Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Dual-career couples are increasingly becoming the norm in society, and for these couples experiencing first-time parenthood, having been raised in a world of stay-at-home mothers and breadwinning dads, the decisions for how to manage childcare and career choices can be challenging. This qualitative study was undertaken to explore the question, "What are the experiences of couples in dual-career partnerships as they approach the birth of a first child?" Twelve partnered, first-time parents were asked a series of questions about their experiences with their partners, families and work environments as they navigated choices related to careers and childcare. Participant narratives revealed the decision-making process for managing careers and childcare in first-time parenthood was shaped by gender role expectations of oneself and others, ability to communicate one's own needs and levels of discussion within each couple, and the availability of good support systems in the form of friends, co-workers, family, institutional policies and supervisors' support for family life. Significant findings in the study include that all the participants except for one male reported struggles with gender role expectations and that all of the participants who were in academia reported significant struggle with balancing family and work life. Through responses of parents in the study on what they felt contributed to their satisfaction or what would have helped them to feel better throughout the process, recommendations and best practices are presented for clinical social workers and dual-career couples.


iii, 106 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2007. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 95-96).