Single-Parent Families: Barriers To Participation in Physical Activity and Leisure

By: Natalie G.

Single-parent families are more common in today’s contemporary society than ever before. As we all know as kinesiology students, physical activity and leisure are important in our daily lives and foster many benefits. We, as students, take the time out of our week to go to the gym to workout or engage in a sport/leisure activity despite all of the workloads we have. However, in single-parent families, the barriers are far greater which prevents them from engaging in physical activity to receive the benefits and socially connect through leisure. In class, we have gone over the challenges single-parent families face and they are economic challenges, parental conflict, less parental supervision of children, and less time for household tasks, child care tasks, and personal leisure (Shannon-McCallum, 2018). From a personal perspective, I grew up in a single-parent home as an only child and my mother never engaged in leisure activities due to financial issues, lack of time, unmotivated, supervision issues, and many more. Results of her not engaging in physical activity or leisure have increased her risks of health issues and lessened our social connectedness as a family.

As a class, we looked into considering family. We need to consider family, especially single-parent families because family is a location/context in which we enjoy leisure, it is often the most important social agent as family transmits attitudes, values, behaviour, and culture from one generation to another, and children are taught and reproduce gender roles (Shannon-McCallum, 2018). Families play a large influence on children on whether they are going to engage in physical activity/leisure activities or not. Children will develop values and attitudes towards leisure and sport and are likely to reproduce their family gender roles from their own parents. Therefore, is it important for parents (particularly single-parent families) to engage in physical activity and leisure by possibly removing or decreasing their barriers to participate, and remodel for their children.

Digging deeper into this topic, an article by Azar, Naughton, and Joseph (2009) explored physical activity and social connectedness in single-parent families. They found that single-parent families have more challenges than dual-parent families. “Often single-parents report less perceived social support, fewer connections with friends and families and lower levels of social engagement than parents in ‘coupled’ families” (Azar et al., 2009, p. 2). Through the study, a program at the YMCA (Active Families Project) was developed for families (parents) to engage in physical activity, reduce their barriers, and build a better social network with others. The results found that the single parents had reduced barriers, stronger social networks, and supervision. The program at the YMCA found a threefold in the results. The first one was the number of perceived barriers to physical activity decreased over time. The second one was improved social connections with friends and family by more conversations over the phone and more visits. The third one was increased physical activity through the single-parents and their children (Azar et al., 2018).

Growing up, if there was a program in my community willing to help out families at the time, my mother would have been more engaged in her leisure pursuits and our social connectedness would have been greater. She felt that her lack of time due to work and supervision issues was the main factor as to why she did not engage in physical activity or her leisure pursuits. Programs at the YMCA that focus on families are important because this gives parents the opportunities to engage in leisure and sports activities, by removing the barriers and create stronger social networks. Single-parents need programs in their community like this to receive the benefits of physical activity and social networking, and to feel that their barriers are not as heavy as dual-parent families. Additionally, single-parents have to want the help from programs and others, to reduce their barriers. Throughout the study, 20 participants were unable to be contacted, 11 of them withdrew, and 3 loss interests (Azar et al., 2009); thus, parents have to want the help to be committed to reducing their barriers to increase their physical activity and leisure. Although this study was just a project, the benefits are similar to a real program that wants to help out local families.

Looking more into single-parent mothers versus single-parent fathers, the barriers are still similar. Beginning with single-parent mothers, “Single mothers are often the primary or sole income provider for the family and spend nearly as much time with their children as married mothers (Kendig & Bianchi, 2008), potentially leaving less time for engaging in physical activity” (Dlugonski & Motl, 2014, p. 2). To bring back my personal experience with a single-parent mother, she was also considered low income, which had an impact on her physical activity and leisure. “Low-income single mothers reported feeling fatigued and stressed because of work-family conflicts in a qualitative study (Son & Bauer, 2010) and these feelings might further impact motivation to participate in physical activity” (Dlygonski & Motl, 2014, p.2). Due to her low-income salary, this had an impact on her participation in leisure and sports due to fees and equipment costs, which resulted in her motivation to be absent to participate in physical activity.

