Making It: A Qualitative Study of Resilience Among Single Mothers Raising Daughters in Risky Neighborhoods
Brodsky, Anne E.
Lorion, Raymond P.
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Most prior research has identified only pitfalls for urban, low-income, African American, single mothers. This qualitative study focused on resilient single mothers and using semi-structured interviews allowed participants to define and describe their own experiences, both stresses and strategies for coping. Ten women who had been single mothers for at least two years were identified as resilient by school-based key informants and participated in two hour-long individual interviews. The risky neighborhoods in which these women live are urban neighborhoods characterized by poverty, violence, crime and drugs. A literature review and focus group were utilized to develop initial interview topics and coding formats. Interviews were taped and transcribed, and coded using an open-ended recursive template. Participants described a unique balance of both the stresses and resources existing in eight dimensions in their lives: self-attributes, role as parent, family, friends, male significant others, money, spirituality, and their neighborhood. Each participant had a balance based on a unique person-environment fit. Resilience or "making it" was found to involve both the attainment of goals and the constant process of reaching further. Participants were able to both appreciate their current status and were motivated to strive for more. The findings reported present a more heterogeneous and emic picture of urban, low-income, African American, single mothers, shed light on the processes of resilience, and also have implications for the design and implementation of intervention to support further successes among other women in similar situations.