffman and Manis, 1978).

Cowan, Cowan, Coie, and Coie (1978) also noted

changes in perceptions and beliefs in measurements taken

during mid-pregnancy and again at six months postpartum.

The data indicated that the transition period witnessed an

increasing discrepancy between partners in their perception

of mutual roles. During mid-pregnancy, there was a general

agreement on task allocation and time allotment; however, at





68

postpartum, mothers perceived their share of baby care tasks

to be greater than the husband perceived, while fathers

perceived that they gave more time than the wives rated them

as giving. In general, women perceived more changes in time

than did the men, which seemed to be a significant source of

conflict. Beliefs about parenthood and childcare also

shifted toward more traditional ideas in the Cowan et al.

(1978) study. Comparing the pregnancy and postpartum

responses showed the new parents developing a more

sympathetic identification with their own parents as they

assumed parental roles themselves.

Similarly, discrepancies in perceptions on male and

female parenting roles were noted in data derived from

unmarried individuals (McIntire, Nass, and Battistone,

1974). The direction of the misperceptions was for the

women to attribute less interest and involvement in early

parenting tasks to their male peers than was expressed by

the men themselves. This result, coupled with the previous

studies reviewed, indicates that women may be placing

themselves in a double-bind, for they may be cutting off a

significant source for assistance when they incorrectly

perceive males as wanting or needing the woman to become the

traditional homemaker. Again, this situation may be due to

a lackr of modern role models. Nevertheless, perceptions of

one's marital and parental roles are so important that one

theory of marital satisfaction (Rollins and Galligan, 1978)

is based upon the interplay between (L) the perceived





quality of role enactments by self and spouse, (2) the

perceived consensus of role expectations, and (3) the

perceived relative deprivation due to role enactment.

According to this theory, the transition to parenthood

creates discrepancies in these perceptions due to new role

accumulation and role strain.

To complete this section, it is pertinent to

explore whether or not parenthood education services can

make a difference in attitudes, perceptions, or beliefs.

The need for research in this area has been documented

(Resnick, 1981), but program effectiveness data are scarce.

In the few studies researching childbirth preparation

influences, it has been reported that childbirth classes

have improved the mother's birth experience by increasing

her positive emotions toward the birth itself (Enkin, Smith,

Dermer, and Emmett, 1972; Huttel, Mitchell, Fischer, and

Mteyer, 1972) as well as allowing the woman to have more

positive responses to her child immediately following birth

(Entwisle and Doering, 1981). Childbirth preparation also

led men to fuller participation in the birth, and in some

middle-class men, preparation had direct positive effects on

fathering apart from the birth experience (Entwisle and

Doering, 1981). Lastly, although preparation classes did

not appear to foster integration of parental roles in the

Entwisle and Doering (1981) project, it did appear to affect

the social integration of the child into the family system.

These reports call into question research indicating that





attendance at preparation classes does not help in the

transition to parenthood (Parke and O'Leary, 1975; Wente and

Crockenberg, 1976); however, these discrepancies may

indicate the lack of most parenthood programs to deal with

both prenatal and postnatal needs and adjustments.

In conclusion, it appears that preparation classes

provide prospective parents with active control measures

which allow them to handle the stress of birth. Perhaps

further preparation allowing for active control of the

stresses encountered during the first year of new parenthood

could also reduce the stresses that couples encounter as

they make new role transitions during this period.



Two Approaches to Creating a Life-Span Framework

With the completion of the literature review on the

transition to parenthood, it is now necessary to describe

two approaches which have been used to create life-span

models of this critical period in adult development. These

two approaches include (L) the use of descriptive interviews

from a sociological point of view (Entwisle and Doering,

1981; La~ossa and LaRossa, 1981), and (2) the use of

experimental designs for data analysis and instrument

development (;denaghan, 1983; Steffensmeier, 1983). In each

of the approaches both stage-theory ideas (role transitions)

and life-events factors (social conditions, demographics,

perceptions) are incorporated so that the transition period

is understood as a process and not just as an outcome.