On the contrary, single-parent fathers also have the same barriers to their physical activity and leisure. Although there is not much research on single-parent fathers, they experience the same barriers. They are the providers of their children and may have issues with supervision and financial costs, which can result in lack of participation in physical activity and their leisure pursuits. They are consumed in taking their children to their sports and leisure activities every week; they struggle to find time for their own physical activity, which can create a large barrier.

In relation to the Gender, Leisure, and Sport course, this topic is significant. I believe it is important to provide support to the single-parent families considering they are more common in today’s society. Single-parent mother and fathers have a lot more responsibilities than dual parent families. Therefore, it is important for organizations to provide programs in place for local families to create those opportunities for them to engage in physical activity and leisure and reduce those barriers. Single-parents also have to want the help offered by the organizations to create opportunities for themselves. Many benefits are fostered when single-parents barriers are reduced such as their perceived barriers to physical activity decreases, improved social connections, and increased physical activity levels (Azar et al., 2009).

References

Azar, D., Naughton, G. A. & Joseph, C.W. (2009). Physical activity and social connectedness in single-parent families. Leisure Studies, 28(3), 349-358

Shannon-McCallum, C. (2018). Lecture 9 – Family and Leisure(I)_Cole. In Lecture at UNB.

Dlugonski, D. & Motl, R. (2014). Social cognitive correlates of physical activity among single-parent mothers with young children. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 637-641

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Co-ed and same-sex sports and physical education, which one is better?

By Rachel G.

In class, we have discussed the constraints or barriers that adolescents have today when it comes to participating in sports and leisure. These constraints can become quite obvious in the physical education classes at school. In recent studies the question of whether co-ed or same sex is better for students is raised. It is still up for debate and is research is still ongoing. Is one more positive for one sex and negative for the other? Or do they both benefit in one over the other. In the following two articles, the researchers both conducted studies of young adolescences in the education system, the first was observational and the second included interviews with teachers. After reading these articles the constraints that both sexes have, are clearly present.

Mckenzie, Prochaska, Sallis, and LaMaster (2004) found that there was more “play time” in boys-only classes versus girls only. This, in turn, lead to girls also spending less time in physical activity during the lesson time. Girls tended to get more moderate-vigorous physical activity in girls-only classes. Boys, on the other hand, had the same amount in both co-ed and boys only. Girls-only classes usually spent more time on skill drills because girls generally have lower motor and sports skill levels at this age. However, with boys playing more, this could lead to boys to having greater preference for team games. Findings from previous studies indicate many girls do not prefer co-ed physical education classes, and may be at a disadvantage while participating in them. They suggested that girls-only physical education may better address some educational needs of adolescent girls, allowing educators to take the time to pay more attention to skill development. This study did acknowledge that they did not examine individual student level factor and suggested further study on classroom composition and lesson plans. They stated that the complexities of gender issues and gender equity in physical education are substantial. This also takes into consideration the varying societal expectations for behaviours in different cultural environments.

The second article by Wright (1997), interviewed numerous physical education teachers both male and female that taught co-ed and same sex classes. They found that girls in co-ed were more easily embarrassed to make a mistake and avoided physical contact with their male peers in sport situations, this lead to much more resistance from the girls compared to the boys to participate. The male students usually received more praise than girls because they participated more in co-ed settings. Female students tended to ask more questions and have longer conversation with their teacher about the lesson. With male students, it was some quick short interactions in regards to the sporting lesson. Both male and female teachers had more interpersonal interactions with female students verses male students. These same teachers also usually anticipated or assumed that female students would have a less knowledge on the sport and would need more instruction and encouragement. In most of the boys-only lessons it was clear that the teacher expected the boys to bring sufficient resources to participate in skill practices and games with less introduction or instruction. In the skills practice, which followed the explanation, where the male teachers were teaching boys, there were long pauses while the boys practiced without any commentary. The opposite would happen with girls-only practice, with much more frequent stops to explain more. Where the female and male teachers’ language seems to suggest that they were more likely to take into account the girls’ reactions, their experiences and needs; the male teachers in their talk to boys were more likely to establish what had to be done and how and then let the boys get on with their tasks. For male students who were non-compliant, it was assumed it had nothing to do with his individual identity but brought into question is masculinity. On the other hand, females who were non-complaint ironically confirmed their positioning as feminine. Usually the language of the teachers usually unconsciously positioned students in relation to cultural views on gender. This article put social relations at the center of concerns and suggested that teachers should tried to developed a better understand of their actions and language with their students.

