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A. Developmental Tasks of Parents to Be:

Mothering and Fathering
B. Mercers Theory and Rubins Theory
C. Behavior and needs of expectant
D. Mothering Role
E. Fathering Role
F. . Selected situational crises affecting
parental assumption of their role:
1. single parenthood
2. birth of handicapped child
3. adopting a child
4. separation/divorce/annulment
5. hospitalization/death of a
6. working mother/absentee
A. Developmental tasks of parents to
be: Mothering & Fathering
Developmental Tasks of New Parents
1. Reconciling conflicting conceptions of roles
Clarifying role (wife, mother, person,
husband, father, person)
Coming to terms with ones expectations of
self, spouse, and child.
2. Accepting and adjusting to the strains and
pressures of young motherhood/fatherhood
balancing the demands.
3. Learning how to care for their infant.
Learning skills of feeding
Decisions surrounding new child
4. Establishing and maintaining healthy
routines for the family.
Adjusting personal routines to include the
new baby
Adjusting routines to fit with other family
members routines
5. Providing full opportunities fro the childs
Enriching the physical situation
Providing many experiences for child to
Child proof house
Accepting child as an individual
6. Sharing the responsibilities of parenthood.
7. Maintaining a satisfying relationship with
8. Making satisfactory adjustments to the
practical realities of life

Making decisions about job, day-care, etc

Adapting if necessary to limited financial
resources, social life, friends, etc
9. Maintaining a sense of personal autonomy
10. Exploring and developing the satisfactory
sense of being a family.
Family recreation, joint activities
New associations with other relatives in
their roles as Aunt, Uncles, etc
Fathering Role. Fathers play many roles in
parenting their children. Some are involved
in every facet of their child's life while others
concentrate on one or two aspects of raising
their child
suggest that fathers still tend to concentrate
their efforts on a handful of basic parenting
responsibilities. Today, fathers roles tend to
be defined by the "Five Ps":
Participator / Problem Solver
Fathers can
sometimes overlook the
importance of being a regular participator in
their child's life. Being there for a child is
more than physical presence, but helping to
meet children's social, emotional, and
psychological needs.
Fathers talk about the importance of
helping their child solve many of the critical
problems of growing up. These could be the
challenges of emerging adulthood such as
deciding: what to do for a living, whether to
go to college, whether to buy a car; or, they
could be everyday tasks such as homework,
fixing a bike, or hanging a swing from a tree.
In the problem-solver role, dads are
modeling effective problem-solving skills for
their child. They have an opportunity to show
their child how to make and act on decisions,
as well as experience the consequences of
their actions and decisions.
selfreliance. If children are raised without a role
model for effective problem-solving, they
often adopt poor strategies that lead them to
problematic situations.
Children and adults with deficient
problem-solving skills often become needy
and dependent on others to "make things
right" in their life. On the positive side,
fathers who model healthy problem-solving

in relationships have children who are less

aggressive and who are more popular with
their peers and teachers.
While fathers often play a critical role
in their child's life by setting an example of
problem-solving, fathers sometimes get
involved in solving problems when it's nearly
too late. In some family situations, a father
only gets involved when a child's emotional
and behavioral problems have become so
serious that they are less responsive to
treatment. Reserving dad's help for only the
"big" problems is a big mistake. Fathers need
to be involved in all phases of their child's
problem-solving strategies from serving as
an example to serving as a guide who offers
possible solutions to their children).
Fathers can be great jungle gyms.
Research shows that fathers spend more
time, proportionally, with their children in
high-energy, physical play than do mothers.
In addition, fathers tend to engage in more
roughhousing and stimulating play than
mothers, for example, using the elements of
surprise and excitement.
This sets up expectations in children for the
majority of their interactions with fathers
involving physical play.
For example, a daughter hangs on her
father's arm and wants to swing as soon as
he comes through the front door on his way
home from work. Still, this type of play can
be very important in a child's life.
Physical play not only builds muscles and
coordination, but can often be used to teach
rules that govern behavior
(e.g., taking turns, standing in line, playing
physically without injuring someone, etc.).
Through the role of playmate, a father can
encourage his child's sense of autonomy and
independence, which is a major milestone of
social and emotional growth.
In addition, play is often termed a "window to
the child's world." This means that play can
often be used to find out about a child's
thoughts, feelings, hopes, and dreams.
Fathers can also use play to informally start a
serious conversation with their child. In fact,
it's important that fathers
use this time to talk with their child and to
build their emotional bond with them.

