Academic journal article Family Relations

Identifying Attendance Correlates for a Teen and Young Adult Parenting Program

Academic journal article Family Relations

Identifying Attendance Correlates for a Teen and Young Adult Parenting Program

Article excerpt

Factors predicting attendance by 161 adolescents and young adults at a parenting skills program were assessed. Data were collected on participant demographics, intrapersonal variables, social support, attendance goals, and parenting knowledge. Multiple regression analyses revealed four positive predictors-receipt of AFDC, endorsing goals of meeting other parents and learning how to relax, and number of children; and one negative predictor-total number of group sessions. Three variables-number of sessions, number of children, and learning to relax differentiated the highest versus lowest attenders in a discriminant analysis. Implications for practice and suggestions for future research are discussed.

Key Words: adolescent parents, attendance, parenting groups.

Identifying Attendance Correlates for a Teen and Young Adult Parenting Program*

Patricia McCarthy,** Mark Sundby, John Merladet, and Michael G. Luxenberg

Sustaining adolescent participation in parent education programs is a major concern for human service professionals. A review of program evaluation studies suggests that parenting groups are characterized by high levels of attrition. It is not uncommon for more than half of teen participants to drop out of programs (cf. James & Etheridge, 1978; Weinman, Schrieber, & Robinson, 1991). Although there is a growing body of literature which addresses the question of parenting program outcomes (e.g., Clark & Baker, 1983; Seitz, Apfel, & Rosenbaum, 1991; Thomas, Rickel, Butler, & Montgomery, 1990), little systematic consideration has been given to identifying factors related to differing levels of client involvement (Unger, 1987). The identification of such factors might aid in the development of programs that are in tune with teen parents' patterns of participation and, thus, improve attendance and program effectiveness. Accordingly, the purpose of this study was to assess possible correlates of attendance at a time-limited parenting program for adolescent and young adult parents.

Factors Related to Attendance

Teen parent programs. Empirical attempts to identify the factors related to teen parent attendance have been sparse. Nevertheless, three studies were found which suggest that social support and context of services may be important variables. Specifically, family support was positively related to participation in psychoeducational groups (Unger, 1987) and to an increased likelihood of teen mothers staying in school (Seitz et al., 1991). Furthermore, both the location of meetings (e.g., in apartment buildings where the teen parents reside) and child-care provision may enhance attendance at parenting programs (Kline, Grayson, & Mathie, 1990).

Adult parent programs. A fairly substantial body of research concerns attendance at parenting programs by adult, White, middle or working class parents who have one or more children with behavior problems. These studies directly compare and contrast characteristics of parents who complete programs to those who drop out, and their results may help to inform studies of teen parent attendance. The most commonly identified variables include parent demographics, social support, intrapersonal and attitudinal factors, and parent perceptions of the nature and severity of their parenting problems.

Contradictory results have been obtained for parent demographics and attendance. Holden (1986) found that parenting program completers were more likely to be female, Caucasian, married or living with a partner, more highly educated, and at a higher socioeconomic level than dropouts, whereas Lochman and Brown (1980) found no significant differences in these demographics for dropouts versus completers. One study indicates that parents with either older or male children were significantly more likely to remain in treatment (Firestone & Witt, 1982), whereas another obtained no significant relationships between completion status and either age or sex of the child (Holden, 1986). …

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