Parents' childbearing motivations, parenting, and child adjustment: From pregnancy to 20-months postpartum

Reut Nachoum, Anat Moed, Nir Madjar, Yaniv Kanat-Maymon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Guided by Self-Determination Theory, the study explored how maternal and paternal prenatal childbearing motivations relate to toddlers' adjustment via parental competence and parenting style. Background: Although considerable research shows consistent effects of parenting styles on child adjustment, why some parents adopt any specific style is unclear. To explore this, two broad types of childbearing motivations (autonomous and controlled) were conceptualized as early markers of parental competence, specific parenting styles, and subsequent child adjustment. Method: One-hundred and fifty-five married, heterosexual, Israeli couples (N = 310) participated in a 2-year longitudinal study from pregnancy through 20 months postpartum. Childbearing motivations were measured during pregnancy (T1), parental competence at 4 months postpartum (T2), and parenting styles and child behavior problems at 20 months postpartum (T3). Results: A dyadic longitudinal path model revealed that childbearing motivations of both parents were positively associated with an adaptive, authoritative parenting style via parental competence. Moderate indirect effects of controlled childbearing motivations on toddlers' behavior problems were evident through the less adaptive—authoritarian and permissive—parenting styles. Conclusion: This study underscores the importance of childbearing motivations as early indicators of future parenting styles and child adjustment and sheds light on parenting as a complex dyadic process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)898-922
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Marriage and Family
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. Journal of Marriage and Family published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of National Council on Family Relations.


  • child development
  • couples
  • family processes
  • longitudinal research
  • parenting
  • pregnancy


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