Mothers' views at the transition to a new baby: Variation across ethnic groups

Catherine S. Tamis-LeMonda, Ronit Kahana-Kalman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective. The goals of this study were to describe ethnic variation in new mothers' hopes, concerns, and expectations for their families and infants over the upcoming year. We also sought to understand demographic factors that might explain variation in these views. Design. We interviewed 369 low-income, urban, African American, Mexican immigrant, Dominican immigrant, and Chinese immigrant mothers in maternity wards hours after the births of their babies. Mothers' views were assessed using open-ended questions, and their responses were coded into four main categories: Child Development, Parenting, Family, and Resources. Mothers also provided basic demographic information, including, education, work status, marital status, and father residency. Results. Mothers from the four ethnic groups varied in how much they spoke about Child Development, Family, and Resources, with no differences in emphasis on Parenting. Relative to the other groups, Chinese immigrant mothers talked more about Child Development; African American and Dominican immigrant mothers talked about Resources; and Mexican immigrant mothers spoke most about Family. Child birth order, mothers' education, and father residency related to mothers' views, and ethnicity moderated a number of these associations. Conclusions. Mothers from different ethnic groups enter parenthood with different views that reflect both cultural emphases and the broader context of their lives. Parenting views at the transition to a new infant may have implications for later parenting adjustment, and practitioners who work with mothers and families should attend to variation among mothers in what is most salient to them at the birth of their infants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36-55
Number of pages20
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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