Black, Single, Working Mothers in Poverty: Preferences for Employment, Well-being, and Perceptions of Preschool-Age Children

Jackson, Aurora P.
January 1993
Social Work;Jan93, Vol. 38 Issue 1, p26
Academic Journal
Poor, single, black mothers have been largely excluded from research on the impact of maternal employment. This study examined the relationship between employment preferences and well-being in a sample of 111 black, single, employed mothers with a three- or four-year-old child and low income. Two competing views of multiple role occupancy were explored, using data from structured interviews in which mothers completed a questionnaire about role strain, life satisfaction, depression, and perceptions of children. Findings revealed that mothers whose employment status was consistent with their preference were lower in role strain and higher in overall life satisfaction. Having no education beyond high school and a male child predicted significantly higher strain, greater depressive symptomatology, and the least favorable perceptions of children. Overall, results suggest that parenting boys may be especially stressful for black single mothers balancing work and family roles in poverty, particularly when low education is also a factor. Implications for policy are considered in light of the Family Support Act of 1988.


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