The Comparison of Early Maladaptive Schemas and Perceived Stress between Iranian Single-Parent and Single-Child Adolescents

Research Article

Austin Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2018;3(1): 1009.

The Comparison of Early Maladaptive Schemas and Perceived Stress between Iranian Single-Parent and Single-Child Adolescentss

Mastari Farahani S1* and Asgharnejad Farid AA2

1Department of Psychology, Human Sciences School, Saveh Branch, Islamic Azad University, Saveh, Iran

2Department of Clinical Psychology, Department of Mental Health, School of Behavioral Sciences and Mental Health-Tehran Institute of Psychiatry, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

*Corresponding author: Mastari Farahani S, Department of Psychology, Human Sciences School, Saveh Branch, Islamic Azad University, Saveh, Iran

Received: August 21, 2018; Accepted: September 24, 2018; Published: October 01, 2018


The family is a group consisting of parents and children living together in a household. Adolescence is one of the most critical developmental stages. Single-parent and single-child phenomena can develop mental health problems in such adolescents. The aim of the study was to compare Early Maladaptive Schemas (EMSs) and perceived stress between Iranian single-parent adolescents and single-child adolescents. This was an Ex-Post Facto research. The sample was 60 Iranian female adolescents (30 single-parent and 30 single-child) who were selected from the Culture, Hazrat Zahra, and Farzanegan schools at Tehran city. The instruments were the Young-Short Form Schema Questionnaire, and Perceived Stress Scale. Data were analyzed using MANOVA, univariate ANOVA, and independent t-test by the SPSS23 software. There were significant differences between two groups in the EMSs of Emotional Deprivation, Mistrust/Abuse, Vulnerability, Emotional Inhibition, Unrelenting Standards, and Insufficient Self-Discipline (p<0.05). There was a significant difference between two groups in perceived stress (p<0.001). The single-parent adolescents showed more EMSs and higher perceived stress than single-child adolescents. The conditions of single-parent adolescents can lead to mental health problems. They should be considered as a high-risk group for the development of psychiatric disorders.

Keywords: Early Maladaptive Schemas; Perceived Stress; Single-Parent; Single-Child; Adolescents; Iran 


The family is the first founder of personality, values, emotions, intellectual, and moral standards. Today, children and teens may not have one of parents in their life. In a single-guardian family, there is only one of the parents and the guardianship of child is left with another parent. Factors of single-guardian family may include death, and divorce. Also adopted children who were born without marriage of their parents together, may live in a single-guardian family [1,2]. Since a child has certain emotional needs in any of his developmental stage; a parent cannot solve them lonely. So the reactions are different at any age stage. In higher ages, the first reaction of children toward a parent's death or divorce includes a mourning period [3,4]. Because teens sometimes have tensions with their parents, additional to mourning, they are blamed themselves and constantly imagine that they were not a good offspring, so they lost their parents. Given the fact that teens are looking for identity and autonomy, they likely less pattern from their parents, tend to peers, or under influence of adults who are interested in them. Therefore, it is difficult for parents who are alone to raise their offsprings [5,6].

The single-guardian children are deprived of intimate relationships of parents. They suffer from mood disorders, insecurity, dependency or rejection. The incidence of mental disorders, suicide, addiction, and harm is high in single-parent children. Literature has shown self-regulation, emotional intelligence and self-concept were significantly higher in Iranian children with two-parent family than children with divorced parents [7]. There is no a friendly and warm relationship in single-parent families. The teens of such families had behavioral and psychological problems [8,9]. Behavioral disorders were lower and academic self-concept was higher in two-parent students than single-parent students. Conduct and hyperactivity disorders were lower in mother single-parent students than father single-parent students, and there was no a significant difference in academic self-concept in mother single-parent and father single-parent students [10,11]. Adolescents with divorced parents had more educational problems such as low academic achievement, tendency to drop out of education, and academic failure than adolescents with two-parent family [12]. Single-parent teens living without their grandparents had more scores in maladaptive schemas compare to single-parent teens living with them [13]. Single-parent teens had more achieved identity, and two-parent teens had more forceclosure identity. There was no significant difference between quality of life among single-parent and two-parent teens. Single-parent teens were more depressive and anxious than two-parent teens [14]. Two-parent teens had more healthy lifestyle, academic achievement, higher self-esteem, and lower aggression than single-parent teens. Two-parent teens more displayed their feelings, emotions, and thoughts [15].

