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 The authors, clinical psychologists at UC Berkeley, present the results of their 18 years of study of one hundred couples making the transition from partners to parents. Given what the Cowans report, though--turmoil, inconvenience, and marital dissension and possible dissolution--readers might well wonder why anyone would choose to have a baby. The arrival of a child changes individuals and a marriage in every way, say the Cowans--who seem to consider the rewards of parenting as too obvious to elaborate on, and so only summarily allude to the feeling of being a part of the adult world, the indescribable love and delight, the chance to reconnect with one's own parents in new and perhaps more positive ways. Instead, the authors concentrate on the challenges and frustrations of new parenthood: the nearly inevitable placing of more domestic responsibility upon the wife, even in determinedly egalitarian couples; the troubling changes in sex drive and frequency of lovemaking; the lack of support for parents in the world of work and child care; the latent issues of one's own childhood, invariably activated by having a child. The Cowans' solution to all these maladies is couples' groups led by trained therapists to reassure prospective and new parents that they are not alone, to help them achieve realistic expectations, and to allow them to vent frustration and to share solutions. The authors admit that such groups are not widely available, and so they provide some do-it- yourself suggestions, most of them obvious (make time to talk; don't ignore sex and intimacy, etc.). Well intentioned but dully written, and delivering a more depressing view of new parenthood than the authors probably intended.

Pub Date: April 21st, 1992
ISBN: 0-465-01495-6
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Basic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1992