The first approach, the use of descriptive

interviews, was used by two sets of researchers whose

results have been emphasized within the context of the

interactive structures (Entwisle and Doering, 1981; La~ossa

and La~ossa, 1981). Briefly, their main source for data

collection was through the use of scheduled interviews which

were taped and later transcribed. In both research projects

a short-term longitudinal design was employed so that

couples were interviewed several times during the transition

period. The LaRossa's (1931) interviewed on a postpartum

schedule only, while Entwisle and Doering (1981) included

both prenatal and postpartum interviews in their design.

Entwisle and Doering (198L) also utilized a number of

questions from well-known scales or tests, with all

questions firmly embedded in the interview format.

The second approach, the use of experimental

designs, has been used by Menaghan (1983) and Steffensmeier

(1982). Menaghan's study was designed as a panel analysis

of many family transitions, including the transition to

parenthood. In her research on the impact that parental

roles have on marriage, she measured variables of equity,

affection-fulfillment, coping adequacy, non-family

commitments, gender, family size, education, and income

level. In short, Menaghan found little support for the

hypothesis that transitions produce significant variations

in the marital experience as measured by equity and

affection-fulfillment.





Steffensmeier's (1982) study focused on the

development of a 25-item instrument measuring three

dimensions of the transition to parenthood. The dimensions

were labeled Parental Responsibilities and Restrictions

(PRR), Parental Gratifications (PG), and Marital Intimacy

and Stability (MIS). The independent variables used to tap

into these dimensions included the operationalization of

anticipatory socialization, role clarity, perceived role

conflict, sex, and educational level. One interesting

result showed that females had a higher level of

anticipatory socialization and role clarity than males, and

that higher-educated persons had a lower level of role

clarity than their lesser-educated counterparts.

Furthermore, role clarity had a significant positive direct

effect on the measure of Marital Intimacy and Stability.



Methodological Problems of the Social Interaction Research

While there is no doubt that the recent research

published in this interest area is more sophisticated than

previous research focused on the transition to parenthood,

the social interaction research still suffers from some of

the same methodological problems encountered in the "crisis"

and "marital satisfaction" studies. Sampling has, in

general, focused only on white middle-class couples

expecting the birth of their first child. Furthermore,

except for the Hoffman (1978) study and the Menaghan (1983)

research, sample size has remained small (under 100





couples); hence, generalizations outside of the stated

populations should be avoided.

Secondly, while the amount and content of the data

collected has increased and become more complex, it has

remained descriptive. As noted, much of the research in

this area has been generated through interviews which can

always threaten the validity of the research. Fortunately,

the LaRossa's (198L) and Entwisle and Doering (1981)

concerned themselves with issues of validity prior to

conducting the interviews. Interviewers were trained and

the interviews were planned and structured to reduce

experimenter bias.

Lastly, attempts to operationalize the transitional

effects of parenthood on the marital relationship have been

elusive ('denaghan, 1983; Steffensmeier, 1932); hence, it

appears necessary to re-evalutate the basic question

concerned with how parental transition difficulties alter

the marital experience. While common sense dictates some

linkage between the advent of children and marital

stability, tracing the process has remained inconclusive.

Perhaps the time spans measured in the research have not

been long enough to register the changes, or perhaps the

wrong questions are being asked about the couple

relationship. Further research will be essential to begin

solving these dilemnas.





A Final Summary on the
Transition to Parenthoodd Research


The literature review presented spans a 30-year

period of research on the transition to parenthood.

Dueginning with the parenthood-as-crisis series, the review

focused on the theory and research relating the birth of the

first child to adjustment problems. Building upon this

area, marital satisfaction studies expanded this research to

include global measures of marital adjustment with more

specific adjustments related to the advent of the first

child. This series of parenthood research introduced the

concept of new parenthood as a normal role transition of

adult life. Lastly, literature related to the interactions

of parental roles with other important life factors was

reviewed in the social interaction approach to the

transition to parenthood. This final phase of research has

begun to investigate how parents integrate their new roles

with other ongoing life roles such as employment, marriage,

education, home maintenance, and social activity. In other

words, the transition to parenthood is beginning to be

viewed within a larger and continually changing social

context. This new context focuses today's research on the

creation of a framneworkc for studying this important

developmental stage of adult life.





