Master of Arts (MA)
Faculty of Science
Fifty separated and divorced single-parent women with heterogeneous demographic characteristics participated in research designed to provide both a theoretical framework and a data base for the study of the single-parent woman.
The theoretical framework of self-perceived comfort was assessed with the use of a Comfort Survey designed by the researcher. A factor analysis of the scale revealed that comfort in this role was most related to the parental role and support for personal and family problems and was least related to financial considerations.
A discriminant analysis yielded information regarding how attitudes toward sex-roles and a variety of personality and demographic characteristics contributed toward comfort when women were categorized as belonging to either a High, Medium, or Low Comfort group according to their scores on the Comfort Survey. It was shown that two personal characteristics, attitudes toward the sex-roles and anxiety, and two demographic characteristics, age and education, were the most important predictors of comfort. In addition, 11 independent variables selected for the discriminant analysis predicted group membership on the dimension of comfort with a 78& accuracy. Using the information on the 11 variables along with the information from the Comfort Survey, detailed profiles were generated describing the characteristics of the single-parent woman. The highlights of the profiles were that the High Comfort women were those who had more liberated attitudes toward the sex-roles and those women in the Medium Comfort group had higher income levels than the women in the other groups. In light of the inordinate preoccupation in the literature with the well-being of the children of single-parent families along with the tendency to focus upon the weaknesses of this family style, it is to be noted that all three groups of women were comfortable with their roles as parents.
Additional information about the sample as a whole, without regard to comfort, was provided by examining a broader range of attitudinal, personality, and demographic variables. Also, a biographical questionnaire yielded data pertaining to the prior marriage, the transition period between the marriage and single parenthood, and the current period of single parenthood. Overall, this information very clearly contradicted the existing negative stereotype of the single-parent woman and her family. Informal group discussions with the women provided information concerning both the utility of the resources used by the women and their perceptions of the strengths and weaknesses of being single parents.
The research provided a valuable framework within which to study single parenthood as well as lending a greater insight into the single-parent woman as both mother and woman. Its greatest contribution, however, was in creating a far more propitious picture of the single-parent woman and by implication, the semi-parent family, entirely the antithesis of that which currently exists.
Thompson, Catherine Margaret, "Single-Parent Women" (1979). Theses and Dissertations (Comprehensive). 1397.