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FSD2548 Well-being of Finnish Multiple Birth Families 2009

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Authors

  • Hyväluoma, Johanna (University of Jyväskylä. Family Research Centre)
  • Jokinen, Kimmo (University of Jyväskylä. Family Research Centre)
  • Malinen, Kaisa (University of Jyväskylä. Family Research Centre)

Keywords

child day care, children, everyday life, family life, household budgets, housework, multiple births, occupational life, parental role, partnerships (personal), social networks, social support

Abstract

The survey studied the well-being and financial situation of multiple birth families in Finland. Multiple birth families have one or two pairs of twins, triplets (or quadruplets etc).

First, satisfaction with dwelling size, dwelling amenities and housing costs was surveyed. Further questions covered family composition (who lives in the family; ages, birth weight, gender etc of children) and the biological parents of the multiples. The respondents were asked to state for each child whether a number of statements presented were compatible with the child. The statements pertained to sleep, loneliness, satisfaction with life, communication with parents, diet, taking exercise, and obedience. Some questions focused on delivery time (time of birth in pregnancy weeks) for multiples and whether the family had encountered changes such as serious illness and death.

Next theme explored work-life balance of the adults in the family. Questions covered type of job contract, working time, occupational status, and time spent away from work on parental benefits. A set of statements studied balancing work and family. The respondents were also asked whether they had been forced to do sacrifices for the sake of their family (give up education opportunities, a job etc.) or for the sake of the job (not stay home to take care of sick child, not attend a family event etc). Opinions on what family policy measures would have helped them to balance work and life were surveyed. Measures mentioned included reduced working hours, longer parental leave, flexible child day care, higher benefit levels, flexible working arrangements etc.

Financial situation was charted with questions about household income, household debts, and additional costs caused by the multiples. The respondents were also asked whether the family could afford own room or a mobile phone for each child, weekly pocket-money, fee-based hobbies, visits to private doctor, a computer for children, and whether family finances had forced them to give up travel, cut down on children's hobbies, save on food etc. One question explored how much money a month the family had after paying essential living expenses.

One theme pertained to couple relationship. The respondents were asked whether having multiples had had an impact on their couple relationship, what factors had put strain on or had strengthened the relationship, how often they and their partner disagreed on some matters (e.g. sex, religion, important decisions, parenthood, money, housework). Various other questions charted the state of the relationship.

How well the respondents managed their everyday life was studied by asking the respondents how often they felt pain, sad, happy, anxious, balanced, and so on, and whether they had lately felt stressed and why. They were also asked what aspect of their life (work, spending time with children, couple relationship, housework, leisure time) they neglected when stressed. Views were probed on what had been the most challenging and rewarding times for the family (in relation to the age of the multiples) and why.

The survey also covered the respondents' social networks for receiving practical help or advice. The first set of questions focused on people close to respondents and the second on support from public services. Reasons for seeking help from maternity clinics or child help clinics were also investigated, likewise what kind of help had been needed at what age of the multiples. Further questions charted participation in the activities of multiple birth associations, choices for and satisfaction with child day care and school arrangements.

Background variables included the respondent's gender, age, marital status, occupational status and economic activity, type of neighbourhood, and housing tenure.

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