CHAPTER III

MdETHiODOLOGY



This research project was designed to be a

descriptive ex post facto investigation of factors involved

in adult development during one stage of the family life

cycle; that stage being the transition to parenthood

following the birth of a couple's first child. The factors

explored were systematically investigated under four major

social dimensions known as occupational, marital, parental

and home maintenance (domestic) life roles. Interactions

among these roles were examined for differences and/or

similarities in the context of the wife's employment

status. Assessment was based on couples' answers to both

questionnaire and scale items posed in each of the four

social dimensions mentioned above.

The remainder of this chapter is devoted to

detailing the methods and procedures used in this study.

Information is presented on the (1) population and sample,

(2) procedures, (3) instrumentation, (4) research

hypotheses, (5) data analysis procedures, and (6)

methodological limitations.





Population and Sample

Subjects in this study were obtained from the

population of first-timne parents in the city of Alexandria,

the city of Arlington, and the county of Fairfax, Virginia.

Subjects consisted of 150 white, middle-class married

couples between the ages of 20 and 35 whose first child had

reached an age of six to nine months. Hence a total of 300

subjects (150 husbands and 150 wives) were used in this

research. Subjects were equally divided into three groups:

(1) 50 couples where the wife remained at home as a full-

time homemaker, (2) 50 couples where the wife returned to

work part-time following the birth of the child, and (3) 50

couples where the wife returned to full-time employment

following the child's birth. In each group, wives had

maintained full employment prior to the child's birth, and

in each group the spouses' combined total income yielded a

minimum of $20,000. The upper range of income included

couples making $50,000 a year. Only couples delivering a

normal, single infant were asked to participate in the

study. A normal infant was defined as appropriate for

gestation age with no deformities, perinatal illness, birth

injuries, or extended hospital stay.



Procedures

Sample Selection Procedures

Couples for this study were recruited from the

population of first-time parents in the metropolitan

Northern Virginia area. To obtain participants, the





77

principal investigator first contacted the administration of

the three major hospitals in this area the Alexandria

Hospital, the Arlington Hospital, and the Fairfax H~ospital -

to obtain a listing of potential subjects who delivered

during December, 1984, through March, 1985. These delivery

dates were chosen to insure that the couples' infants had

reached an age of six months whereby most wives would have

made a decision regarding a postpartum return to work

outside of the home. This request for information from the

hospitals was unfortunately denied due to the hospitals'

policies of patient privacy and restriction of records. As

a back-up procedure, the researcher then contacted the

Virginia Department of Health-Vital Records Division to

request a listing of births recorded in the Northern

Virginia area during the prescribed time period. This

request for public birth records was also denied due to

issues of privacy of information.

The procedure which proved successful for recruiting

first-time parents was through listings of public birth

announcements printed in local Northern Virginia

newspapers. Copies of these listings were obtained by

searching through back issues of the newspapers on file at

local libraries. Papers used included the Alexandria

Journal, the Alexandria Gazette, and the Fairfax Journal.

These papers announced births occurring at all three of the

major hospitals originally contacted for information. Over

500 names were recruited from these listings.





A second procedure used to obtain subjects was

through contact with the A~lexandria Lake Ridge Pediatric

Center. This center is a group practice of three

pediatricians with two offices to serve Northern Virginia

families. The practice offered to help this researcher

contact subjects by first talking to potential subjects with

first-borns, and then providing the investigator with names

and numbers of couples willing to participate. Only five of

the research couples were obtained from this procedure. The

remainder of the sample was obtained through the printed

birth announcements.

From the listing of potential participants, only

couples who delivered from December, 1984, through March,

1985, were considered for contact. Each couple in this

sample was then called by the principal investigator during

the months of July and August, 1985, to request

participation in the study. A brief description of the

study's purpose, subject selection requirements, time

commitment requested of participants, and questionnaire

return procedures were outlined for the potential subjects.

Bo0th partners were required to agree to participate in the

study for inclusion in the research project. For couples

who asked for extra time to make a decision, the

investigator arranged to make a follow-up call at a pre-

arranged time.





79

Couples agreeing to participate were assigned to one

of three employment groups based upon information provided

regarding the wife's occupational status. The investigator

continued to make calls from the potential subject listing

until each group contained a minimum of 50 couples. A total

of 150 couples was, therefore, recruited for the overall

study with 50 participating couples in each of the three

employment classification groups.



