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21-12-2017 | Original Paper | Uitgave 2/2018

Journal of Child and Family Studies 2/2018

Adjustment Profiles of Low-Income Caregivers from the United States and South Africa: Contrasts and Commonalities

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 2/2018
Wendy Kliewer, Joana Salifu Yendork, Anna W. Wright, Basil J. Pillay


Although low-income parents living in under-resourced communities in the United States and around the world face challenges, many do well while others struggle in one or more areas of functioning. The present study examined patterns of adjustment among maternal caregivers living in the United States (US) (N = 320) and South Africa (SA) (N = 324). Cluster analyses across four domains of functioning representing both positive and negative adjustment and conducted within country revealed similar patterns of adjustment, with a majority of caregivers (37.8% in the US; 47.5% in SA) landing in a “holding steady” pattern, exhibiting good but not exceptional adjustment. Other patterns of adjustment (three additional in the US sample; two additional in the SA sample) showed elevated impairment in somatic complaints, problems with alcohol, or life satisfaction. In both the US and SA, support from family, friends, and neighbors differentiated the adjustment profiles. Further, both current stressors within and outside of the family and previous stressors including direct and indirect exposure to violence discriminated caregivers who were “holding steady” from those who were struggling in one or more domains. Additionally, across both countries, caregivers who were “holding steady” evidenced less avoidant coping. Implications of this work for fostering resilience among caregivers and their children are discussed.

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