Deakin University

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Parenting orientations in young adulthood: Predicting timing of parenthood and quality of postpartum caregiving.

journal contribution
posted on 2023-02-13, 01:11 authored by Jacqui MacdonaldJacqui Macdonald, Sam Collins, Christopher GreenwoodChristopher Greenwood, George J Youssef, Kimberly Thomson, Primrose LetcherPrimrose Letcher, Liz SpryLiz Spry, Craig OlssonCraig Olsson
Most but not all adults become parents, yet it remains unclear which characteristics indicate an orientation toward parenting. The aims of this study were to (a) distinguish profiles of individual and interpersonal resources in young adults that may orient them toward parenthood and (b) investigate whether profiles predicted timing of entering parenthood, postpartum parenting behavior, and parent-infant bonding. Participants were 1,429 young people (53% female) enrolled in an Australian 39-year longitudinal study. Predictor data for latent profile analysis were collected at 23-24 and 27-28 years. Parenthood timing was designated as "early" ≤ 25 years, "on-time" > 25 years, and "not a parent" by age 37 years. Parenting outcomes were assessed at 12 months postpartum in 684 parents of 1,144 children. Four-profile classes were identified: "connected" (n = 463, 32.4%), "constricted empathy" (n = 461, 32.3%), "insecure" (n = 343, 24%), and "disconnected" (n = 162, 11.3%). Connected young adults were characterized by close ties to family of origin and peers and by identity clarity and empathy. Connected participants were more likely than those in insecure and disconnected classes to be parents by 37 years and more likely to enter parenthood "on-time" compared to "early" parenthood in the constricted empathy class. Among those who became parents, the connected class reported the strongest bonds and warmest parenting and was least anxious or hostile in parenting their infants. Findings provide insights into preconception patterns among variables that together predict reproductive timing, postpartum bonding, and quality of parenting. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).



Journal of Personality and Social Psychology


United States








American Psychological Association (APA)