Kerryn Boogaard Kerryn Boogaard
Beverly Goldsmith Beverly Goldsmith
Zoe Bingley-Pullin Zoe Bingley-Pullin

Myths v realities of parenthood:

Up to one-third of women and men in Australia are thought to experience some form of emotional stress when expecting a baby or in early parenthood.
By Motherpedia
Date: October 16 2014
Tags: parenthood,
Editor Rating:

Expectations of parenthood are so different from the reality that some new parents "do not know who they are anymore" according to research from Monash University.

While becoming a parent is seen as a ‘happy event’, it is also a time when significant emotional changes occur and where parents must learn new skills and re-focus their lives on the baby. This also involves a changing dynamic in the relationship between the parents of the baby.

According to researchers at Monash University, the challenges of new parenthood are unexpected both in terms of nature and magnitude.

“Australians today are having fewer children than past generations and are often starting their families later,” write A/Professor Renata Kokanovic and Kate Johston-Ataata, co-authors of the study.

They say this reduces the opportunity to learn informally about infant care through helping to raise younger siblings or being around friends with babies.

A contributing factor is also the ‘romanticising’ of early parenthood and especially motherhood.

“This contributes to perceptions of instant bonding, instinctive breastfeeding and ‘perfect babies’ being cared for by ‘perfect mothers’,” the study states.

This overly-optimistic view of the simplicity of parenthood can lead to significant stress for all parents, and regardless of the diversity of the family and parenting arrangements.

“Most parents we interviewed described having ‘unrealistic’ expectations about baby behaviour, particularly in relation to crying, sleep patterns and feeding.”

Many parents also believe they imposed standards that were too high on themselves, resulting in distress at the gap between their expectations and experiences.

The authors have made three recommendations to help prepare expectant mothers and fathers for early parenthood.

1.  Better antenatal education

Antenatal education provided through hospitals should be more relevant to expecting parents. The research identified that many new parents believe antenatal education hasn’t been updated for decades and needs a better balance between labour and birth and early parenting.

2.  Willingness for other parents to be open about their experiences

This is to make-up for the informal learning that is no longer available through family networks, and involves more experienced parents openly discussing their ‘real-life’ experiences. The study takes the view that greater openness of experience can better help expecting parents for what’s ahead.

3.  Improved online resources to share experiences of early parenthood

There is a lot of information online, and it is an increasingly important source of information about pregnancy and birth, but new parents need to be guided on what is useful and reliable.

Share This Tweet This Email To Friend
Recent Comments
1 Total Comments
Tracey says: 2014 10 16

Having a baby these day is so much different to when I had mine. Have seen how the different ways are with my son and his partner with their child, second guessing everything and also thinking they know what is needed. Some times the old ways can be better.

View All Comments
Post a Comment
* your email address will not appear

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

Post a Comment
* your email address will not appear

Please enter the word you see in the image below:33343

Your Comment has been posted
Related Articles
There are no 'rules' about losing baby weight - but…
Read more
Shift work offers flexibility but it can be tough to…
Read more
Women with one child report significantly higher levels of depressive…
Read more
How a baby and post-natal depression impacted family and career.
Read more
Cry babies

Dry your eyes!
The newest additions are on their way from the Babies who cry real tears!


Latest Tech Used In Shipping Containers
Read how the shipping industry has revolutionised

Motherpedia cover-2

Win 1 set of a 4-book hardcover illustrated boxed set
Barbara Murray’s new 4-book Sound Stories is perfect for parents and educators and could assist with NAPLAN results

Motherpedia cover (4)

Where to celebrate Oktoberfest Australia
Get ready for this celebration!

Motherpedia cover-4

A Fortnight of Foodie Experiences at East Village
A taste of East Village. What's in it for me?

Globber my too fix up cover

We Try: Globber My TOO Fix Up
A scooter that grows with your child

Throw a winning cricket pitch

3 Steps to a Winning Backyard Cricket Pitch
Ex-Adelaide Oval legend curator Les Burdett shares his tips for getting your backyard cricket pitch test match ready this summer

A bike that follows your kids life cycle - motherpedia - cover

A Bike That Follows Your Kids Life Cycle
Check out the Bunzi 2-in-1 gradual balance bike!

Moonlight lifestyle

Moonlight Cinema to bring…
Moonlight Cinema announces brand new Western Sydney venue

Screen shot 2019-11-26 at 8.29.12 am

Your Magical Christmas Wonderland…
Adventure park is about to light up the night sky with its "Christmas Festival of Lights"

Screen shot 2019-11-21 at 11.11.36 am

The Preston Market Gets…
It's time to feel pumped up for the holiday season!


Bunnings team members get…
Help raise funds by buying a snag or donating at your local store.