A descriptive study of the relationships between age, stage of adult development, and prenatal experience of first-time fathers

Keith Alan Karstens (1989)

The purpose of this study was to explore relationships between age, stage of adult development (using Daniel Levinson's theory of adult development), and the experiences of first-time fathers during the third trimester of pregnancy. A survey was distributed to expectant fathers at prenatal classes. The study focused on three broad areas: the father's emotional experience of paternity; the father's experience of the effects of the pregnancy on the couple relationship; and the father's experience of the effects of the pregnancy on his work experience. Analysis of the data revealed that men in the early adult period of adult development were more involved with the pregnancy overall. This included external involvement such as buying supplies and planning to care for the infant as well as internal involvement such as re-examining what it means to be a man in light of the pregnancy. Men in this stage also reported more pregnancy symptoms and were more likely to report a feeling that they were pregnant. Men in the age 30 transitional period were least involved with the pregnancy. They also reported conflicts with work and family roles whereas men in the stable periods did not. There were no significant differences in the way in which men experienced the couple relationship although respondents in general felt closer to their mates as a result of the pregnancy.