Social support networks of single young mothersedit
This study explored the nature of social support networks of young, unmarried mothers. Interviews were conducted with 18 young, female African American residents at an agency for homeless, unmarried mothers in a Midwest city. Quantitative results indicated the mean number of people in the participants’ networks was 19; analysis found a moderately strong correlation between the size of the support network and perceived level of support. Themes that emerged from coding the transcribed, qualitative interviews included the tension between needing support and wanting independence, the motivation generated for young mothers through relationship with their own children, the mixed nature of support from the young mothers’ families, the affect of presence or absence of support from the child’s father, the role of the young mother’s own mother in her support system, the lack of supportive relationships among young mothers in the program, and impressions the young mothers had of formal agency services. The authors discuss implications for case management and agencies working with teen mothers.