The Effect of the Loss of One’s Own Parent on the Change in Personal Growth During the Transition to Parenthood: An Individual Growth Curve Model

Ofir Ben-Yaakov, Orit Taubman Ben-Ari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The study aimed to identify contributors to the trajectory of personal growth (PG) during the transition to parenthood against the background of a critical life event that occurred previously, namely, losing a parent. The study examined the contributions of the loss of one’s own parent, the bond with one’s parents in childhood, current parental distress (PD), and demographic variables to changes in the PG of adults when they themselves become parents. New Israeli parents completed self-report questionnaires in three phases: (a) up to 1 year following the birth of their first child (n = 2,182), (b) 6 months later (n = 1,045), (c) after another 6 months (n = 811). Our key findings showed that parental loss was not directly associated with changes in PG, but changes in PD mediated the associations between both loss and parental bonding on the one hand and the changes in PG on the other. Increase in PG levels over time was associated with being a woman, lower level of education and economic status, higher perceived paternal care, and higher maternal overprotection in childhood and decrease in PD. The present study extends knowledge of PG during the transition to parenthood, indicating that it may be shaped by changes in PD levels and the relationships with one’s own parents. On the practical level, understanding the consequences for the trajectory of PG of having lost a parent and the nature of their bonding with their parents in childhood can help professionals design appropriate interventions for new parents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-88
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Orthopsychiatry
Volume94
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Global Alliance for Behavioral Health and Social Justice

Keywords

  • parental bond
  • parental distress
  • parental loss
  • personal growth
  • transition to parenthood

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