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Mothers on Social Assistance: Poverty, Resilience and Parenting

Although prior research showed that poverty is related to less optimal child outcomes, how the duration of poverty and parental psychological resilience affect the parenting quality is less well understood. To help fill this gap, we used data from a survey of mothers on social assistance in the Dutch city of Rotterdam. In this study two groups of mothers were distinguished: those who were on social assistance for over five years and those less than a year. We tested two hypotheses: 1) long-term poor mothers show more negative forms of parenting than mothers who are only recently on social assistance, 2) mothers with limited psychological capital show more negative forms of parenting. Female research assistants interviewed 111 mothers at home and mothers filled in questionnaires on parenting and psychological resilience (coping style, mastery and self-esteem). Contrary to expectation, poverty duration appeared not to affect quality of parenting. Maternal psychological capital or resilience ‐ was related to parenting, but only with positive forms of parenting (support and positive control) and not with negative parenting (negative control). Negative parenting was more related to the ethnic background of mothers. A practical implication of our study is to offer parents on social assistance support to strengthen their psychological resilience.
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Keywords: coping behaviour; parenting quality; poverty; psychological resilience; social assistance

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Fred Reelick is psycholoog en was ten tijde van het onderzoek verbonden aan de afdeling Onderzoek & Business Intelligence (OBI) van de gemeente Rotterdam., Email: [email protected] 2: Erik Snel is als socioloog verbonden aan de Afdeling Sociologie van de Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam (EUR)., Email: Correspondentieadres: [email protected] 3: Monique van Londen is als psycholoog verbonden aan het Departement Educatie en Pedagogiek van de Universiteit Utrecht (UU).1

Publication date: September 1, 2014

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