There is growing interest in what helps parents maintain good parenting when they encounter stressors. The United States has the world’s highest rate of single-parent households. These families often experience higher adversity and, in turn, mental distress. Supportive relationships are widely recognized as indispensable for healthy psychological well-being; however, the sources of support have often not been differentiated in research. The present study investigated the relative roles of family support and friend support in predicting single mothers’ internalizing symptoms and parenting support. The sample included 200 single mothers from a Mid- west state recruited during Fall 2019. Hierarchical linear regressions found both family and friend support predicted more parenting support, whereas only friend support predicted fewer internalizing symptoms. In addition, family and friend support interacted in predicting internalizing symptoms. When friend support was high/sufficient, family support could augment friends’ positive impact on single mothers’ mental health. Latent profile analysis identified four profiles: kinship network, friendship network, socially isolated, and widely connected. The widely connected profile had the most optimal outcome. Both socially isolated and kinship network profiles were presented with unique risks. Taken together, our findings underscored the importance of friend support and the potential risk of only accessing family support. Implications for social support interventions for single mothers are discussed.
Single mothers, mental health, friend social support, family social support, person-centered analysis
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