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Title: Parenting in single-child families and the well-being of adolescent only-children in UK
Author: Joomunbaccus Khadaroo, Bibi Ameerah
ISNI:       0000 0004 8497 9737
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2018
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Background and aim: Households are decreasing in size with fewer children in developed countries. Nearly half of British families are classified as single-child families (SCF), showing a steady increase from the 1990s. Despite this, research on only-children in the UK is scant. The aim of this study was to explore parenting and the well-being of early adolescents in British single-child families. Methodology: Single-child families (31 adolescents, 47 mothers and 25 fathers) and multiple-children families (NSCF - 46 adolescents, 76 mothers and 31 fathers) completed online surveys on parenting and adolescent wellbeing. Using a mixed methods approach, 15 families with an only-child and 15 families with multiple children were also interviewed, and parent-adolescent interactions were observed using the Etch a Sketch (AMCIES). Interviews were analysed using thematic analysis. Findings: Survey data did not identify any relationship between family type and parenting. There were no significant differences between SCF and NSCF in observed parent-adolescent interactions except that only-children showed more task persistence/attention with mothers. Interview data found both family types were similar on themes such as using a child-centred approach, parental behavioural control and the absence of parental overindulgence. Parents of an only-child reported higher one-on-one parental involvement with their child, overprotective parenting and child-centredness but less authoritative and authoritarian parenting. Single-child families engaged more in permissive parenting and pampering of the child as well as pushy parenting. Both family types reported experiencing a positive parent-child relationship, however, closeness in parent-child relationship and high maternal support characterised the SCF more. Adolescent only-children reported a strong emotional connection only with their mothers and positive differences in parent-child relationships from being an only-child. Survey data revealed no association between parenting and adolescent wellbeing and family type, although adolescent only-children scored higher on self-compassion. Finally, adolescent only-children experienced as positive a relationship with their peers as adolescent non-only children and used friendship to cope with the only perceived disadvantage being an onlie: loneliness. Implications: Parenting in single-child families is similar to parenting in multiple-children families although there are also sharp differences. Importantly, only-children seem to be more at an advantage than non-only children on both the parenting and wellbeing dimensions. Therefore, despite some differences in parenting across both family types, singletons do not fare any worse in terms of their wellbeing. Findings from this study strongly challenge negative stereotyping of single-child families.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: BF Psychology