The purpose of this study was to describe the primary prevention behaviors of 59 female-headed, one-parent families and the barriers which deter their practice. Two interviews, a health diary, and a card sort were used for data collection. Descriptive statistics and content analysis were used to analyze the qualitative data. Nutrition was the behavior the families felt was most important for maintaining health. Time was the major barrier to primary prevention practices. A relationship was found between the family's ability to change and grow and their practice of primary prevention behaviors. Families that consciously risked lifestyle changes also were willing to try to incorporate primary prevention behaviors. On the contrary, families with stagnant lifestyles expressed the desire to change their primary prevention behaviors but made no visible attempt to do so.