STRESS AND COPING STRATEGIES OF PUERTO RICAN SINGLE MOTHERS

DORIS ESTHER CORREA CAPELLO, Fordham University

Abstract

This is a study of the ways in which Puerto Rican women cope with the financial and parental stress associated with being single mothers. It explores the extent to which use of support systems mitigates the stress they experience. Cultural forces that have impeded or enhanced their roles as single mothers are examined. A central hypothesis is that Puerto Rican single mothers who make more use of their support systems will be better able to cope with the stress they experience in the financial and parental areas.^ Using a standardized instrument, 36 Puerto Rican women who met the study criteria of single mother and head of household were interviewed.^ Data collected include demographic data, labor force participation, information on the family's economic situation, areas of parental concern or worry, social support systems, and questions on cultural values and traditions. The Social Readjustment Scale measured respondents' general stress levels.^ The data analysis revealed that the majority (75%) of the women had high levels of financial stress. They reported lower income because of their dependence on minimal welfare benefits and, for working mothers, their concentration in low paying jobs.^ The degree of stress in parenting was not reported to be as severe as that in finances. The stress levels in this area were tempered by a sense of mastery and self pride. Their socialization in Puerto Rican homes blunted the stress they may have felt doing it all alone. The data on general stress show that within the last two years there has been an increase in general stress among this group of women.^ A variety of coping strategies were used by these women to manage the financial, parental, and general stress they experienced. Two coping patterns emerged among the study sample. The adaptive pattern consisted of cognitive, social and physical strategies women used to handle stressful situations. To a lesser degree, women used nonadaptive strategies that were ineffective in bringing about a resolution to their problems. The most successful coping involved greater reliance on family and friends. Utilization of community agencies, especially welfare and daycare services, were also instrumental in helping women cope with stress. (Abstract shortened with permission of author.) ^

Subject Area

Social work

Recommended Citation

CORREA CAPELLO, DORIS ESTHER, "STRESS AND COPING STRATEGIES OF PUERTO RICAN SINGLE MOTHERS" (1986). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8718370.
https://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8718370

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