Parenting Adults Who Become Homeless: Variations in Stress and Social Support

Michael F. Polgar, Carol S. North, David E. Pollio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


This article focuses on the stressors of parenting an adult child who experiences homelessness. Parents whose adult children become homeless may provide support to this child, but they may also subsequently experience stress and require social support themselves. Findings from this study support the hypothesis that parents who spend more time or money helping their homeless adult offspring experience higher levels of stress. Results also show higher levels of stress among parents who helped with activities of daily living and among parents who worked to prevent harm involving their adult homeless offspring. Among 37 respondents, a majority of whom were African American mothers parenting homeless sons, parents who engaged in activities to prevent harm and parents who experienced stress from harm prevention received more extensive social support. Health and social service providers should recognize and respond to the financial, emotional, and temporal burdens of parenting an adult who becomes homeless. Service providers can both support people who become homeless and reinforce larger family systems, particularly in circumstances that involve more extensive parental support or more harmful situations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)357-365
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Orthopsychiatry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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