Anticipating Parenthood: Women's and Men's Meanings, Expectations, and Idea(l)s in Canada

Kaysi Eastlick Kushner, Nicole Pitre, Deanna Lynn Williamson, Rhonda Breitkreuz, Gwen Rempel

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

    17 Citations (Scopus)


    The study purpose was to explicate meanings, expectations, and contexts of parenting as women and men prepared to become parents for the first time. We used a prospective, qualitative study design informed by symbolic interactionist and critical feminist perspectives. In-depth interviews were conducted during pregnancy with 21 expectant mothers and 18 expectant fathers, including 18 couples reflecting socioeconomic and cultural diversity in a western Canadian city. We identified a main theme of life-altering and all-consuming responsibility that conveyed participants' meanings of being a parent and included subthemes: shared or individual responsibility, status change, partial knowing, and reorienting. Participants initiated the reproduction of gendered sociocultural ideals of parenthood before the birth of their infant. Dominant social discourses and ideals shaped their meanings and expectations, ultimately constraining the alternatives they envisioned for themselves as they prepared to become parents.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-34
    Number of pages34
    JournalMarriage and Family Review
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jan. 2014


    • expectations
    • gender
    • men
    • parenthood
    • qualitative research
    • social ideology
    • women


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