Clinical Psychology 8 (2015), 2, 139-150

Original scientific paper

Family Relationships and Psychosocial Adjustment of Children in Intact and Single-Parent Families

Andreja Brajša-Žganec - Institute for Social Sciences Ivo Pilar, Zagreb
Ivana Hanzec - Faculty of Croatian Studies, University of Zagreb, Zagreb

Fulltext (croatian, pages 139-150).pdf

Modern family structure differs from the traditional concept of the family system; more and more children are growing up with a single parent. In this study, we wanted to examine social behaviour and somatic problems of preschool children depending on their family’s structure (single-mother family or intact family), as well as children’s gender and age. In addition to family structure, child development also depends on the relationships within the family; therefore, we examined the possible differences between single mothers and mothers from intact families with regard to their estimations of family cohesion, satisfaction with family functioning and dimensions of meta-emotions. The participants were 73 married and 72 single-mothers of preschool children (78 boys and 67 girls, mean age of 4.9 years), and the children’s teachers. Mothers completed the Family Cohesion Scale, The Family APGAR, the Parental Meta-Emotion Structure Questionnaire and The CBCL Somatic Complaints scale, and the teachers completed the PROS/AG. The results showed no significant differences in somatic complaints of children living in single-mother and intact families, regardless of the children’s gender and age. Differences in aggressive behaviour depended only on the child’s gender, with boys being more aggressive than girls, regardless of age and family structure. Prosocial behaviour did not differ between boys and girls, but older children and children in single-mother families were estimated as being more prosocial. Single and married mothers did not significantly differ in the perception of their family’s cohesion, satisfaction with different aspects of family functioning or meta-emotion dimensions. The results are discussed in the context of society’s changing attitude toward single mothers, and in the direction of the role and importance of one adult involved in the child’s daily life.

family structure, family relationships, child psychosocial adjustment, single- parent families, mothers

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