Selected determinants of parenting behaviors in single and dual-parent families
Manley, Derrill Byrne
This study compared mothers of adolescent children from single-parent and dual-parent families in terms of their parenting styles and also on factors which may influence parenting (parents' personal resources, social support, and adolescent behaviors) . The data came from questionnaires completed by a sample of mothers recruited primarily through contacts with church groups in the West Texas area. Based upon several models of parenting, parenting style was conceptualized as involving two key dimensions: (a) separating (encouraging adolescent independence, and (b) connecting (maintaining positive affective relationships with the adolescent), Each of these dimensions was measured by three scales derived from factor analyses of items from existing measures of parenting and family environment. There were no significant differences between the single and dual parent groups of mothers on the measures of social support, parental competency, and adolescent behaviors, nor on five of the six parenting scales. As expected, single-parent mothers did have significantly lower incomes than did dual-parent mothers. In addition, single-parent mothers reported a higher level of expressiveness among family members than did dual-parent mothers. Comparisons of the relationships between these variables for each group revealed that the patterns were quite similar for mothers from single and dual-parent families. For both groups, perceived parental competency, parental enthusiasm, coping style and adolescent behaviors were significantly related to parenting behaviors which emphasized verbal praise and connecting positively with adolescents, and with parenting behaviors which allowed adolescent separateness (low emotional and verbal parental control). Contrary to some previous research, the results of this study indicate that single-parent mothers are equivalent to mothers in dual-parent families with respect to their feelings of parental competency, enthusiasm for parenting coping style, social support, and most parenting behaviors. Further, patterns of relationships between these variables are comparable for the two groups. Implications for the development of children with single-parent families and for future research are discussed.