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Becoming Parents and Experiencing Parenthood Chapter 10 1.

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1 Becoming Parents and Experiencing Parenthood Chapter 10 1

2 Chapter Outline Fertility Patterns and Parenthood Options in the United States Pregnancy in the United States Experiencing Childbirth Choosing How: Adoptive Families Becoming a Parent Parental Roles Strategies and Styles of Child Rearing Diversity in Parent–Child Relationships Parenting and Caregiving in Later Life 2

3 Fertility Patterns and Parenthood Options in the United States 3

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6 Unmarried Parenthood In 2007, a record number of unmarried women gave birth. There were 1.7 million nonmarital births, a 26% increase since 2002. The percentage of births to unmarried women differs for different racial or ethnic groups. 6

7 Forgoing Parenthood Increasingly, there are couples who don’t become parents In developed countries, the estimated prevalence of infertility ranges from 3.5% to 16.7%; in less developed countries, the prevalence ranged from 6.9% to 9.3% of women In more recent years, the term childless has been joined by child free when referring to those without children. 7

8 Voluntarily Childless Women Compared to those who are involuntarily or temporarily childless, voluntarily childless women are characterized as follows: Less likely to be or ever have been married Less likely to believe that staying home and caring for children makes women happier More likely to report no religious affiliation More likely to be employed, work full time, and be employed in professional and managerial occupations, and have higher individual and family incomes 8

9 Waiting a While: Parenthood Deferred Although most women who become mothers still begin their families while in their twenties, we can expect the trend toward later parenthood to continue to grow More career and lifestyle options are available to single women today than in the past. Marriage and reproduction are no longer economic or social necessities. People may take longer to search out the “right” mate, and they may wait for the “right” time to have children. Increasingly effective birth control 9

10 How Expensive Are Children? Cost estimates of raising a “typical” child, born in 2007, to age 18, range between $196,000 (for those in the lower third of the income range) and $393,230 (upper-third income bracket). These estimates do not include costs associated with prenatal medical care or childbirth, nor do they include costs of college or other postsecondary education. 10

11 Choosing When: Is There an Ideal Age at Which to Have a Child? Mothers who bear their first child in their teens face: Twice the risk of anemia as women who have their first child between ages 30-35 Worsened educational outcomes But at the opposite end, there are significant risks for pregnancy- and labor-related distress among older first- time mothers 11

12 Choosing When: Is There an Ideal Age at Which to Have a Child? 12

13 Pregnancy in the United States In 2004, there were more than 6.4 million pregnancies in the United States Pregnancy rates remain highest for women in their twenties. Of the nearly 6.4 million pregnancies in the United States in 2004: 4.1 million (64%) resulted in births 1.2 million (19%) in induced abortions 1 million (17%) in fetal loss 13

14 Being Pregnant It is estimated that more than a third (35.1%) of all births to women ages 15 to 44 were either unwanted (14.1%) or unexpected (20.8%) at the time of conception. Unplanned pregnancies present greater risks for problems associated with lack of readiness or preparedness for parenting on the part of pregnant women or expectant couples. 14

15 How Pregnancy Affects Couples’ Relationships A couple’s relationship is likely to undergo changes during pregnancy. The first trimester (three months) of pregnancy may be difficult physically and emotionally for the expectant mother. During the second trimester, most nausea and fatigue disappear, and the pregnant woman can feel the fetus move within her. The third trimester may be the time of the greatest difficulties in daily living. 15

16 Experiencing Childbirth The concept of the medicalization of childbirth depicts women receiving impersonal, almost assembly line–quality care during labor and delivery and lacking much input or control over their childbirth experiences. The question of what women most want or need is central to what became a feminist critique of contemporary childbirth. 16

17 What Mothers Say According to the 2002 survey, most mothers felt “quite positive” about their birthing experiences Nearly all women (97%) reported giving birth in a hospital, and most (80% in 2002, 79% in 2005) were attended to by obstetricians Qualitative assessments of the overall care and treatment women received from their physicians were mostly positive 17

18 Infant Mortality The rate of infant mortality in the United States remains far higher than the rates in most of the developed world Overall, the rate has fluctuated between 6.8 and 6.9 deaths for every 1,000 live births since 2000 The United States infant mortality rate tied for twenty-ninth in the world, along with Poland and Slovakia, meaning that 28 countries had lower infant mortality rates than the United States. 18

19 Infant Mortality 19

20 Adoptive Families Characteristics of Adoptive Families Adopted children are more likely to be female than male Economically, families with adopted children are somewhat better off than those without. Adopted children were more likely to have some disability than were biological children (15% vs. 7% of boys, 9% vs. 4% of girls). “Mental disabilities” were the most common disability More adopted children (78%) than biological children (74%) lived in two-parent households. 20

