Master of Arts (MA)
Faculty of Science
Seventy-six single mothers between the ages of 15 and 22 were studied to determine the relationship between stress and social support and to determine their service needs. Of these 76 individuals, 19 were chosen to participate in a Home Visit Program (a self-help support program), while 21 were chosen to act as a control group for the evaluation of the program. It was hypothesized that for the total sample an inverse relationship between stress and support would be found (as support increases, stress decreases). Our findings partially supported this hypothesis. Individuals having high scores for Family Support tended to have low scores on the External Stress scale. The items on this scale reflected primarily external stressors such as the parents’ control over the respondent. Individuals having high Total Support scores (includes support of Family, Friends, and Professionals), tended to have low scores on the Internal Stress scale. This scale focuses primarily on emotional stress such as feelings of self-worth. The second hypothesis focused on an evaluation of the self-help program. It was predicted that participants in the program would experience an increase in support and a decrease in stress while non-participants would report no changes in stress or support during the same time period. Again, our results partially supported the hypothesis. Program participants did experience a significant increase in support while there was no change for the non-participants. Both participants and non-participants reported no significant change in feelings of stress at the end of the program. Of the participants, 92.8% were moderately satisfied to very satisfied with the program and 100% of the participants felt it should be continued. The final objective of this study was to define the needs of young single mothers and to make program recommendations. It was found that Social/Recreational programs had the highest priority for the respondents followed by How-to-Parent classes and Classes on How To Protect Your Rights. As well, 46.4% of all members of the experimental and control groups preferred to speak to single mothers rather than professionals about their problems. It was recommended that more emphasis be placed on the social/supportive aspects of programs for young mothers rather than simply on job-search and career training. As well, it was recommended that the self-help orientation to groups should be used wherever possible both for the benefit of the young mothers (increased independence, peer support and understanding) and the agency (less time spent on professional assistance).
Henninger, Christina, "Social support, stress, and young unwed mothers' ability to cope effectively with parenthood" (1982). Theses and Dissertations (Comprehensive). 502.