Title. Parenting self-efficacy after childbirth.
Aim. This paper is a report of study of parent, infant and environmental correlates of mothers’ and fathers’ perceptions of their parenting self-efficacy.
Background. Many parents are not confident in their ability to be good parents. Parenting self-efficacy is important for parents’ sense of well-being, is a possible predictor of parenting practices and might be an indicator of risk. However, very little evidence exists on factors that influence fathers’ perceptions of parenting, or comparisons between the parents.
Methods. The data were collected by questionnaire in 2006–2007 in two hospitals with a convenience sample of Finnish-speaking parents (N = 1300 families) during the first postpartum week. Multiple-birth and early-discharge parents were excluded. The response rate for mothers was 66% (n = 863) and for fathers 40% (n = 525). Comparisons were made by percentages and means. Statistical significance was determined by Generalized Estimating Equations models and one-way anova. Pearson’s and Spearman′s correlation coefficients were used to determine correlations, and multiple regression analysis to clarify the effect size.
Results. Mothers scored higher than fathers on parenting self-efficacy. Parity, self-concept, depressive symptoms and state of mind on discharge contributed to parenting self-efficacy. Experiences of childbirth and life change correlated with mothers’, but not with fathers’, parenting self-efficacy. Perceptions of infant, family functioning, health and advice from personnel were major contributory factors.
Conclusion. Assessments of parenting self-efficacy are recommended to identify at-risk groups and at-risk parents. More research is recommended to look into the effect of rooming-in, feeding practices, fathers’ presence and social support from personnel and parenting self-efficacy and to evaluate risk scales for at-risk parents. Parent attributes had a greater effect on mothers’ parenting self-efficacy, while environmental attributes had a greater effect on fathers’ parenting self-efficacy. At-risk parents can be supported by conducting face-to-face discussions about significant topics.