21 Open Adoption Adoption laws vary widely from state to state With confidentiality no longer the norm, the trend is toward open adoption in which there is contact between the adoptive family and the birth parents Adoption experts have been somewhat divided over whether open or closed adoption is in the best interest of the involved parties 21

22 Becoming a Parent The time immediately following birth is a critical period for family adjustment. Infants of women suffering postpartum depression also suffer, as postpartum depression interferes with mothers’ abilities to respond to their newborns’ needs and may lead to poor emotional and cognitive development 22

23 Taking on Parental Roles and Responsibilities Features of entering parenthood: Irreversibility Lack of preparation Idealization and romanticization Suddenness Role conflict 23

24 Taking on Parental Roles and Responsibilities Five domains in which new parents experience change as a result of the arrival of children: 1. Identity and inner-life changes 2. Shifts within the marital roles and relationship 3. Shifts in intergenerational relationships 4. Changes in roles and relationships outside the family 5. New parenting roles and relationships 24

25 Stresses of New Parenthood Although the first year of child rearing is bound to be stressful, the partners experience less stress if they: 1. have already developed a strong relationship 2. Are open in their communication 3. have agreed on family planning 4. originally had a strong desire for the child 25

26 Motherhood Many women see motherhood as their “destiny.” Although researchers are unable to find any purely instinctual motives for having children among humans, they recognize many social motives impelling women to become mothers The standards against which mothers are judged are often unrealistic and idealized, putting women in a situation of comparing themselves to a model to which it is difficult, if not impossible, to fully “measure up.” 26

27 Fatherhood Fathers today participate more than they did in the past in a broader range of child care activities. However, the cultural expectations of fathers are not the same as the expectations of mothers, nor do fathers participate to the same extent or kind that mothers participate 27

28 What Parenthood Does to Parents Early research depicted the transition to parenthood as a crisis leading to a decline in marital quality and satisfaction. We now know, however, that the impact of parenthood is variable New parents show more traditional divisions of duties and lower levels of companionship compared to couples without children 28

29 Strategies and Styles of Child Rearing The techniques of child rearing currently taught or endorsed by educators, psychologists, and others involved with child development differ somewhat in their emphasis but share most of the tenets that follow: Respect. Consistency and clarity. Logical consequences. Open communication. No physical punishment. Behavior modification. 29

30 Styles of Child Rearing Authoritarian child rearing Permissive/indulgent child rearing Authoritative child rearing Uninvolved parenting 30

31 What Do Children Need? Adequate prenatal nutrition and care Appropriate stimulation and care of newborns Formation of at least one close attachment during the first five years Support for the family “under pressure from an uncaring world,” including child care when a parent or parents must work Protection from illness Freedom from physical and sexual abuse Supportive friends, both adults and children Respect for the child’s individuality and the presentation of appropriate challenges leading to competence Safe, nurturing, and challenging schooling Adolescence “free of pressure to grow up too fast, yet respectful of natural biological transformations” Protection from premature parenthood 31

32 Diversity in Parent–Child Relationships Parental marital status affects children’s upbringing and well-being. Consistently, researchers have found that children who live with both of their biological parents benefit in a variety of ways when compared to peers in: Single parent households Remarried parent or stepparent households Cohabiting-parent households. 32

33 Gay and Lesbian Parents and Their Children Researchers estimate that there are more than 7 million gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender parents just with school-age children in the United States Heterosexual fears about the parenting abilities of lesbians and gay men are exaggerated and unnecessary Ultimately, it is the quality of parenting and the harmony within the family—not the sexuality of the parents—that matters most to children 33

34 What about Nonparental Households? 34

35 What about Nonparental Households? Generally, research has documented that children in nonparental households suffer when compared to children who live with at least one parent. Comparisons of children in foster care, albeit only one type of nonparental care, show negative effects in areas ranging from children’s mental health, academic achievement, drug use, and behavioral problems 35

36 Parenting and Caregiving in Later Life By some measures, children are “growing up” later than at any time in the past. Most parents with adult children still feel themselves to be parents even when their “children” are middle aged. Some elderly parents never cease being parents because they provide home care for children who are severely limited either physically or mentally. 36

37 Children Caring for Parents Parent–child relationships do not flow just in one direction. A common experience faced by many American families is the need to provide care for aging or ill parents. Certain circumstances create parentified children—children forced to become caregivers for their parents well before adulthood 37


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