August 1995

Social Support of Inner-city Fathers and Mothers

Author Affiliations

From the Division of General Academic Pediatrics, Medical College of Ohio, Toledo (Dr Boehm); Division of General and Emergency Pediatrics, The Johns Hopkins Medical School, Baltimore, Md (Drs Duggan and Dinerman); and Division of Cardiology, University of Massachusetts, Worcester (Dr McGowan).

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1995;149(8):868-872. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1995.02170210042007

Objective:  To examine mutual support of inner-city parents and how it relates to the father's expected role as a parent.

Design:  Cross-sectional study.

Setting:  An urban teaching hospital in inner-city Baltimore, Md.

Patients or Other Participants:  Inner-city—dwelling parents whose neonates were born at an urban teaching hospital between March and May 1992.

Intervention:  Data were collected through structured independent interviews with each parent during the neonate's hospitalization.

Main Outcome Measures:  General social support was assessed by Sarason's Social Support Questionnaire. Paternal involvement was defined as the father's expected accessibility, engagement in child-rearing tasks, and decision-making responsibility during infancy.

Results:  Most mothers and fathers cited the other parent as a source of general support. Most believed that the other parent would help and would not hinder them in their role as parent. For mothers, the father's expected accessibility, engagement, and decision-making responsibility was positively correlated with his general support. For the fathers, expected accessibility was positively related to general support from the mother. As parents' mutual support increased, so did concordance in their expectations of the father's role.

Conclusions:  Many inner-city parents do rely on each other. Pediatricians can promote shared parenting by recognizing and building on this mutual support.(Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1995;149:868-872)