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Welcome and Overview:

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The Work and Family Transitions Project (WFTP) is a longitudinal study that focuses on new parents' mental health across the transition to parenthood, with particular attention to the ways in which work conditions and socio-cultural factors, like social class, race, and ethnicity, shape parents' well-being and family relationships.   This 10 year ongoing project is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (R01-MH56777).

The original study which began in 1996, entitled "Working-Class Women: Negotiating Jobs and Parenthood (WFTP #1)", examined how the transition to parenthood coupled with the return of mothers to full-time employment within six months of their child's birth affected the mental health and marital relationships of working women and their husbands.   We interviewed 153 couples five times across the transition to parenthood to examine changes in mental health and family life across the first year.

The second project, which is currently underway, entitled "New Parents' Mental Health in Socio-cultural Context" (WFTP #2) follows the original sample of 153 families as their oldest child enters the first grade.   Thus, we have the opportunity to explore the long term implications of the transition to parenthood on both parents' and children's socio-emotional development.   In addition, we are collecting data on a new sample of single mothers from diverse racial and ethnic groups, namely African-American, Latino, and European American backgrounds, to examine how family structure and cultural characteristics may moderate work and family relationships across the transition to parenthood.

A broad aim of this research is to understand the bidirectional relationship between work life and family life and the implications of the work-family relationship for both parents' and children's well-being.   It is important to note that the interests of Maureen Perry-Jenkins, the grant's principal investigator, of Joyce Everett, the co-investigator, as well as the interests of the multitude of current and past graduate students who have worked on this project, are wide ranging.   Such interests include the effects of work on parents' mental health, racial and ethnic differences in women's depression, linkages between parenting styles and children's mental health and cognitive functioning, and the dynamics of children's sibling relationships.   The rich quantitative and qualitative data provided from parents, children, teachers, and secondary caregivers provide us a unique opportunity to delve into the varied and complex factors, both internal to the family, such as parenting, and marital relations, and external to the family, such as work conditions and social support, that shape the experiences and well-being of parents and their children.

Work and Family Transitions Project
Department of Psychology, Tobin Hall
University of Massachusetts, 135 Hicks Way
Amherst, MA 01003-9271
PH: (413) 577-0438; Toll Free: (888) 531-BABY
Fax: (413) 545-0996
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