Parenting stress and behavior among single mothers of preschoolers: The mediating role of self‐efficacy

Aurora P. Jackson, Chien C. Huang

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65 Scopus citations


This study examines the role of perceived self‐efficacy in mediating relations between mothers’ parenting behavior and variables such as maternal employment status, depressive symptoms, parenting stress, and child behavior problems. Subjects were 93 employed and 95 nonemployed, single, black mothers of a 3–5‐year‐old child who were current and former welfare recipients. Using linear structural relations modeling (LISREL), the findings support a model whereby (a) the more behavior problems the child is perceived to have, the more depressive symptoms the mother feels; (b) the more depressive symptoms the mother feels, the more likely she is to rate herself high in parenting stress; (c) the more depressive symptoms and parenting stress the mother experiences, the lower is the mother's estimate of her self‐efficacy; and (d) the lower the mother's self‐efficacy, the less competent is her parenting. The findings for employment status are similar; i.e., maternal employment predicted a trajectory leading to somewhat better parenting. In addition, child behavior problems were associated with less competent parenting both directly and indirectly through their effect on parenting stress and self‐efficacy. These results suggest that self‐efficacy has import as a mediator of the relations between maternal parenting and other psychosocial variables. There is no evidence, based on these findings, that employment in the low‐wage market is harmful either for single black mothers or their preschool children. However, job availability and an increase in the minimum wage are important policy considerations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-42
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Social Service Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2000
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


  • Child behavior problems
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Maternal employment
  • Parenting
  • Parenting stress
  • Self‐efficacy
  • Single mothers


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