Data Collection Procedures

Once verbal consent to participate was obtained by

couples meeting the eligibility requirements for subject

selection, the researcher mailed a questionnaire package to

the couple which included two envelopes coded for husbands

and wives. Each envelope contained a consent form and a

copy of the questionnaire with instructions. The envelopes

were self-addressed to the researcher and were pre-posted so

that once completed the subjects could drop the

questionnaires in the mail. Two to four weeks following

distribution of the questionnaire, follow-up phone calls

were used to contact nonrespondents. A third phone call was

made if the second contact did not elicit a response. Only

those questionnaires completed in entirety were used in the

research analysis. Completion of the questionnaire took

respondents approximately 20-45 minutes. This time estimate





was derived by administering the questionnaire to a small

sample of couples with infants in order to receive feedback

on the questionnaire format, prior to its distribution for

research purposes.



Instrumentation

For this project, all instruments and descriptive

questions were formatted in one questionnaire booklet

divided into five sections. These sections included

background information, occupational information, marital

information, family information, and personal information

(see Appendix C). The personal information section of the

questionnaire included statements designed to tap into

parental, marital, occupational, and home maintenance or

domestic life role experiences. This questionnaire was

professionally printed using recommendations described by

Dillman (1978) in order to insure maximum response rate from

the research subjects. Along with the descriptive questions

to be reviewed in this section, the following instruments

were utilized: The Marital Satisfaction Scale (R~oach,

Frazier, and Bowden, 1981), the H~obbs Crisis Index (Hobbs,

1965), the Gratification Checklist (Russell, 1974), and the

Life Role Salience Scales (Amatea, Cross, Clark, and Bobby,

1986). Descriptive questionnaire items are surveyed first.

Following will be a review of the other instruments.








































































I


Background Information Questions

These questions were designed to obtain information

regarding sex, age, race, marital status, educational level,

and socioeconomic status of participating subjects. This

case material was requested to insure that subjects'

responses could be used in this research, as well as to

provide information deemed to be important in further data

analyses.



Occupational Information Questions

These questions were designed to obtain information

on the occupational status of both the husbands and wives

involved in the study. This information was used to

determine in which of the three employment classification

groups the subjects' responses belong. Also, this

information insured that the wives were employed prior to

the first child's birth



Idarital Information Questions

These questions specified the current marital status

of the couples and the length of the present marital

relationship. To determine if the birth of the first child

had affected the marital satisfaction of either spouse, two

questions were included in this section asking subjects to

rate the relationship before and after the birth. These two

rating scales were adapted from the Satisfaction Change






































































I _


Scale (Schlein, Guerney, and Stover, 1971 see Guerney,

1977). Internal reliability tests have not been deemed

appropriate for such a simple measure since the retesting

interval would need to be so brief; however, evidence of

concurrent validlity has been shown through correlating this

scale with the Relationship Change Scale in a study using 96

subjects (Schlein, 1971). The correlation ranged from .43

to .49, p.< .001).



Family Information Questions

Questions regarding family size and family planning

were posed in the first part of this section of the

questionnaire. Also included were two questions requesting

subjects to ascribe percentage of time devoted "ideally" and

"in reality" to childcare activities. These questions were

designed to probe discrepancies in spouses' perceptions of

their beliefs about the traditional division of sex roles

involved in childcare management.



Marital Satisfaction Scale (MiSS)

The Marital Satisfaction Scale (MSS) is a 48-item

Likert-type attitudinal scale developed for the purpose of

assessing marital satisfaction at any given point in time.

Originally entitled the M~arital Satisfaction Inventory

(Snyder, 1979), the 73-item instrument was administered to a

total of 369 subjects. Items had very high discrimination,

and the instrument proved to be of sufficient reliability





and of high internal consistency. The coefficient of

stability was .76 (Frazier, 1976). Concurrent validity of

the instrument was determined at .79 (Bowden, 1977) when the

instrument was compared to the Marital Adjustment Test

(Locke and Wallace, 1959). A discriminant validity

coefficient of -.73 (Bowden, 1977) was obtained by

correlating scores with the Marriage Problem Checklist

(Roach, as cited in Bowden, 1977). Development of the

shorter form known as the MSS has been based on this

previous research. Coefficients of correlation for each

item on the shorter form with the whole scale scores of the

original scale range from .51 to .82 (Roach, Frazier, and

Bowden, 1981). Currently, research on an even briefer form

is underway.

