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Child Abuse Negl. 1995 Aug;19(8):885-95.

Neglectful mothers, their mothers, and partners: the significance of mutual aid.

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  • 1School of Social Service Administration, University of Chicago, IL 60637, USA.


Those who work to prevent the conditions that lead to child neglect need to know which supportive resources parents lack and why. The goals of this paper are to: (a) determine if mothers who neglect their children exchange (i.e., give and receive) fewer resources with two network members: their mothers and partners; and (b) identify a set of relationship characteristics that create barriers to the receipt of resources. Sixty-nine neglectful mothers were compared to a demographically comparable sample of 138 mothers. The results support the conclusion that neglectful mothers exchange fewer resources with both their partners and mothers, but the deficit varied depending on the network member and the type of support. Several additional relationship characteristics differentiated neglectful mothers from comparison mothers. Neglectful mothers were more likely to state their mothers had fewer positive attributes (e.g., was not warm and caring), their relationship was less positive, and they were less interested in receiving resources from their mothers. Partners of neglectful and comparison mothers did not differ on any of these characteristics. Instead, neglectful mothers and their partners knew each other for less time, were likely to be living with each other, and saw each other less frequently.

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