Family Characteristics and Transitions Following the Birth of a Second Child
Hampson, Elizabeth G.
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Many disruptions of routine family life are encountered by family members with the addition of a second child. Due to the unexpected stress that is experienced with this transition, changes in parent-child attachment behaviors, increased marital conflict, socioemotional development shifts in the firstborn, and parental depression are all common. The present study was designed from a family systems perspective to longitudinally examine the transition to siblinghood along with the interrelation of family characteristics as they change. Two-hundred families expecting the birth of a second child were examined over the course of 13 months, beginning in the mother's final trimester of pregnancy through the newborn's first 12-13 months of life, using extensive observations, in depth family interviews and self-reports. It is hypothesized that the addition of a fourth family member will cause irreversible transformations of family dynamics, making the adjustment particularly stressful for the firstborn. A second hypothesis is that each family member will, over time, adapt to this transition, creating a new, functional family system.