The MSS is scored by subjects' responses to each

item in the following format: strongly agree, agree, neutral

(undecided), disagree, strongly disagree. Items are phrased

positively (favorably toward marriage) and negatively

(unfavorably toward marriage) in approximately equal

proportions. Scoring on each item ranges from one to five,

with five indicating the most favorable attitude toward

one's own marriage, and one the least favorable attitude.



Hobbs Crisis Index (HCI)

This instrument was devised in 1965 to measure the

extent of crisis associated with the advent of the first

child. The 23 items constructed for this objectively scored

checklist were selected from Le~asters' (1957) study of






































































I _


difficulties which new parents reported. Original

assessment included three-degrees of "bothersomeness" (none,

somewhat, very much) for each item. Weights were assigned

so that an individual could score from 0 (no crisis) through

46 (severe crisis). The first use of the index relied on

face validity; however, replication studies have suggested

criterion-related validity based on correlations between

checklist scores and marital adjustment (Hobbs and Cole,

1976). Reliability has also been based on replication

studies yielding nearly identical results to the original

study's use of the index (B~eauchamp as cited in Jacoby,

1969; Hobbs, 1968; Hobbs and Cole, 1976; Russell, 1974;

Uhlenberg, 1970). For use in this research study, one

adaptation of the scale was made. A three degree spread of

measurement does not allow for variation in subjects'

responses, so this study has expanded the scale to five

degrees of "bothersomeness" ranging from not at all to

rarely, sometimes, often, and all the time.



Russell G~ratification Checklist (RGC)

This instrument was fashioned after the Hobbs Crisis

Index to determine what things new parents enjoyed about

their newly acquired roles (Russell, 1074). The resulting

12-item checklist is limited to face validity which is a

troublesome problem. The reliability computed by the split-

half method was .93. As with the Crisis Index, this

research has expanded the response options from three to

five possible categories.





Life RoleSalience Scales (LRSS)

This instrument is currently being developed for use

in research on the occupational, marital, parental, and

domestic (home maintenance) role expectations of men and

women of varying ages and life stages. Based on a two-part

model, this 48-item instrument assesses the reward value and

the style of participation for each of the four life role

expectations mentioned above. Eight separate scores are

available: (1) the parental role reward value scale (PRV),

(2) the parental role participation scale (PRP), (3) the

marital role reward value scale (MRIV), (4) the marital role

participation scale (MRP), (5) the occupational role reward

value scale (ORV), (6) the occupational role participation

scale (ORP), (7) the home maintenance role reward value

scale (HRV), and (8) the home maintenance role participation

scale (HRP). Six items are used, some of which are reverse

scored, to assess each of these eight dimensions.

Scoring of the LRSS can be done by machine or by

hand. Eight separate scores are derived; there is no total

score for the instrument. Score values for each item range

from one to five. There are six items in each scale; hence,

creating a range of scores from 6 to 30 for each scale.

Items which are reverse scored must be noted so that if a

respondent gave a "2" to the item, the score value assigned

would be a "4".





86

As the LRSS was still in a developmental stage, norm

tables for sex, age, and life stage were not currently

available. Construct validity data were available only on

college men and women (Amatea, Cross, Clark, and Bobby,

1986; Clark, 1985) and on career women aged 28-70 (Amatea,

Cross, Clark, and Bobby, 1986). Scale reliabilities for

each of the eight scales range from .72 to .85.



Research Hypotheses

Based on the format of the given questionnaire, the

following hypotheses, written in the null form, were tested

in this study:



Marital Satisfaction Scale (MSS)

1. There are no significant differences in marital

satisfaction as measured by scores obtained on the MSS among

new mothers working full-time, new mothers working part-

time, or new mothers who are unemployed.

2. There are no significant differences in marital

satisfaction as measured by scores obtained on the MSS among

new fathers whose wives work full-timne, part-time, or are

unemployed.

