The decision to have a child has never appeared more individualized and conscious than today, in early twenty-first century Europe. While fewer couples opt for parenthood altogether, those who do often plan this transition carefully, deliberating early-on when to start a family and how to raise their child. Starting from the question ‘How do couples in diverse national contexts resist or embrace the various competing institutional and normative framings of parenthood?’ this chapter presents the theoretical and analytical framework used in this book to assess transitions to parenthood in eight European countries. It locates couples’ planned and realized work-care divisions in the wider context of national institutions, such as national family policies, day-care provision and gender ideologies. The chapter expands on the concept of policy-culture gaps as a tool to analyse couples’ experiences of early parenthood under varying degrees of fit between national family policies and dominant gender culture.