Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Human Development and Family Studies


Human Development and Family Studies

First Advisor

Brenda J. Lohman


Many researchers note that children from single-parent households generally do worse in school than children from two-parent households, possibly because single-parent families are more susceptible to instability due to lack of resources. However, environment and individual differences, such as the mother's resiliency, can provide a buffer for children in single-parent homes. In order to confirm the distinction between how individual and external factors influence single mothers and their effects on their child’s cognitive functioning, the current study had two objectives: to determine (a) individual factors of the single mothers associated with their children’s cognitive functioning in middle childhood; and (b) external factors that impact single mothers and are associated with children’s cognitive functioning. This study used a sample of high-risk single mothers and their children from Welfare, Children, and Families: A Three-City Study. At the Wave 1 data collection the children were ages 2 to 4 and at a follow-up five years later, Wave 3, the children were ages 7 to 10. The mothers’ family background, psychosocial resources, socioeconomic status, family stress, and parenting quality from early childhood were used to predict their children’s cognitive functioning in middle childhood, while controlling for the children’s cognitive functioning at Wave 1. The results show that maternal education (for the applied problem scale: ß=.14, p=.01) and positive parenting (both for the applied problem scale ß=.10, p=.04 and letter-word identification ß=.90, p=.06) during early childhood were related to increases in the child’s cognitive functioning over a five-year period. This argues for resources to increase single mothers’ education and programs to help improve their positive parenting skills. It is hoped that the results of this study can initiate intervention or preventive programs for these mothers and children in the future.


Copyright Owner

Lailatul Ali Husin



File Format


File Size

85 pages