African American Single Mothers: Social Networks, Parental Stress, And Self Esteem
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Type of WorkText
ProgramDoctor of Philosophy
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This study examined the relationships between four components of social network, parental stress, and self-esteem. The sample for this study consisted of 426 single African American mothers who participated in the third wave of the Welfare, Children, and Families (WCF) survey in 2005-2006. The overall research hypotheses were: (1) mothers' positive and (2) mothers' negative self-esteem would be significantly associated with the four components of social network and parental stress when the joint effects of other selected characteristics, namely income, employment, financial strain, financial help, education, age, and the number of children in household are taken into account. Bivariate statistical methods were used to explore the relationship between self-esteem and (1) four components of social network— someone to listen to problems, take care of children, do favors and loan money-, (2) parental stress, and (3) the other selected characteristics. General linear models were used to further explore the relationships between self-esteem and social network and parental stress when the joint effects of the other characteristics were taken into account. Bivariate analyses showed that mothers who had support for the four components of social network and who had experienced less parental stress had better positive self-esteem than their counterparts. Conversely, mothers who did not have this support and had more parental stress had poorer negative self-esteem. With respect to the other variables, mother's ability to access financial help from family members; mothers' income, employment and education were associated with both positive and negative self-esteem. In addition, access to help from a government agency and the number of children in the household were associated with positive and negative self-esteem, respectively. After the multivariate adjustment for the selected variables, parental stress remained significant for both positive and negative self-esteem. Two components of social network - someone to listen to problems and care for the children - remained significant for negative self-esteem. In conclusion, multivariate analyses delineated a clearer picture of the role of certain social supports and parental stress in improving the self-esteem of African American single mothers. Better self-esteem has an impact on the overall well-being of both mothers and their children. The findings from this study have implications for future social work policy, practice, and education.