BECOMING PARENTS: Preparing for the Emotional Changes of First-time Parenthood by Sandra Sohn & Jack Viertel Jaffe
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BECOMING PARENTS: Preparing for the Emotional Changes of First-time Parenthood

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Can anything prepare couples for parenthood? The assumption behind this brightly conceived and smoothly written book is that recording and analyzing the plights of new families can at least clarify the issues: how breastfeeding affects all facets of family life, how new mothers grow up fast and upset the power balance, why some couples succeed while other barely cope. Or as one new mother put it, ""Everyone needs to know how hard it is. But they also have to be told why anyone bothers."" As an approach, this is more resourceful than Peck and Granzig's The Parent Test (1977), and knowingly positioned too: one couple's almost workable plan is dubbed ""the worst solution except for all the alternatives."" All six couples find their expectations rocked and their relationships strained, but when the dust settles they find it's worth it. The couples selected tend to be older and financially stable--which won't help teenagers who need other guidance--but their parenting arrangements and styles are varied and the problems they encounter are representative. One woman misses her old job, another avoids her husband, a third walks out in a rage; one husband retreats to the office, another is reconciled with his estranged family, several feel threatened by their wives' emerging strengths. Their situations are real, and the sentiments they express often echo the revelations in the comparable section of Ourselves and Our Children (1978), although here the whole-family scene is examined. Their words also recall (but don't match) the penetrating analysis of hopes and hidden agendas in Isaacs and Keller's The Inner Parent (p. 431). Overall, it's an admirable job, combining parent versions of events with outsiders' appraisals in a way that deliberating couples will find clear and accessible. And the uncovered truths (""The dilemma of the first year is how to remain a couple while becoming a trio"" . . . ""The struggle to become parents is a struggle to become grown"") are sustaining

Pub Date: Oct. 29th, 1979
Publisher: Atheneum