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Keywords:

  • homelessness;
  • parenting;
  • conflict;
  • social support

Research has shown that having a supportive social network is generally beneficial for individuals, particularly those who arc homeless or at risk of homelessness. However, conflict within these networks may diminish the positive effects of social support on well-being, and these effects may be felt acutely within a vulnerable population with multiple needs. This study examined the impact of conflict and social support on parenting behaviors in a sample of mothers who are homeless and were involved in a study of case management interventions of varying intensity. We found that women who reported high emotional and instrumental social support self-reported greater improvements in parenting consistency over time than those who reported lower levels of support. However, three-way interactions showed that conflict in support networks was a risk factor for harsh parenting practices among participants who reported lower levels of instrumental social support. Results suggest that social support may enhance homeless mothers' ability' to provide consistent parenting, but that these benefits may he undermined if conflict occurs in combination with limited levels of instrumental social support.