Too often, fathers miss this opportunity by

simply playing and substituting physical
contact for verbal interaction
Principled Guide
The clich, "Wait til your father gets home!"
no longer applies due to the diversity of
family types as well as a new understanding
of child discipline as guidance, not
Neither should "punisher" be used to
describe a father's role, especially because
punishment tends to be a negative assertion
of adult power. Punishment emphasizes to
children what they should not do, rather than
how parents would like them to act. Also,
punishment may be the result of a parent's
emotional reaction to a childs behavior.
As a result, a child may feel shamed and
humiliated which undermines trust in the
parent-child relationship. Also, the child's
sense of autonomy and initiative may be
undermined, especially when a child's
unacceptable behavior is well-meaning.
Guidance, on the other hand teaches socially
desirable behavior, helps children to learn
the difference between right and wrong, and
understand the consequences of their own
Fathers who serve as guides for their children
maintain their authority, but use it
Guidance is a collaborative effort between
parent and child that involves an ongoing
Agreement between fathers and mothers on
guidance strategies is important, particularly
when it comes to learning consequences of
unacceptable behavior. If one parent allows
the child to experience the consequences of
his/her poor decision and the other rescues
the child from that experience, there will be
harmful effects to both the parental
relationship and the child's development.
Just as important, when fathers become
over-involved in punishing, they often have
far too little involvement in rewarding good
behaviors. Fathers who want to build a
healthy bond with their child need to use
appropriate guidance. This guidance must be
a balance between correcting unacceptable
behavior and encouraging with praise and
other rewards for successful behavior.

While, in the last few decades, mothers of

dependent children have entered the work
force in unprecedented numbers, men
continue to be identified as the primary
"breadwinner" for the family. This is not
always the case, as some fathers choose to
be the primary providers of childcare, for
example, while working out of the home or
continuing their education. Also, with the
increase in divorce and parenting outside of
marriage, many mothers have become the
main providers for their families.
American society still values the ability of the
father to provide tangible resources (i.e.,
food, money, shelter, material possessions)
for their children. For example, policies
enforcing a non-resident father's payment of
child support reflect such values. Also, an
emphasis on responsible fatherhood has
movements (e.g., the Promise Keepers) in
the 1990s through the new millennium.
More than the provision of material things
(e.g., income and resources) for children and
families, a fathers provider role can be
defined in terms of responsibility for care of
the child. For example, fathers may help to
make plans and arrangements for child care,
even if they are not directly providing care.
All too often, fathers have been led to
believe that providing income and material
support is all there is, their only way for
caring for their family. That's unfortunate,
participating in all of the other parenting
activities that many find so fulfilling, such as
guidance, play, and school activities. Further,
if a father values his role as a parent solely
only in terms of providing material resources
for the family, he may begin to feel trapped
by his employment. Placing a bulk of the
emphasis on a fathers being the provider can
prevent his leaving unsatisfying, well-paying
employment. He may not feel able to risk
(even a temporary) decrease in family
income while he looks for other employment
Fathers often see themselves as someone
involved in preparing their children for life's
challenges, as well as protecting them when
necessary. They may talk with their child
about family values and morals. Or, fathers
educational and employment goals as well as

give advice (when asked for) about peer and

romantic relationships. They may guide their
child about how to behave in school and
work to ensure their child's success in those
areas. They may discuss the importance of
being truthful, of giving an "honest day's
work for an honest day's pay", or showing
their affection to a spouse or partner.
Often, fathers see their relationship with
their child blossom as the child grows into
adolescence and adulthood.
Some fathers even see this as the time to
get involved in preparing their children for
the "real world." In truth, fathers don't need
to wait until their children are becoming
adults in order to teach them important life
lessons. Fathers can provide moral guidance
and practical lessons all the way through
their child's life. This kind of involvement
strengthens the father-child relationship.
partnership between father and child. Most
important, through his influence on many
areas of his child's life, a father teaches his
child how to be a parent.
Mothering Role
Mothering is a relationship with a baby or
child characterized by a strong, emotional
attachment that promotes the infant/child's
survival and well being (Barnard, 1995). A
environmental factors (Mercer, 1981; Rubin,
1984; Koniak-Griffin, 1993) some of which
Quality of mothering she herself
Acceptance of her femininity.
Personal values and goals.
Relationship with the baby's father/
partner and degree of security she derives
from it.
Circumstances surrounding pregnancy
and how welcome it is.
Physical conditions of pregnancy and
Circumstances surrounding pregnancy
and how welcome it is.
Physical conditions of pregnancy and
Influences on Mothers Capacity
Adjustment to role as parent of baby
Baby's temperament and special needs

Knowledge of infant behaviors

Support the parent/s receives
Expectations of baby
Relationship with partner
Health of parents and baby
Previous childbirth experience
Spacing between births
Parenting that both parents received

expectations. Then she imagines herself

performing in that way (projection) and
makes a judgment about the behavior. If the
fit is good, the behavior is accepted.

Reva Rubins Theory: Maternal Role

Attainment. She examined how mothers
use a variety of senses -- sight, smell and
touch -- to become familiar with their
newborns. To encourage the bonding that
she observed, she was an early proponent of
keeping the mother and the newborn
together as much as possible during the first
days after birth. She was the author of "The
Experience" (Springer, 1984). In 1972, she
was a founder with her companion and
longtime professional colleague, Dr. Florence
H. Erickson of the Maternal Child Care
Nursing Journal, the first research journal in
the field. Together, they also established
master's and doctoral programs in nursing at
the University of Pittsburgh. Maternal
identity development is the womans
efforts aimed at becoming a mother

