Strengthening the building of realistic expectations: first time fathers with realistic expectations have happy wives

  • W. Nieuwenboom
  • C. Benz
  • H. Schmid
  • V. Anderegg
  • G. Bodenmann


Background. As prior research suggests, transition to parenthood is detrimental to relationship functioning among the parents, which might in turn also affect the parent-child relationship. It was hypothesized that training programs for couples facing the birth of their first child will reduce these negative effects by creating realistic expectations with respect to new tasks, roles and time lapses after birth. Methods. In a randomized controlled pre-post-follow-up design, 273 couples were assigned to one of three conditions: Couple Care and Training Program (CCC-P, strong intervention), designed to support couples during and after the transition state to first parenthood (n=74), a self-directed learning approach in which parents use a DVD to learn knowledge and skills needed to adapt to parenthood (moderate intervention) (n=104) and treatment as usual (TAU, no intervention) (n=95). Findings. Analysis shows a small but significant correlation between strength of intervention and the difference between the expected and received practical support after birth (r =.16, p ≤ .05) with TAU fathers showing the largest difference. Only among fathers, the intervention has a positive effect on the perceived satisfaction of the mother (r= .13, p. ≤ .05) which is mediated by expectations for practical support (r =.16, p ≤ .05). Discussion. Our hypothesis has partially been confirmed. Interventions targeting on building realistic expectations among future parents are promising in order to promote a healthy couple relationship after birth.
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