Work/family role integration, a study of single working mothers of preshcool children

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Harder, C. Wayne
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The following is a Master of Social Work thesis that examines how single working mothers of pre-school children balance work/family roles. Seven women volunteered to participate in a single semi-structured interview. A qualitative research method, in particular the mode of analysis for grounded theory, was chosen in order to explore how participants used a variety of strategies to integrate roles. The literature review discusses how social policy and the traditional distinction between work and family roles have contributed to an emphasis on the private responsibility for caring. The eco-systemic perspective is utilized as a theoretical framework in order to describe how individual interaction with the environment is aimed toward problem solving and achieving mastery. The use of analytic tools from grounded theory allows the researcher to relay the experiences of participants as a process of organizing and delegating care giving and of acquiring support as a worker and as a parent. Using the same tools, this experience is integrated into a discussion on individual functioning, progressive social policies and supportive workplace policies and benefits. The thesis concludes with recommendations for structural change in both the workplace and in government policies. Employers can acknowledge the interrelationship between work/family roles by implementing formalized policies in such areas as scheduling and family related leave. Government policies can support the role of care giving by facilitating more affordable and flexible child care options. Support for this role can also be achieved by enhancing income transfers such as the Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB) and by reducing pressure on single working mothers to accept low income jobs.