Volume 93, Issue 70

Thursday, February 3, 1999


USC grills hopefulls

Mystery liquid causes concern

Access 2000 starts off with a bang

Study finds more stress in unmarried moms

Passion motivates Petrykowski's campaign

Sense of community tops Pressey's prez list



Study finds more stress in unmarried moms

By Heather Buchan
Gazette Staff

A study conducted by Western professors has confirmed the myth that single mothers are under more pressure than their married equivalents.

Research on the stress levels of single mothers was conducted by a team of Western professors over a five year period, said study leader Bill Avison, a sociology professor and director of Western's Centre for Health and Well-Being.

Avison said the team randomly interviewed 500 single mothers in London and then drew comparisons by interviewing the same number of married women. "The study found that single mothers are at an elevated level of stress," he said.

Single mothers are exposed to the pressure of being the primary wage earner and child care giver, Avison said. He added they are not any less resilient than married mothers to stress – they just have to cope with a lot more of it.

He defined the burdens which face single mothers as "role overload," which he said is the dual responsibility some women are forced to take on. There are also a number of financial stressors – household incomes in a single parent family can have a large affect on stress levels, Avison added.

Stephanie Wagman, former president of the Association of Parent Support Groups in Ontario Inc., said she agreed with the study. Single mothers are forced to bear all the responsibility, she said.

Although the study did not discuss any advantages associated with being a single parent, Wagman, who is a single parent herself, said she found an advantage to raising a child on her own. "Parents who are together go through many disputes due to opposing views, whereas single parents don't have to conflict with anyone," she said.

However, Avison said it is much more stressful to have to make decisions without the benefit of a partner. "In two parent families, decisions get to be shared and discussed," he added.

The study was funded by Health Canada's National Health and Research Development Program said Jeff Pender, a media relations officer for the program. Although he would not disclose details, Pender said after a full review by a panel of peers the proposal was deemed to be important and relevant enough to fund.

According to the study, policies must be introduced to relieve the strain on single mothers and businesses must take into account the needs of parents and families, Avison said.

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