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Study finds that single mothers can reduce stress by playing, engaging with children
Date:6/19/2012

MANHATTAN, KAN. -- A group of three Kansas State University researchers is studying ways to help single mothers improve their relationship with their children.

Among many of their findings, they have discovered that single mothers who engage with children in daily activities -- such as reading stories or playing games -- may experience lower levels of stress.

The researchers -- Blake Berryhill, Tulsa, Okla.; Kristy Soloski, Parma, Ohio; and Rebekah Adams, Ripon, Calif. -- are all doctoral students in marriage and family therapy and work with the K-State Family Center.

About 41 percent of births in the United States are to unwed mothers, Berryhill said, and it has been shown that single mothers often have higher levels of parental stress than married mothers. Parental stress involves the difficulty that a mother can experience from the demands of being a parent.

"Single mothers can feel constantly overloaded and overwhelmed at being a parent and trying to fulfill all of their responsibilities," Berryhill said. "Being a single mother brings extra stress, because they have decreased economic resources, longer work hours and their social support network may be limited as well. Because of all of this, they can feel the constant stress of 'how am I doing in my role as a mother?'"

The researchers wanted to develop ways to help single mothers by better understanding the relationship between parental stress, parental engagement and child temperament. Parental engagement involves spending time with a child through daily activities, such as reading stories, playing games or putting their child to bed. Child temperament involves a mother's perception of the child, such as viewing the child as someone who cries a lot, is fussy or gets upset easily.

The researchers used a national set of data related to single mothers and studied parental stress, parental engagement and child temperament when the children were ages 1, 3 a
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Contact: Blake Berryhill
mbberryh@k-state.edu
Kansas State University
Source:Eurekalert

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