Social Support and Parenting in Poor, Dangerous Neighborhoods



This study investigated how stressful environmental conditions influence the relation between mothers’ social support and parenting strategies, utilizing interview data from a sample of 262 poor, African American single mothers and their seventh– and eighth–grade children, as well as objective data about respondents’ neighborhoods. In general, the results indicated that neighborhood conditions moderate the relation between social support and parenting behaviors. Specifically, as neighborhood conditions worsened, the positive relation between emotional support and mothers’ nurturant parenting was weakened. In a similar fashion, the negative relation between instrumental social support and punishment was stronger in better neighborhoods. As the surrounding environments became poorer and more dangerous, the relation between greater instrumental support and a lower reliance on punishment was weakened. Thus, on the whole, hierarchical regression analyses indicated that the positive influences of social support on parenting behavior were strained and attenuated in poorer, high–crime environments.