Single-Parent Family Health Assessment

Introduction

The family examined is a single-parent family with two children. After getting a divorce from the children’s father, Cayden, the mother, has been taking care of her two children, an 8-year-old boy Andres and a 10-year-old girl Aneesha. Cayden is a 35-year-old African-American female who is working as a nurse in a local hospital. To support the children, she has to work long hours, which results in stress and role overload. There is also evidence for impaired parenting in the family due to the lack of a proper work-life balance.

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Living Conditions and Income

Cayden is the leader and the primary provider in the family. She takes care of the children on her own, which requires her working excessive hours to ensure that all of their needs are met. Neither Cayden nor her children show evidence or previous diagnosis of physical or psychological conditions that could be affecting family function. However, the current living situation and environment can become an area of concern both for the mother and the kids. Cayden has a formal workplace in the hospital, and she is paid about $34 per hour as a registered hospital nurse. However, the family does not own a house, and with a rising rent pay, a large part of Cayden’s income is spent on rent. She is also devoted to ensuring that Andres and Aneesha have as many opportunities for extracurricular development as possible. The average weekly cost of extra-curricular activities attended by two children can be over $100, which excludes expenses on materials, uniform, and transport. For a medium-income parent, Cayden also spends a large amount of money on food to ensure good nutrition for the children. Overall, the family has good living conditions and environment; however, to reach the desired level of comfort, Cayden has to work more and take night shifts, which leads to increased levels of stress.

Family Development

The current family development stage is ‘a family with school-aged children’, and the family managed to accomplish the tasks of previous stages rather well. Children show an appropriate fulfillment of developmental tasks for their age. They are socially active, perform well at school, and are interested in a variety of extracurricular activities, such as music, painting, basketball, and dance. However, Cayden’s story shows gaps in certain areas of development. For example, she does not present evidence of maintaining a satisfactory romantic relationship, which is one of the developmental tasks for adults aged 30-60 years (Hutteman, Hennecken, Orth, Reitz, & Specht, 2014). Due to being overworked, she also fails to fulfill the tasks related to social life, which include participating in leisure-time activities and maintaining a good work-life balance (Hutteman et al., 2014). The family does not exhibit evidence of having a clear future goal, but Cayden notes that she would like her kids to get a good education and to pursue well-paid careers. In general, the family’s development is appropriate for the current stage and family type, but there is a concern for Cayden’s future development if she is unable to find a suitable work-life balance.

Health Patterns

Neither the mother nor the kids have genetic predispositions to any kinds of diseases. Cayden notes that her parents’ health was never a matter of concern; both of her parents are healthy for their age and never experienced any serious health issues. Cayden is aware of child health promotion practices and makes sure that the children receive regular flu vaccinations. She also plans to follow the scheme for Tdap, HPV, and Meningococcal vaccinations once they reach the recommended age of 11-12 years. None of the children are experiencing problems regarding their health and none of the family members have been admitted to the hospital in the past few years.

Communication Patterns

According to the patterns of communication evident in the family, it can be determined that Cayden uses protective parenting as the primary mode of communication. According to Galvin, Braithwaite, and Bylund (2015), in protective families, “parents are motivated to communicate with their children to seek control, although these parents also report affection as one reason they communicate with children” (p. 177). Cayden makes all the decisions in the family; she is quite authoritative with her children, and there is a distinctive set of house rules that every member of the family has to follow. On the one hand, this helps to promote organization and discipline and to distribute some of the housework; on the other hand, however, it can increase the pressure on the children and impair the communication of feelings and emotions between the family members (Galvin et al., 2015). There is no evidence of physical and emotional violence in the family. As seen from her divorce story, Cayden tends to take it upon herself to deal with any crises and tries to lift the pressure from the children as much as possible. Indeed, this strategy proved to be useful during the divorce process, which the kids took relatively well. However, this can hardly be deemed an appropriate plan for crisis and disaster management, as responsibility overload can lead to burnout and result in high levels of stress.

