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Unemployment and Work Interruption among African American Single Mothers: Effects on Parenting and Adolescent Socioemotional Functioning

Vonnie C. McLoyd, Toby Epstein Jayaratne, Rosario Ceballo and Julio Borquez
Child Development
Vol. 65, No. 2, Children and Poverty (Apr., 1994), pp. 562-589
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Society for Research in Child Development
DOI: 10.2307/1131402
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1131402
Page Count: 28
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Unemployment and Work Interruption among African American Single Mothers: Effects on Parenting and Adolescent Socioemotional Functioning
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Abstract

Using interview data from a sample of 241 single African American mothers and their seventh- and eighth-grade children, this study tests a model of how 2 economic stressors, maternal unemployment and work interruption, influence adolescent socioemotional functioning. In general, these economic stressors affected adolescent socioemotional functioning indirectly, rather than directly, through their impact on mothers' psychological functioning and, in turn, parenting behavior and mother-child relations. Current unemployment, but not past work interruption, had a direct effect on depressive symptomatology in mothers. As expected, depressive symptomatology in mothers predicted more frequent maternal punishment of adolescents, and this relation was fully mediated by mothers' negative perceptions of the maternal role. More frequent maternal punishment was associated with increased cognitive distress and depressive symptoms in adolescents, and consistent with predictions, these relations were partially mediated by adolescents' perceptions of the quality of relations with their mothers. Increased availability of instrumental support, as perceived by mothers, predicted fewer depressive symptoms in mothers, less punishment of adolescents, and less negativity about the maternal role. Both economic stressors were associated with higher levels of perceived financial strain in mothers, which in turn predicted adolescents' perceptions of economic hardship. Adolescents who perceived their families as experiencing more severe economic hardship reported higher anxiety, more cognitive distress, and lower self-esteem.

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