Date of Award

2010

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours

School

School of Psychology and Social Sciences

Faculty

Faculty of Computing, Health and Science

First Advisor

Lynne Cohen

Second Advisor

Dr Cath Ferguson

Abstract

Single motherhood has been identified as a challenging role, with disadvantages including financial hardship and poor mental health. Resilience is a multidimensional construct, where two conditions need to occur: some form of adversity and positive adaptation. Resilience may empower single mothers to face the challenges whilst leading psychologically healthy and productive lives. Participants in this qualitative research study were ten West Australian single mothers, aged 35 to 45 years. A phenomenological methodology was used to understand their experiences with information collected through in-depth interviews and the Resilience Scale for Adults, used to complement the qualitative findings as descriptive support. Qualitative data were analysed using a thematic approach. Protective and risk factors were reported in a triarchic framework to organise three levels of resilience influence - individual, family and external. A process of change in developing resilience was also identified. Developmental issues relating to the transitional and midlife transition phase identified by Levinson (1978, 1996) were also incorporated into the findings. Results suggested that participants developed protective factors which fit their individuality, context and environment whilst various risk factors were either managed or minimised. Although these single mothers faced a number of challenges, they demonstrated their resourcefulness resulting in positive adaptation, thus, resilience.

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