Support and Role Overload

There are no significant cultural or religious factors that influence the family health and social status. Cayden has a stable income and a good benefits package at work that provides health insurance for her and the children. The main source of support are Cayden’s parents, who live nearby; Cayden’s mother has recently retired and likes to spend time with her grandchildren, which is helpful when Cayden is busy with work. She also helps Cayden with some household duties, such as cleaning and cooking. For occasions when her mother is not available, Cayden hires a babysitter to look after the children. The babysitter is a young college student who has been working in the family for a couple of years. She takes the kids to extracurricular activities and helps them with their homework, keeping Andres and Aneesha occupied until Cayden comes home. Despite these means of support available, it is evident that Cayden experiences a parental role overload. She admits that he has started to work longer hours after separating from her husband, which was mainly driven by the need to support the family; however, a longitudinal study by Matthews, Winkel, and Wayne (2014) suggests that such an interdomain transition, or the change of focus from family life to work life, can be one of the effects of role overload, especially for single parents.

Nursing Diagnoses

Stress Overload

Cayden exhibits signs of stress overload, as defined by Herdman and Kamitsuru (2014). For example, she exhibits the feelings of pressure related to work and parenting, as well as constant tension and overload of responsibilities. There is also a presence of clear identified stressors, such as work, relationship with children, and financial situation. According to suggestions by Herdman and Kamitsuru (2014), it is necessary “to consider if it is possible for the patient to eliminate or reframe the stressors, or if the priority is to focus on the ineffective coping in response to the stressors” (p. 48). In Cayden’s case, improving stress-coping mechanisms should help to manage stress more effectively.

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Parental Role Conflict

Herdman and Kamitsuru (2014) state that a change in marital status is one of the factors most frequently resulting in parental role conflict in the primary caregiver. Cayden shows evidence of anxiety, fear, and frustration associated with her role as a single parent, which are the defining characteristics of parental role conflict (Herdman & Kamitsuru, 2014). She has also mentioned feeling guilty for the divorce as she was unable to preserve a traditional family. In addition to relieving the stress, Cayden needs to develop a proper method of addressing the strains resulting from her relationship with the children, as these are among the main factors promoting role overload and role conflict (Nomaguchi, 2012, p. 496).

Impaired Parenting

From Cayden’s story, it is clear that there is a lack of parent-child interaction and a perceived inability to meet child’s needs, which may be the preliminary characteristics of impaired parenting (Herdman & Kamitsuru, 2014). To avoid the adverse effects on children, such as developmental delays and insufficient attachment behavior (Herdman & Kamitsuru, 2014), Cayden needs to improve her work-life balance to spend more times with kids to promote better communication and attachment.

Conclusion

Overall, Cayden’s family is relatively healthy, and the only areas of concern are her capabilities for managing stress and responsibilities, as well as maintaining a good balance between family and work. I believe that addressing the diagnoses specified above would promote better communication and improve the lives of all family members.

References

Galvin, K. M., Braithwaite, D. O., & Bylund, C. L. (2015). Family communication: Cohesion and change. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.

Herdman, T. H., & Kamitsuru, S. (Eds.). (2014). NANDA International, Inc. nursing diagnoses: Definitions & classification 2015–2017 (10th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell.

Hutteman, R., Hennecken, M., Orth, U., Reitz, A. K., & Specht, J. (2014). Developmental tasks as a framework to study personality development in adulthood and old age. European Journal of Personality, 28(3), 267-278.

Matthews, R. A., Winkel, D. E., & Wayne, J. H. (2014). A longitudinal examination of role overload and work–family conflict: The mediating role of interdomain transitions. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 35(1), 72-91.

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Nomaguchi, K. M. (2012). Parenthood and psychological well-being: Clarifying the role of child age and parent-child relationship quality. Social Science Research, 41(2), 489-498.

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