The Effect of a Family-of-Origin Genogram and Parenting Intervention on Adolescent Mothers’ Level of Differentiation of Self and Parenting Attitudes

By Donna G Knauth, Ph.D., RNC
Assistant Professor
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
College of Nursing

The pilot study was conducted from September 1998 through April 1999. The 13 adolescent mothers in the pilot study enjoyed and benefited by the 1,2,3,4 Parents! program. They showed improvement in undertanding the parenting concepts presented in the group discussion. The reading level and the learning style of the program were appropriate for adolescents. Analysis of the data showed that adolescents in both groups had more realistic expectations of their children after completing the study (Z = -2.032 p = [.05). The instrument used for measuring parenting attitudes, the Adult-Adolescent Parenting Inventory (AAPI; Bavoleck, 1984), had several negatively worded questions on the B Form (posttest), which interfered with the adolescents accurately interpreting the questions. I believe the evidence supporting the effectiveness of the parenting program would have been stronger without this confusion.

Another significant finding was related to adolescents and their patience. Paired samples correlations showed responses to item #5 of the Costello and Comrey (1967) anxiety scale, “It makes me nervous when I have to wait,” changed significantly for both groups of adolescents. This provides evidence that the adolescent mothers were significantly more patient after completing the intervention. Additionally, an independent t-test showed that the mean anxiety scores for the adolescents receiving the parenting and the genogram intervention were lower (M = 3.32, SD = .95) than the control group (M = -4.26, SD = 1.45), indicating a trend toward supporting the research hypothesis that adolescents who receive the genogram intervention along with parenting report lower levels of chronic anxiety than those who received the parenting intervention alone. This would lend support to the benefit of using a family systems approach to teach adolescents how families function and how they function in their family.