3. There are no significant differences in marital

satisfaction as measured by scores obtained on the MSS

between new mothers and fathers in couples where the wife

works full-time.





87

4. There are no significant differences in marital

satisfaction as measured by scores obtained on the M5S

between new mothers and fathers in couples where the wife

works part-time.

5. There are no significant differences in marital

satisfaction as measured by scores obtained on the MSS

between new mothers and fathers in couples where the wife is

unemployed.



Hobbs Crisis Index (HCI)

1. There are no significant differences in the

perceived level of crisis as measured by scores obtained on

the HCI among new mothers who work full-time, part-time, or

are unemployed.

2. There are no significant differences in the

perceived level of crisis as measured by scores obtained on

the HCI among new fathers whose wives work full-time, part-

time, or are unemployed.

3. There are no significant differences in the

perceived level of crisis as measured by scores obtained on

the HICI between new mothers and new fathers in couples where

the wife works full-time.

4. There are no significant differences in the

perceived level of crisis as measured by scores obtained on

the HCI between new mothers and new fathers in couples where

the wife works part-time.





5. There are no significant differences in the

perceived level of crisis as measured by scores obtained on

the HCI between new mothers and new fathers in couples where

the wife is unemployed.



Russell Gratification Checklist (RGC)

1. There are no significant differences in the

perceived level of gratification as measured by scores

obtained on the R~GC among new mothers who work full-time,

part-time, or are unemployed.

2. There are no significant differences in the

perceived level of gratification as measured by scores

obtained on the RGC among new fathers whose wives work full-

time, part-time, or are unemployed.

3. There are no significant differences in the

perceived level of gratification as measured by scores

obtained on the RGC between new mothers and new fathers in

couples where the wife works full-time.

4. There are no significant differences in the

perceived level of gratification as measured by scores

obtained on the RGC between new mothers and new fathers in

couples where the wife works part-time.

5. There are no significant differences in the

perceived level of gratification as measured by scores

obtained on the RGC between new mothers and new fathers in

couples where the wife is unemployed.





Life Role Salience Scales (LRSS)

1. There are no significant differences in levels

of occupational role salience as measured by scores obtained

on the Occupational Role Reward Value Scale (ORV) of the

LRSS among new mothers who work full-time, part-time, or are

unemployed.

2. There are no significant differences in levels

of parental role salience as measured by scores obtained on

the Parental Role Reward Value Scale (PRY) of the LRSS among

new mothers who work full-time, part-time, or are

unemployed.

3. There are no significant differences in levels

of marital role salience as measured by scores obtained on

the Mlarital Role Reward Value Scale (MRV) of the LRSS among

new mothers who work full-time, part-time, or are

unemployed.

4. There are no significant differences in levels

of domestic role salience as measured by scores obtained on

the Home Maintenance Role Reward Value Scale (HRV) of the

LRSS among new mothers who work full-time, part-time, or are

unemployed.

5. There are no significant differences in levels

of occupational role involvement as measured by scores

obtained on the Occupational Role Participation Scale (ORP)

of the LRSS among new mothers who work full-time, part-time,

or are unemployed.





6. There are no significant differences in levels

of parental role involvement as measured by scores obtained

on the Parental Role Participation Scale (PRP) of the LYSS

among new mothers who work full-time, part-time, or are

unemployed.

7. There are no significant differences in levels

of marital role involvement as measured by scores obtained

on the Marital Role Participation Scale (MRP) of the LRSS

among new mothers who work full-time, part-time, or are

unemployed.

8. There are no significant differences in levels

of domestic role involvement as measured by scores obtained

on the Hiome Maintenance Role Participation Scale (HRP) of

the LRSS among new mothers who work full-time, part-time, or

are unemployed.

9. There are no significant differences in levels

of occupational role salience as measured by scores obtained

on the ORY Scale of the LRSS among new fathers whose wives

work full-timne, part-time, or are unemployed.

10. There are no significant differences in levels

of parental role salience as measured by scores obtained on

the PRV Scale of the LRSS among new fathers whose wives work

full-time, part-time, or are unemployed.

11. There are no significant differences in levels

of marital role salience as measured by scores obtained on

the MRV Scale of the LRSS among new fathers whose wives work

full-time, part-time, or are unemployed.




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