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Low-Income Multigenerational Households: Variation in Family Functioning by Mothers’ Age Laura D. Pittman & Michelle K. Boswell INTRODUCTION Differences.

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Presentation on theme: "Low-Income Multigenerational Households: Variation in Family Functioning by Mothers’ Age Laura D. Pittman & Michelle K. Boswell INTRODUCTION Differences."— Presentation transcript:

1 Low-Income Multigenerational Households: Variation in Family Functioning by Mothers’ Age Laura D. Pittman & Michelle K. Boswell INTRODUCTION Differences in children’s well-being often have been examined based on parental marital status (e.g., Amato, 2005; Hetherington, et al, 1998) but fewer studies have considered other family forms. This paper focuses on mutigenerational households, where a grandparent coresides with a biological mother and her children, among a low-income, urban population. Previous research has suggested that children in multigenerational households do well in comparison to their peers (e.g., Barbarin & Soler, 1993; DeLeire & Kalil, 2002). However, this finding is less clear among families with adolescent mothers where the influence of living in a multigenerational household on children’s functioning has been mixed (e.g., Black & Nitz, 1995; Leadbeater & Bishop, 1994). Since younger mothers may still be adjusting to their own transition to adulthood, they may have more difficulty negotiating roles with their own parents and this may influence their parenting behaviors. Thus, this paper considers how residence in a multigenerational household may influence the functioning of the family, mother, and children. It was hypothesized that multigenerational households with younger mothers would display more problems than those with older mothers. METHOD Data from the Wave 1 caregiver interview of Welfare, Children, and Families: A Three-City Study, a random sample of children in low-income, urban neighborhoods with a child either age 0-4 or years of age were used families with a biological mother were included in these analyses Measures Household Economic Conditions: Income-to-Needs Ratio (i.e., a comparison of total household income and family size to the federal poverty threshold) Financial Strain Index (Coley & Chase-Lansdale, 2000) Mothers’ Psychological Health: 10-item Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (Rosenberg, 1986) 18-item short form of the Brief Symptom Inventory, which assesses symptoms of depression, somatization, and anxiety (Derogatis, 2000) Mothers’ Parenting: 6 items from the Family Routines Inventory (Jenson et al., 1983) 17 items from the Raising Children Checklist (Shumow et al., 1998), which assesses parenting practices Children’s Well-Being: Internalizing and externalizing problem behaviors subscales from the Child Behavior Checklist (Achenbach, 1991; 1992) 6 items from the Positive Behaviors Scale (Quint et al., 1997), which assesses child’s social competence Data Analysis T-test comparisons were made comparing measures based on whether the household was multigenerational or not Two sets of weighted OLS regressions were run Model 1: Child outcome = Covariates (i.e., child’s age group, sex and race; mothers’ marital status and education) + Mothers’ Age + Multigenerational Household (MGHH vs. not) Model 2: Child outcome = Model 1 + Mothers’ age x MGHH interaction REFERENCES Achenbach, T. M. (1991). Manual for the Child Behavior Checklist/4-18 and 1991 Profile. Burlington, VT: University of Vermont Department of Psychiatry. Achenbach, T. M. (1992). Manual for the Child Behavior Checklist/2-3 and 1992 Profile. Burlington, VT: University of Vermont Department of Psychiatry. Amato, P.R. (2005). The impact of family formation change on the cognitive, social, and emotional well-being of the next generation. Future of Children, 15(2), Barbarin, O. A., & Soler, R. E. (1993). Behavioral, emotional, and academic adjustment in a national probability sample of African American children: Effects of age, gender, and family structure. Journal of Black Psychology, 19, Black, M. M., & Nitz, K. (1995). Grandmother coresidence, parenting, and child development among low income, urban teen mothers. Journal of Adolescent Health, 16, 1-9. Coley, R. L., & Chase-Lansdale, P. L. (2000). Welfare receipt, financial strain, and African-American adolescent functioning. Social Service Review, 74, DeLeire, T., & Kalil, A. (2002). Good things come in threes: Single-parent multigenerational family structure and adolescent adjustment. Demography, 39, Derogatis, L. R. (2000). Brief Symptom Inventory 18. Administration, Scoring, and Procedures Manual. Minneapolis, MN: National Computer Systems. Hetherington, E. M., Bridges, M., & Insabella, G. M. (1998). What matters? What does not? Five perspectives on the association between marital transitions and children's adjustment. American Psychologist, 53, Jensen, E. W., James, S. A., Boyce, W. T., & Hartnett, S. A. (1983). The family routines inventory: Development and validation. Social Science & Medicine, 17, Leadbeater, B. J., & Bishop, S. J. (1994). Predictors of behavior problems in preschool children of inner-city Afro-American and Puerto Rican adolescent mothers. Child Development, 65, Quint, J. C., Bos, J. M., & Polit, D. E. (1997). New Chance: Final Report on a Comprehensive Program for Young Mothers in Poverty and Their Children. New York: Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation. Rosenberg, M. (1986). Society and the adolescent self-image. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Shumow, L., Vandell, D. L., & Posner, J. K. (1998). Harsh, firm, and permissive parenting in low-income families: Relations to children's academic achievement and behavioral adjustment. Journal of Family Issues, 19, RESULTS 22% of sample was in multigenerational households T-test analyses found few differences between households that were multigenerational versus not multigenerational households. The following were the only significant differences between groups (scores for multigenerational households presented first): Children’s age (mean of vs months, t= 2.28, p <.05) Mothers’ Age (mean of vs years, t = 5.11, p <.001) Children’s Internalizing Problem Behaviors (mean standardized score of.15 vs. -.10, t = -2.48, p <.05) Children’s Externalizing Problem Behaviors (mean standardized score of.09 vs. -.15, t = 2.25, p <.05) Regression Analyses Models for Household Financial Strain, Maternal Self-Esteem and Psychological Symptoms, and Child’s Externalizing Problem Behaviors are not presented, as the variables of interest were not significant. Standardized Betas are presented for ease of interpretation. * p <.05; ** p <.01; *** p <.001 SUMMARY OF RESULTS AND DISCUSSION In general, multigenerational households are similar to other households in terms of their economic well-being, maternal psychological health, and maternal parenting, but not in children’s functioning. Children appear to have more internalizing and externalizing problem behaviors when living in multigenerational households. Further understanding of why these households form would likely help explain why these differences exist. Furthermore, all multigenerational households are not alike. Mothers in multigenerational households who are younger compared to older appear to struggle more to provide effective parenting, including provision of stable family routines and warm and firm parenting. Children with young mothers appear to do worse in terms of social competence as well internalizing behaviors (trend level finding, graph not shown), when in multigenerational households, but no differences emerge among children with older mothers. The household economic conditions of those in non-multigenerational households was higher for older as compared to younger mothers, but no differences emerged by mothers’ age among those in multigenerational households. It may be that economic hardship is a primary reason for the formation of multigenerational households, regardless of the mothers’ age. Those working in clinical settings would serve their clients better by fully assessing family structure and considering its potential influence on parents’ and children’s functioning.


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