This study attempted to identify characteristics of latchkey children and their parents and to determine if having certain characteristics made a latchkey arrangement in the family more likely. Family profiles were compiled through self-administered questionaires that were completed by 278 anonymous parents on November 9 and 10, 1989, during parent-teacher conferences at Melrose, Lincolnway, and Layton Elementary Schools in Wooster, Ohio. The families of 32 percent of the respondents had latchkey children who spent an average of 3 hours per week in self-care distributed over 2.5 days per week. Responses to questions were tested for correlation with latchkey arrangements in the home. Parental educational level and family income were not significantly correlated with latchkey arrangements. When asked to select characteristics of the ·~ideal child", the characteristics "has good sense and sound judgement", "gets along well with others", and "is responsible" were selected significantly more often by parents of latchkey children than by parents of non latchkey children. Also, parents of latchkey children believed significantly more strongly than parents of non-latchkey children that "working mothers can establish as warm and secure a relationship with their children as non-working mothers can". The results of this study appeared to support aspects of the symbolic interactionism and conflict theories of social behavior.
© Copyright 1989 Julie Gingery