• African American youth and their fathers: Exploring the relationship between perceived nurturance and psychological well-being

      Doyle, Otima; Pecukonis, Edward Vincent (2008)
      Many researchers suggest that mothers and fathers influence children's outcomes through nurturant personal and social characteristics (Lamb & Tamis-LeMonda, 2004), and that father nurturance is universally associated with positive child outcomes (Rohner, 1986; Rohner & Khaleque, 2005). However, empirical evidence related to father nurturance is sparse (Rohner & Veneziano, 2001), particularly among African Americans. Given recent agreement regarding the salience of cultural variation within fatherhood (Lamb & Tamis-LeMonda, 2004), and the limited empirical literature base, the first objective of this dissertation is to identify factors that are predictive of father nurturance. The second objective is to investigate whether youths' perceptions of father nurturance during childhood and adolescence (birth to 18) predict their current level of psychological well-being. Data were collected from 264, 18-25 year old African American college students. Participants completed a self-administered survey consisting of demographic questions and four scales: The Parental Acceptance/Rejection Questionnaire (Rohner & Khaleque, 2005), the Nurturant Fathering Scale (Finley & Schwartz, 2004), The Personality Assessment Questionnaire (Rohner & Khaleque, 2005), and the Sources of Social Support Scale (Friedman, Koeske, Silvestre, Korr, & Sites, 2006). Overall, those who interacted more frequently and over longer periods of time (from birth to 18) with their identified father have higher perceptions of father nurturance. The high percentage of variance accounted for lends partial support to the notion that father nurturance and father involvement are separate, yet interrelated constructs (Schwartz & Finley, 2005b; Williams & Finley, 1997). Those whose mothers and identified fathers were married or cohabitating have lower levels of psychological well-being, and those who perceived greater levels of mother nurturance have higher levels of psychological well-being. The inverse relationship between youths' parents' marital status and youth psychological well-being may speak to the interplay between youths' mothers and fathers and raises a number of questions regarding the specific nature of the marital and cohabitating relationships. Finally, the lack of significance of father nurturance raises questions about potential cultural variations in the definition of the concept itself and the potential need to incorporate additional roles of the father into this definition.
    • Childhood experiences, personality development and marital interactional patterns in women with chronic benign back pain

      Pecukonis, Edward Vincent; Altstein, Howard (1993)
      The present research consisted of a series of two interrelated studies that explored the role of childhood experience, personality development and marital interactional patterns in shaping adult responses to physical pain. The first study utilized a case-control design to explore the role of traumatic childhood experiences in developing chronic benign back pain in a group of women drawn from a large urban health center. Within this study, the developmental variables of primary caretaker alcoholism and childhood sex abuse, were combined with the psychological variables of alexithymia, Health Locus of Control and Physical Self-Efficacy in an attempt to discriminate between groups of women with chronic benign back pain (n = 59) and control subjects (n = 53). Participants were screened for chronic benign back pain by two physicians who utilized a back pain checklist. All participants comprising the cases and controls sampling frame were then surveyed on the predictor variables. A hierarchical logistic regression model was utilized to ascertain the utility of the proposed model in predicting group membership. The results suggest that the proposed psycho-social model was useful in identifying subjects with this debilitating condition. The individual predictor variables of increasing age, being married and exposure to an alcoholic caretaker were associated with an increased risk of developing chronic benign back pain. Perceived self-efficacy physical presentation confidence was found to be protective.;The second study utilized methods of qualitative or naturalistic inquiry to explore the role of chronic benign back pain within the marriages of twelve women, drawn from the original case's sampling frame, who were sexually abused by a male alcoholic caretaker. Detailed social histories were compiled on the back pain subject and her spouse and used to create a psychosocial impairment typology consisting of three categories: (1) dysfunctional couples group, (2) dysfunctional husbands group and (3) dysfunctional wives group. Couples were then assessed regarding the impact of the chronic pain complaint on eight key areas of their marital relationship: (1) sexual adjustment, (2) emotional intimacy, (3) verbal expressions of emotions, (4) self esteem, (5) conflict resolution, (6) decision making styles, (7) social activities and (8) roles. Findings suggest that chronic benign pain and its associated emotional suffering, differentially served six interpersonal functions for the couples. These functions were related to their classification within the psychosocial impairment typology and consisted of: (1) legitimizing the expression of affects, (2) realigning hierarchical structures, (3) enhancing self presentation, (4) legitimizing pre-pain sexual dysfunction, (5) regulating emotional intimacy and (6) protection/reduction of violence. Implications for future research and social work practice are discussed. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)
    • Exploring How Teen Mothers in Foster Care Experience Motherhood: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis

      Aparicio, Elizabeth; Pecukonis, Edward Vincent (2014)
      Teen pregnancy in foster care is an issue receiving increasing attention due to high pregnancy rates. Previous literature on both teen motherhood and foster youth is focused on negative outcomes, risk factors, and pathology. Despite this emphasis, a small, but growing body of literature on the experience of motherhood of teen mothers in foster care reflects a perspective that is not simply negative - a lived reality that is characterized by both risk and opportunity. The purpose of the current qualitative study was to explore the meaning and experience of motherhood for teen mothers in foster care. The study involved three in-depth interviews with 6 young women who had become mothers while in care. It employed interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA; Smith, Flowers, & Larkin, 2009) to elicit, analyze, and re-present a rich account of this experience. Findings suggest the lived experience of motherhood for these young women is an intricate reality that brings past, present, and hoped-for future experiences into seamless unison in the midst of the intensely meaningful experience of becoming a mother. Participants discussed their interpretation of motherhood as offering a sense of hope for new beginnings and doing things differently than what had happened in their own families, yet simultaneously as a time of feeling plagued by the lingering effects of darkness and despair in their childhood and adolescence due to factors such as substance abuse, abuse and neglect, poverty, and the breakdown of family ties. The findings suggest that teen mothers in foster care experience becoming mothers as offering opportunities to change their identities from that of "foster child" to "mother", gain motivation and purpose, receive unconditional love, and work through their views on their own parents in the context of a new role. Implications include the need for comprehensive sexual health, substance abuse, and behavioral health services at all levels for child welfare-involved families and youth that include a significant focus on trauma, grief, loss, and attachment issues; better parenting support for teen mothers in foster care; and meaningful discussions about the unintended effects of child welfare intervention on communities related to teen pregnancy and motherhood.