Major and Classification
Darby Saxbe, Ph.D.
American Studies and Ethnicity
“Childhood Adversity and the Transition to Parenthood”
Becoming a parent is a new experience that can bring joy to couples, but which can also produce a tremendous amount of stress. I hypothesized that childhood adversity would affect marital satisfaction and prenatal feelings and emotions about their soon-to-be-born child for first-time parents. This study selected eight couples (16 participants) that were first-time parents and video recorded and surveyed them when they were 5-7.5 months pregnant. Couples participated in an expectations discussion, a “who-does-what” discussion, and a couple’s conflict discussion. They were also administered a survey measuring past childhood adversity and current marital adjustment. Although the correlation between past childhood adversity and marital satisfaction was found to be insignificant (p < .05) the overall trend did show that the more adverse a person’s childhood was, the less satisfied they were with their marriage. A marginal result demonstrated the more adverse a person’s childhood was, the more negative words they used to describe expectations regarding their first child (p = .04). This research provides evidence of a correlation between a person’s adverse childhood experiences and how negatively or positively they feel about becoming a parent.