Childbearing is one of the most important functions of family. Single-child is a pervasive phenomenon in Iranian society [16,17]. Today, given the cultural and social conditions, economic problems, concerned about the costs, multi-child problems, marriage in high ages, divorce, and other reasons, the number of single-child families have increased in Iran [18,19,20]. The decline in population growth was been influenced by cultural factors such as the process of globalization, and change from collectivist values to individualism values [21]. One study showed that attitudes toward gender roles had a significant relationship with ideal number of children among Iranian families [22]. Although, single-child is not problematic by itself, but inappropriate parenting styles may have poor consequences [23]. Single-child versus multi-child families can shape behavior and cognition of children in so many ways [24,25]. In single-child families, parents expect all of their wishes from children, and they want children show the best performance in all of areas of life. This demand develops perfectionism in single-children and harm to such children [26,27]. Single-child parents, who do not change their parenting styles during adolescent stage, will cause a double burden on the adolescents that can have adverse effects on them [28]. Found that conduct and attention deficit disorders were more common in multi-child families than single-child families. Some single-child damages include child’s domination, early maturity, reduction in social relationships and family cohesion, poor familial ties, substituting media such as television, computer games, the Internet and satellite [29,30]. Reported children with siblings had more social adjustment [31]. Indicated that single-child families’ kids were more destructive and aggressive, more scapegoated, less social skills, and less popularity in peer group than children with siblings [32]. Found that two-child families’ kids had less internalization and externalization problems than single-child families’ kids.

Early Maladaptive Schemas (EMSs) are deep and pervasive patterns that are formed during childhood or adolescence stages, are continuous in the course of life, associated with one's relationship with oneself and with others; and extremely dysfunctional. The EMSs result in child’s dysfunctional experiences in the relation to parents, sisters, brothers and peers during the early years of life, and can be harmful. The EMSs have developed due to the lack of satisfaction of five essential emotional needs (secure attachment to others and self-regulation; adequacy and identity; freedom to express healthy needs and emotions; self-motivation and recreation; realistic limitations and self-control) in childhood stage. The 18 EMSs have introduced in five main domains [33]. Some interventional approaches such as schema therapy, cognitive therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy were effective on the EMSs, and behavioral disorders [34,35,36]. Stress is a one's reaction to an environment that on the basis one's interpretation, is a threat to his potentials and resources, and is hazard to his healthy. Stressors are situations and events that people force to react to them [37]. Reactions to stress may manifest as physical, behavioral or psychological responses. The intensity of perceived stress refers to the one's belief in the seriousness of stress [38]. Previous studies have shown the EMSs can play a role in high perceived stress [39,40]; in ineffective coping strategies [41]; in maladaptive interpersonal behaviors [42]; failure in doing of psychosocial developmental tasks [43]; in low social functioning and high distress [44]. One study showed that the EMSs Self-sacrifice correlated with depression, and Defectiveness/shame predicted anxiety in Iranian female adolescents [45]. Another study found that the EMSs of Loneliness, Vulnerability, Mistrust/abuse, Defectiveness, Failure, Unrelated standards, and Entitlement correlated with depression, and predicted 38.4% of depression in Iranian adolescents [46]. In this regard, the aim of the study was to compare the EMSs and perceived stress between Iranian single-parent female adolescents and single-child adolescents.

Methods and Materials


This was an Ex-Post Facto research. The sample was 60 Iranian female adolescents 15-17 years old (30 single-parent and 30 single-child) who were selected from the Culture, Hazrat Zahra, and Farzanegan schools at Tehran city.


The study protocol was approved by an institutional review board. With reference to the mentioned schools, students who had criteria of the study were selected. The goals of study, being confidential of information were explained to them. The students provided written consent. They completed the Farsi versions of the Young-Short Form Schema Questionnaire (YSQ-SF), and Perceived Stress Scale (PSS). The questionnaires were performed in the sample individually. Data were analyzed using MANOVA, univariate ANOVA, and independent t-test by the SPSS23 software.


Young-Short Form Schema Questionnaire (YSQ-SF): The YSQ-SF is a self-report tool and consists of 75 items measuring 15 Early Maladaptive Schemas (EMSs). Five main domains of the EMSs contain Disconnection and Rejection (Emotional deprivation, Abandonment, Mistrust, Social Isolation, Defectiveness); Impaired Autonomy and Performance (Failure, Dependence, Vulnerability, Enmeshment); Other-directedness (Subjugation, Self-sacrifice); Over-vigilance and Inhibition (Emotional Inhibition, Unrelenting Standards); and Impaired Limits (Entitlement, Insufficient Self-Discipline). Items are answered on a six-point Likert scale: Completely false (1), False (2), More true than false (3), Somewhat true (4), True (5), and Completely true (6). Each 5 items measure one schema. If mean score of one schema is higher 3, the schema is considered as a maladaptive schema [47,48]. Research has demonstrated that the various version of the YSQ-SF such as Norwegian, Persian, had adequate internal consistency and factor structure [44,49-52]. Found that the Cronbach's α coefficients of EMSs were between 0.49 for Enmeshment/undeveloped self and 0.82 for Abandonment/instability in Iranian single-parent and two-parent female adolescents. In the present study the Cronbach's α of the EMSs were between 0.74 and 0.89, indicating high internal consistency.