Across the political spectrum, unwed fatherhood is denounced as one of the leading social problems of today. Doing the Best I Can is a strikingly rich, paradigm-shifting look at fatherhood among inner-city men often dismissed as “deadbeat dads.” Kathryn Edin and Timothy J. Nelson examine how couples in challenging straits come together and get pregnant so quickly—without planning. The authors chronicle the high hopes for forging lasting family bonds that pregnancy inspires, and pinpoint the fatal flaws that often lead to the relationship’s demise. They offer keen insight into a radical…
This chapter draws upon 14 years of related ethnographic studies to uncover the principal features that characterize family life among the poor. Experiences dealing with multiple agencies are discussed, as well as experiences dealing with health problems in the context of the U.S. medical care system, and the aftermaths of household emergencies. 34 references.
This chapter reviews how theorists and policymakers portray the state’s capacity to alter the behavior and beliefs of low income parents and then highlights findings from a study of two women’s experiences in their efforts to find jobs and supportive resources. Finding a job and securing welfare supports were linked to their parenting pathway, however, the mothers’ first concern was their children’s well-being. The chapter concludes by exploring whether the motivating power of raising children might lead to a more effective family policy. 34 references. (Author abstract modified)
Findings are shared from a longitudinal, qualitative study that examined the links between urban poverty-related conditions and the quality of parent-child relationships in 10 families, specifically the care and protection of infants and toddlers. The effects on parenting of the family cap, subsidized child care, and welfare-to-work requirements are discussed. 22 references.
This chapter synthesizes the results of both quantitative experimental and qualitative research about how low-income children fare as their mothers spend more time in the labor market and attempt to strike a new balance between work and parenting. Findings indicate policies that effectively increase parental income as they increase employment improve the well-being of young children and are the most promising for helping families cope. Numerous references.
A study used qualitative methods to explore the specific mechanisms and processes through which poverty and welfare changes affected 186 low-income families with young children. Particular attention was paid to the relative influences of factors related to welfare reform, family financial resources, and characteristics associated with parent, child, and family functioning. Case studies are offered. 26 references.
This chapter reports on in-depth interviews with 41 current and recent TANF recipients that discussed the various contributions that fathers make to their children, their strengths and limitations as fathers, and the benefits and challenges of their varying levels of participation in family life. It then explores whether mothers’ voices can inform policy options. 1 table and numerous references.
Drawing on data from 44 African American low-income fathers and interviews with three African American fathers conducted in the wake of Wisconsin’s effort to reduce the welfare rolls, this chapter examines how some men push to meet the basic financial and even emotional needs of their children. Findings indicate child support enforcement was a source of frustration and pain. 26 references.
This final chapter reviews major findings from qualitative studies of low-income families facing a new policy environment that calls for women to work outside the home in addition to managing the second shift of work inside the home. Findings indicate women continue to put their children’s needs above paid employment, few women experience real economic gains by increased work participation, and children’s well-being appears to be buffered and advanced by women’s well-being, social support, and parenting quality. 39 references.
This chapter describes the Family Life Project, a large-scale longitudinal study that chronicles the lives of African American and non-African American children and their families living in two poor rural areas of the US: Appalachia and the Black South. The breadth of the Family Life Project data allows us to expand the previous literature on rural poverty and to highlight the notion that the effects of poverty are not limited to low levels of income, but are rather fused with several “correlated constraints” that co-occur with poverty: low maternal education, low job prestige, non-standard…