This second article was published in 1997, I’d like to believe that the educational system has become more aware of the language they use with their male and female students. However, there are some aspects that are still prevalent today. Some of the observations stated I can clearly think back to my own high school days and relate. Both articles in the end did not say that one way of organizing the students was better than the other. It seems evident that it really comes down the individual. Some females would feel more comfortable than others to participate in co-ed sports of physical education. Coming back to the constraints of adolescent girls; body image, lack of self-confidence, shyness, over competitiveness and parental influence. At this age they are taking into consideration what society thinks women should be. Engaging in sports with other males, could be viewed as being too masculine. On the other hand, male students who don’t want engage in sport in co-ed situations could be teased or viewed to be like the girls. Male constraints include: body image, pressure to conform to masculine roles, lack of skill has no place and parental influences.

The classroom should be a place where social constructs like these are meant to be broken. The way teachers talk or treat females and males should be more equal or neutral and teachers should not make overall assumptions about either sex. It is hard to ignore the influence of outside factors such as media and parents. The classroom however should be an open-minded place where students shouldn’t be ridiculed on how they participate in certain sports. The focus of the classroom should be to encourage all students to be physically active, healthy and to teach them about different sports. In a coaching setting, again coaches need to be more conscious about the language they use with their players no matter the sex. Evidently there are benefits to both co-ed and same sex sports and recreation.  More research needs to be done, in order to possibly choose one over the other. However, I believe that it really comes down to the individual which is more beneficial.

References:

McKenzie, T. L., Prochaska, J. J., Sallis, J. F., & LaMaster, K. J. (2004). Coeducational and Single-Sex Physical Education in Middle Schools: Impact on Physical Activity. Research Quarterly For Exercise & Sport75(4), 446-449.

Wright, J. (1997). The construction of gendered contexts in single sex and co‐educational physical education lessons. Sport, Education and Society, 2(1), 55-72.

 

 

Barriers Girls Face in Sport Participation

By Andrea D.

Participating in physical activity is an important part of being healthy – it helps with physical, mental, social, and emotional health. So, encouraging physical activity and reducing barriers is something that we as a society should be trying to do. I would like to discuss some of the barriers that girls face in regards to physical activity and then some of the things that we as a society can do to help. I chose to specifically discuss girls because they generally have a lower participation rate in sports and it is when we are young that we learn the basic skills that are used throughout a variety of sports which sets us up for being physically active for our entire lives.

Some barriers come from lack of opportunities – this can come from less girls teams in certain sports to less opportunities for sports in rural areas. There are economic barriers – boys teams often get more sponsors and funds meaning that for more expensive sports, there are more barriers that girls teams face. Also as youth get older, there are less recreational-level sports, and some girls identify this as a barrier as they don’t want to play or don’t make the team for a more competitive level.

One article cited three main self perceived barriers to physical activity, but the one I would like to focus on was about gender roles and the social acceptability of participating¹ which is important because sports are very gendered. For example, it is more socially acceptable for girls to participate in sports like swimming, dance, cheer leading, and gymnastics than it is for boys. Just like it is more acceptable for boys to participate in sports like hockey, rugby, martial arts, baseball. An example of this is found here at UNB – we are only now creating a women’s hockey team despite an interest from the students; and this is Canada, a country that is known for its love of hockey. If we are not willing to give women their own hockey team, then who will.  This leads to girls facing bullying, a lack of support, and feeling left out when they do try to participate in certain sports. This negative environment is not one that is good for fostering a positive environment that encourages girls to do their best in sports.

