The present work has, as a general objective, the observation of family interactions in different relational contexts, both from clinical and research perspectives. The importance of these interactive dynamics for the child development and well-being, and then for the future individual, has been described for a long time and thoroughly in the recent literature, that is increasingly improving our knowledge, considering new contexts and new family configurations that diverge from the “traditional” one.
The modern techniques of medically assisted procreation allowed a modification of the morphology of the family, enabling new family configurations where the biological bond between the child and parents is not obvious and where there can be more than two parents for the child.
The transition to parenthood is in itself a complex phenomenon whose complexity can increase in some situations, where the actors involved, their representations and interactions multiply, and where the social context cannot be excluded. Observing such complexity is always more important in order to know and understand the child development; furthermore it is extremely important doing it through observational methods of dynamic contexts that are able to discriminate interactive dysfunctional aspects regardless of the typology of the family.
This work concerned the observation of the moment of transition to parenthood both in “traditional” contexts with heteroparental families and in “non-traditional” contexts as the homoparental families.
In fact it was possible to meet families during the period of growth, at the moment from we as a couple they move on to we as a family. During these meetings families talk about themselves, allowing us to observe their transition, to listen their questions, their frustrations and preoccupations, happiness and successes.
The research about the child psychological development distanced from the entirely dyadic perspective that considered the mother-child relationship; international literature is unanimous expressing that the child’s well-being and individual well-being is strongly related to his/her primary relationships. Observing these moments in families not related to clinical services allow us to know what happens normally, so that we can help families in difficulty and if a specialist’s intervention is required.
The border area is also this one, between research and clinical practice.
This thesis is composed by a first part of analysis of the literature. In this area three themes are presented: the transition to parenthood; the coparenting, the family interactions. After this part, the fourth chapter introduces us to the second part of the thesis, in which the six studies that have composed the PhD work are presented.
In this part, the first five studies have been realized thanks to the voluntary participations of families. They presented themselves in University laboratories and they talked about themselves, their desires, their joy and their difficulties of parenthood. Thanks to their participation it was possible to observe the transition to parenthood from different point of view, in different specific moments and through different methods that range from a single case study to contrasted case, to group comparison.
The leitmotiv of these studies is the use of the Lausanne Trilogue Play paradigm, an extremely interesting instrument that allows to observe the parental intuitive competence and the coparenting alliance, in the prenatal version, so before the birth of the child and then after, in the post natal version that allows to include the third and to observe the triad at play and its family interactions.
The last work presented was realized in collaboration with Neuropsychiatry centre of ULSS 16 of Padua and concerns the application of such observational procedure in a clinical context, where it is possible to work on family interactions and on coparenthood, supporting the individual clinical work with children and adolescents.
To finalize the work, the third part collects the general discussion, limits and futher applications of the study.