From expecting to experiencing: Sources of resilient parenting self-efficacy

C. Schuengel, M.L. Verhage, M. Oosterman, S. Schoppe-Sullivan, C. Kamp Dush, J. Kohlhoff, B. Barnett

Research output: Contribution to JournalMeeting AbstractOther research output


Expectation of competence in parenting infants, or parenting self-efficacy (PSE), is an elusive concept both for parents and professionals. High PSE may have different consequences for infant development depending on the basis of PSE (e.g., actual experience vs. persuasion). High PSE may also not be maintained when actual parenting starts. Experimental studies, intervention studies, and longitudinal studies starting during pregnancy are yielding novel findings on PSE, which serve as input for a discussion that should deepen understanding of PSE and increase the utility of the concept for practice. The first presentation tests robustness of PSE in two ways. The first approach is based on a computerized task in which prenatal PSE was challenged among 179 pregnant women by manipulating success in regulating the baby. The second approach followed first-time mothers (intended N=1000) across all
trimesters of pregnancy and during the first year to examine patterns of change in PSE in relation to infant temperament. Analyses of the experimental data demonstrated that PSE decreased in response to regulation difficulty. The longitudinal data (preliminary n = 138) indicated that PSE on average increased across pregnancy and first year, but not for mothers of more irritable babies. Is there a common mechanism involved? The second presentation focuses on the course of PSE from pregnancy to 9 months postpartum in 180 new mothers and fathers,
and the role that coparenting support plays in initial levels of PSE and change in PSE over time. Expectant parents completed a survey regarding task-specific PSE during the third trimester of pregnancy, and again 3 months and 9 months after their infant’s birth. At 3 months and 9 months postpartum, new parents completed a survey about
coparenting. Preliminary SEM analyses of associations between PSE and coparenting support over time indicate that for fathers, increases in PSE from 3 to 9 months postpartum were precipitated by greater perceived coparenting support, but a similar effect was not observed for mothers. The third presentation focuses on PSE and early persistent infant behavior disturbance (i.e., excessive crying, sleeping and feeding difficulties in the first year postpartum). The study included 80 first-time mothers participating in a residential parent-infant intervention with an unsettled infant. Results show clear associations between infant behavior and PSE, and support the effectiveness of the intervention with respect to both variables. Associations between PSE and various maternal variables including depression and anxiety, attachment security and perceived parenting during childhood will also be
reported and discussed. Professor Bryanne Barnett will relate in her discussion to links with perinatal mental health, to open up the discussion with the symposium participants about including PSE in building resilience in at-risk families.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2184
Pages (from-to)181-182
Number of pages2
JournalInfant Mental Health Journal
Issue number3, Supplement
Publication statusPublished - 2012
EventWorld Association for Infant Mental Health 13th Biennial World Congress -
Duration: 17 Apr 201221 Apr 2012


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