Given the dramatic increase in women's employment over the past half century, the transition to parenthood is now followed by the early transition back to paid work for the majority of new mothers. Pressures associated with parental employment and childcare have become growing concerns for new parents. Research highlights the lack of consensus about the short- and long-term consequences of early parental employment for both parents and children. Even less is known about how socio-cultural factors, such as race, class, and family structure, affect parents' and children's mental health across these multiple transitions. The primary goal of the proposed research is to explore how the transition to parenthood, coupled with the early return to paid employment affects the mental health and family relationships of working-class parents and children over the short- (1-year) and long-term (6 years), with the aim of exploring how these processes differ as a function of race and family structure.
The first aim i s to explore the long-term effects of the transition to parenthood and early parental employment on parents' and children's mental health five years later. A sample of 153 couples, who experienced the transition to parenthood between 1996 and 2001, will be re-interviewed as their first child enters kindergarten, affording the unique opportunity to examine how patterns established in the first year of parenthood are related to family members' mental health and relationships five years later.
The second aim i s to examine how race and family structure moderate how new parents fare as they become new parents and manage full-time employment. The original transition to parenthood study will be replicated with three new sub-samples including, African-American, single-mother and two-parent families and European-American single mothers. The objectives of the replication are: (1) to examine change in new parents' mental health and intimate relationships as they become new parents and soon thereafter return to full-time work, (2) to identify how work conditions, social support, gender ideology, expectations about parenthood, and characteristics of the child and parents mediate the effects of the multiple transitions on parents' mental health, (3) to examine change in family roles and behaviors across the first year of parenthood, and (4) to determine the effects of family-friendly workplace policies on parents' mental health across the transition to parenthood.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Research Project (R01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-RPHB-4 (01))
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Otey, Emeline M
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University of Massachusetts Amherst
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Perry-Jenkins, Maureen; Smith, JuliAnna Z; Wadsworth, Lauren Page et al. (2017) Workplace Policies and Mental Health among Working-Class, New Parents. Community Work Fam 20:226-249
Perry-Jenkins, Maureen; Herman, Rachel J; Halpern, Hillary Paul et al. (2017) From Discovery to Practice: Translating and Transforming Work-Family Research for the Health of Families. Fam Relat 66:614-628
Newkirk, Katie; Perry-Jenkins, Maureen; Sayer, Aline G (2017) Division of Household and Childcare Labor and Relationship Conflict Among Low-Income New Parents. Sex Roles 76:319-333
Paul Halpern, Hillary; Perry-Jenkins, Maureen (2016) Parents' Gender Ideology and Gendered Behavior as Predictors of Children's Gender-Role Attitudes: A Longitudinal Exploration. Sex Roles 74:527-542
Hayes, U L; Balaban, S; Smith, J Z et al. (2010) Role of pelvic sensory signaling during delivery in postpartum mental health. J Reprod Infant Psychol 28:307-323
Meteyer, Karen B; Perry-Jenkins, Maureen (2009) DYADIC PARENTING AND CHILDREN'S EXTERNALIZING SYMPTOMS. Fam Relat 58:289-302
Keeton, Courtney Pierce; Perry-Jenkins, Maureen; Sayer, Aline G (2008) Sense of control predicts depressive and anxious symptoms across the transition to parenthood. J Fam Psychol 22:212-21
Claxton, Amy; Perry-Jenkins, Maureen (2008) No Fun Anymore: Leisure and Marital Quality Across the Transition to Parenthood. J Marriage Fam 70:28-43
Perry-Jenkins, Maureen; Goldberg, Abbie E; Pierce, Courtney P et al. (2007) Shift Work, Role Overload, and the Transition to Parenthood. J Marriage Fam 69:123-138