Couple, parent, and infant characteristics and perceptions of conflictual coparenting over the transition to parenthood

Sarah J. Schoppe-Sullivan, Amy K. Nuttall, Miranda N. Berrigan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study examined trajectories of new parents’ perceptions of conflictual coparenting and predictors thereof. Partners in 182 dual-earner different-gender U.S. couples reported their prenatal marital conflict and individual characteristics (conflictual coparenting in the family of origin, parenting self-efficacy expectations, and parenting role beliefs) during the third trimester of pregnancy, their infant’s characteristics (negative affectivity and gender) at 3 months postpartum, and their perceptions of undermining coparenting and exposure to conflict at 3, 6, and 9 months postpartum. Results of latent growth curve models indicated that new parents’ perceptions of undermining, but not exposure to conflict, increased similarly from 3 to 9 months. Fathers perceived higher initial undermining than mothers, but there were no gender differences in exposure to conflict. For mothers, greater prenatal marital conflict and greater infant negative affectivity were associated with elevated levels of perceived undermining and exposure to conflict. For fathers, more egalitarian role beliefs were associated with lower undermining and less exposure to conflict, whereas greater prenatal marital conflict, higher conflictual coparenting in the family of origin, and greater infant negative affectivity were associated with greater exposure to conflict. Fathers also perceived greater undermining and exposure to conflict when mothers reported higher prenatal marital conflict, whereas mothers’ greater conflictual coparenting in the family of origin was related to fathers’ lower exposure to conflict. These findings provide valuable information to strengthen programs focused on improving coparenting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)908-930
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Volume39
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This work was supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development grant numbers 1K-1HD056238 and R24HD058484 and the U.S. National Science Foundation grant number CAREER 0746548.

Funding Information:
The data described herein were presented previously at the Parenting and Family Dynamics preconference to the 2020 Society for Personality and Social Psychology annual meeting in New Orleans, LA. We have no known conflict of interest to disclose. This research was funded by the National Science Foundation (Grant CAREER 0746548), with additional support from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (Grant 1K-1HD056238), and The Ohio State University’s Institute for Population Research (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Grant R24HD058484) and program in Human Development and Family Science. We also acknowledge Claire M. Kamp Dush’s invaluable contributions to the design and execution of the New Parents Project.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021.

Keywords

  • coparenting conflict
  • egalitarian role beliefs
  • family of origin
  • gender
  • infant temperament
  • marital conflict
  • transition to parenthood

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