So what can we as a society do to help? First of all, we need to make sure that there are enough opportunities to become active in sports including making sure there are girls teams and that they have the funding they need.  Advertising is also important – if girls don’t know about the opportunities they have, then they can’t participate. Keep recreational level sports for adolescents gives more chances for those who are taking up a new sport and those who don’t feel comfortable with a highly competitive environment.  Lastly, we need to support all the youth who want to join sports and encourage any interest in sports and physical activity, so following anti-bullying and discrimination policies is important. So let’s work together to create a sport environment that everyone is welcome at and help improve their health.

 

¹Fisette, J. L. (2013). ‘Are you listening?’: adolescent girls voice how they negotiate self-identified barriers to their success and survival in physical education. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, 18, 2, 184-203.

 

 

The Supermom Era

By Amanda Blackmore

There is a new superhero in town and she does not wear a cape, have invisibility powers, or produce webbing out of her wrists. She does, however, perform seemingly impossible tasks without asking for any recognition. She is your mother. Women with children have reached a new level of busy and there is no end in sight. What does this mean for future generations? Will our generation’s daughters be as run-off-their-feet as our mothers are?

Generally, the percentage of women participating in the work force has increased for the past thirty years reaching 59.3% in 2008 (StatCan, 2014). In other words, our mothers are more likely to be a part of the work force now than our grandmothers were in their day. Furthermore, the employment rate of women with children under 16 who are living at home has increased from 39.1% in 1976 to 72.9% in 2009 (StatCan, 2014). It is also known that, generally, women are the primary caregivers in the family when the family includes a heterosexual couple. A generation of supermoms has appeared because women are now expected to work outside the home and continue to be the primary caregiver at home.

This seems like an unreasonable expectation. When I was growing up, my mother stayed home with me and my three siblings and she was busy enough simply taking care of all the unpaid work associated with running a household like caregiving, making meals, and cleaning. I cannot imagine how our household would have survived without her around every day if she were to have had a full time job outside the home. However, we see that employment rates for women with children are increasing. Women are now taking on the role of both caregiver and wage-earner, and thus we have the supermom.

The supermom is portrayed in commercials and television shows as the norm and the ideal parent. The media tells young women that being a good mother means being a supermom. She must be able to handle all household tasks perfectly, and she must also be able to hold down a full time job. To further express this ideal, men in commercials and some television sitcoms are portrayed as idiots who cannot adequately handle house work or caring for children, especially after coming home after a long day of work. These male characters encourage women to believe that they must do it all.

With this new supermom construct, women’s leisure time is taking a major hit. When a mother is expected to make supper, do all the housework, and put the kids to bed all after she has returned from work, how does she find any leisure time for herself? Leisure time has so many psychological and physical health benefits. It is difficult to deny that most people living in the Western culture could benefit from more leisure time. So why do we pressure women to be supermoms?

It is crucial for the wellbeing of future generations of women that we give them back their leisure time and abolish the construct of the supermom. The media is full of unrealistic expectations for women, and young women are learning that they must be completely exhausted all the time to be considered a good mother. Although we cannot always control what is displayed by the media, we can think more critically about how we expect our mothers and our female peers to behave.

Consider these YouTube videos. One has a humorous take on the demands of motherhood while the other warns of actual danger associated with being a supermom.

1. Let It Go – Mom Parody
2. Go Red for Women presents: ‘Just a Little Heart Attack’

 

 

 

Rape Culture: Fear as a Barrier to Leisure Participation

Given where the discussion went on Tuesday re: social control and fear, I thought I would reblog a post that I did for my own blog back in September.

All Things Leisure

fear

For the last 24 hours, I’ve been bothered by a story I saw on the news last night. At Saint Mary’s University this week (in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada), Frosh Leaders led students in a chant that glorified rape (read more here). A video was released of students reciting the chant. It was shocking to watch. Apparently, similar chants have been created in the past and there is some discussion in the news that similar messages are communicated on other campuses. Disturbing.

Since hearing the story, I have been thinking about the norms, values, and attitudes that were being communicated to new students and reinforced for returning students with that chant. I’ve been thinking about female students on that campus who may have been sexually assaulted at some point in their life or who already had anxiety or fear about being assaulted prior to arriving on campus (women are…

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