Developmental Stages of Maternal Role

Process of Maternal Role Taking

1. Mimicry- an active operation in which the
woman searches the environment and her
memory for other people who are or have
been in the role she is working to attain, and
then examines their behavior and imitates
2. Role play- acting out what a person in the
sought role actually does in particular
situations. the earliest form of role behavior
3. Fantasy- involves cognitively trying
varieties of possible role situations. occurs by
way of fears, dreams, and daydreams
(IPR/A)- the mother
takes in the behavior of others (introjection),
and examines if it fits her own role

5. Grief work- an operation that has to do

with giving up elements of the former self
which would be in conflict with the new role

A. The Anticipatory Stage: This stage

begins during pregnancy whereby the
woman prepares for her new role. The
pregnant woman prepares for this new role
developmental tasks (Rubin,1984).
Maternal Tasks-The totality of a womans
psychologic work of pregnancy. Has been
grouped into four
1. Seeking safe passage for self and baby:
seeking safe passage in the first trimester is
for pregnancy care, in the second trimester it
is for baby care, and in the third it is for
delivery care. Seeking safe passage for
herself and her child through pregnancy,
labor, and delivery.
acceptance is a condition necessary to
produce and sustain the energy for all the
other tasks. involves a reworking of
psychologic, social and physical space within
the family to make a place for the coming
3. Learning to give of self: giving is an
inherent and pervasive part of being a
childrearing. the woman has to learn to give
to the child voluntarily on a day-to-day basis
in order for the child to survive
4. Binding-in to the unknown baby: maternal
binding-in is the dynamic process of
attachment and interconnection with the
infant that begins in the prenatal period. has
two halves: binding-in to the infant and
binding-in to self as mother of the infant

B. The Formal Stage

The formal stage begins at birth. During this
stage the new mother needs to complete the
following tasks as part of the process for
acquiring the mothering role (Mercer, 1981)
Maternal Tasks:
1. Reconcile the actual childbirth
experience with her prenatal fantasies
of birth.
As the mother reviews the events of
childbirth and reflects on how they differed
from what she expected, she begins
expectation. She evaluates her performance
in relation to the experiences of her mother,
sisters, and friends. When the actual
experience is not what was expected, the
mother may feel that her performance was
inadequate. Home visitors can involve
partners in this discussion so that 1) the
mother can receive reassurance and support
about her performance or 2) the experience
can be reframed so that she and the partner
Reconcile pre-birth fantasies of baby
with actual infant characteristics. Talking
about how her baby's characteristics
compare with her fantasies of baby during
pregnancy helps the mother see baby's
uniqueness. Through this process the mother
begins to claim the baby as hers, a step that
is important for sensitive and responsive
care. When baby is the desired sex and has
temperament characteristics, then this task
takes less effort and time and she can move
to other tasks. When there are major gaps
between expectations and reality, there is

more work for mom. Including the partner in

this discussion can help facilitate identity
with and attachment to baby for both mother
and partner.
Reconcile her body image after birth
with her expectations. The new mother
wants to look and feel feminine again. She is
concerned about her appearance. Her
partner's response can assist with this task
or prolong it.
Observe the baby's normal bodily
functions. The new mother needs to see
baby feed, suck, burp, and cry so that she
can be assured that there is nothing wrong
with the baby. This is part of the early
attachment process.
Perform mothering tasks. During the first
two weeks after birth, the first time mother
with no experience focuses on learning and
performing infant care tasks such a bathing,
feeding, burping, and diaper changing. The
experienced mother is concerned with how
to mother this new baby and how the baby
will fit into the family. The experienced, as
well as the inexperienced mother may have
mood swings, be easily frustrated and critical
of herself. Most mothers, regardless of
experience, need reassurance that they are
capable of caring for the new baby.
Redefine partner roles. The new mother
and father begin to redefine their roles as
partners and as parents to include the new
family member.
Resume other responsibilities. Following
birth the mother begins to anticipate the
responsibilities awaiting her at home
including meal preparation, care of older
children, and laundry. The partner can assist
the mother with identifying individuals who
can help them during the early weeks
following birth. Around two weeks after birth,
the mother wants to resume social activities
outside the home. Finding her at home for a
home visit may be difficult after two weeks
as the mother resumes outside activities.
C. The Informal Stage
The informal stage begins during the first
month. The mother creates her own
responses to her baby's cues and relies less
on the advise of experts. The baby's
response to her care and comments from
family members and friends provide the
mother with feedback about her competence
as mother of this baby.

D. The Personal, Maternal Role Identity

This stage signals the endpoint of maternal
role attainment. During this stage the
Develops a sense of competence and
satisfaction in the role.
Attaches to the infant.
Is comfortable with her maternal identity.
The timing and duration of these stages are
influenced by a number of factors including
previous mothering experience, culture,
support from significant others, the mother's
physical recovery, the baby's temperament
and expectations of baby.
Ramona T. Mercers Theory 1929-Present:
Maternal Role Attainment- Becoming A

Mother- an interactional and developmental

process occurring over time in which the
mother becomes attached to her infant,
acquires competence in the caretaking tasks
involved in the role. The movement to the
personal state in which the mother
experiences a sense of harmony, confidence,
and competence in how she performs the
role is the end point of maternal role
attainment- Maternal identity