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Palgrave Macmillan

Couples’ Transitions to Parenthood

Gender, Intimacy and Equality

  • Book
  • © 2021


  • Provides original empirical evidence around couple relationships in an era of intensive parenting
  • Makes a much-needed contribution to the field of Parenting Culture Studies
  • Points to some of the unrealistic pressures placed on parents in raising the next generation

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About this book

This book argues that new parents are caught in an uncomfortable crossfire between two competing discourses: those around ideal relationships and those around ideal parenting. The author suggests that parents are pressured to be equal partners while also being asked to parent their children intensively, in ways markedly more demanding of mothers. Reconciling these ideals has the potential to create resentment and disappointment. Drawing on research with couples in London as they became parents, the book points to the social pressures at play in raising the next generation at material, physiological and cultural levels. Chapters explore these levels through concrete practices: birth, feeding and sleeping—three of the most highly moralised areas of contemporary parenting culture. 

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Table of contents (7 chapters)

  1. Part I

  2. Part II


“'So then, what is equality in this instance?' asks a mother-to-be in Faircloth's incisive study of shifts in the couple dynamic once a baby arrives. This question is at the heart of her book. In addressing it, Faircloth combines her own acute analysis with illuminating reflections from parents themselves, casting fresh light on how couples navigate the highly gendered experience of early parenthood and what it means for their relationship.”—Rebecca Asher, Author of Shattered: Modern Motherhood and the Illusion of Equality (2011)

"A sensitive analysis that shines a light on the acute difficulties in translating the ideals of parenting equality into reality.”
Esther Dermott, Professor and Head of School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol, UK, and author of Intimate Fatherhood (2008)

Authors and Affiliations

  • University College London, London, UK

    Charlotte Faircloth

About the author

Charlotte Faircloth is Associate Professor of Social Science in the UCL Social Research Institute, UK. Her work focuses on parenting, gender and reproduction using qualitative and cross-cultural methodologies from sociological and anthropological perspectives. Her research has explored infant feeding, couple relationships, intergenerational relations and the impact of COVID-19 on family life.

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