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What Are The Effects On Children Of Single Parents?

Common Findings
The forum on childstats.gov declares that children born to a single mother are at greater risk for adverse consequences than those born to a two-parent household.The forum concludes that the consequences are a result of more limited social, emotional and financial resources. These findings are reinforced in Growing Up with a Single Parent: What Hurts, What Helps, a book written by Sara McLanahan and Gary Sandefur. According to McLanahan and Sandefur, children of single-parent households are at increased risk of dropping out of high school. In the book’s findings, boys tended to be idle and teenage girls had a greater risk of pregnancy. Overall, the chances of these children going to college were greatly diminished.According to Amato’s research, sociologists warn that many children of single parents are born into undesirable circumstances.  These children have a higher likelihood of being poor, committing crimes or using drugs. Many sociologists agree that childhood’s adverse effects outlive youth.Amato has also found that children of single-parent families, whose current lifestyles are due to parental death, have been found to fare slightly better than children from other groups.Does Money Matter?
Most studies agree that children from single-parent families are more likely to grow up in financially challenged circumstances. As adults, these same children are also likely to have lower incomes than people who grew up in more affluent two-parent homes.According to Robert E. Rector, Senior Research Fellow of the Heritage Foundation, approximately three-quarters of welfare spending is distributed to single parents and other broken families. There is also evidence to suggest that other problems stem from economic hardship. As Skolnick and Rosencranz point out, children of single-parent families are concentrated in inner cities, where there is often a shortage of quality educational opportunities.

Are Children Raised With Absent Fathers Worse Off?

Children raised by single mothers are more likely to fare worse on a number of dimensions, including their school achievement, their social and emotional development, their health and their success in the labor market. They are at greater risk of parental abuse and neglect (especially from live-in boyfriends who are not their biological fathers), more likely to become teen parents and less likely to graduate from high school or college.[i]  Not all children raised in single parent families suffer these adverse outcomes; it is simply that the risks are greater for them.

Why are the children of divorced or unwed parents at greater risk of experiencing poor outcomes? There are a number of possibilities.

One possibility is that children in two parent families do better because of the increased resources available to them. Single parents only have one income coming into the house. On top of that, single parents often have to spend a greater proportion of their income on child care because they do not have a co-parent to stay home with the child while they work. Even beyond having more income, two parents also have more time to spend with the child. A recent study by Richard Reeves and Kimberly Howard finds that parenting skills vary across demographic groups and that forty-four percent of single mothers fall into the weakest category and only 3 percent in the strongest category.

The weak parenting skills found among single parents in the study may be related not only to the lack of a second parent, but to a lack of income and education as well. Education, in particular, stands out as the most critical factor in explaining poor parenting. But it is not clear that we should look at these variables in isolation from one another. In real life, compared to married parents, single parents tend to be poorer (because there is not a second earner in the family) and less well-educated (in part because early childbearing interrupts or discourages education), and this is what matters for their children. 

Another possibility is that children born to unmarried mothers face more instability in family structure and that this instability results in worse outcomes for the child. In recent years, the focus of social science research has been less on the absence of a father and more on how family instability affects children. In fact, stable single-parent families in which a child does not experience the constant comings and goings of new boyfriends (or girlfriends) or the addition of new half siblings have begun to look like a better environment than “musical” parenthood. [ii]

Lastly, any discussion of the impacts of single parenthood must take into account selection effects. Single parents may be more likely to have other traits (unrelated to their marital status) that cause their children to have worse outcomes than children raised in two-parent homes. It may not be the divorce or unwed birth that causes the problem but instead the underlying personal attributes, mental health or competencies that produce both a broken family and worse outcomes for the child.

Children who end up in a single parent family as the result of the death of one parent do not have the same poor outcomes as children raised by single parents due to a divorce or out of wedlock birth. This may be because death, unlike divorce or out-of-wedlock childbearing, is more likely to be a random event, not connected to the attributes or temperaments of the parents. The lesser disadvantages for children ending up in a single parent family as the result of the death of one parent may reflect this fact and point to the importance of taking unobserved attributes, temperaments or behaviors into account when talking about the consequences of single parenthood for children.

 McLanahan and Sandefur, Growing up with a Single Parent; Jane Waldfogel, Terry-Ann Craigie, and Jeanne Brooks-Gunn. “Fragile families and child wellbeing.”The Future of children (2010), p. 87.

 Waldfogel, Craigie, and Brooks-Gunn, “Fragile families and child wellbeing.”

Does single parenting affect children?

The face of single parenting has changed in recent decades. It’s no longer synonymous with “broken” homes or “illegitimate” children — probably at least in part because single parenting is more common now, and parents are more likely to be on their own because they choose to be. Today in the U.S., around 27 percent of all families with children are headed by a single parent (versus nearly 20 percent in 1980) [source: U.S. Census Bureau].

What’s more, many of the children in these types of situations do very well. U.S. President Barack Obama, for instance, grew up in a non-traditional household, and it didn’t keep him from reaching the highest political office in the nation.

However, while kids raised by single parents are less likely to be stigmatized than they once were, many are still at risk for certain psychological and developmental problems. For example, children from single-parent homes may be more likely to drop out of school, and they are also more vulnerable to alcohol and drug use.

To really get a handle on how single parenting affects children, and how single parents can steer their kids away from these pitfalls, it’s important to look at the various factors that can have a negative impact. The source of the problems is not necessarily single-parenthood itself, but a combination of economic pressures, family instability and conflict between parents.

Ultimately, the answer to whether single parenting affects any particular child is this: It depends. A single parent with adequate resources may provide a stable, nurturing home in which children thrive just as well as those who have two parents. On the other hand, a single parent who’s just scraping by and has little time, energy or skill for parental duties might have children who are at risk for a variety of problems.

In this article, you’ll read about some of the problems that can arise for kids in single-parent households and learn what single parents can do to minimize the risks to their children. To learn more about the potential psychological effects of single parenting, read on to the next page.

6 Positive And 6 Negative Effects Of Single Parenting On a Child

Table Of Contents:

Raising a child as a single parent is very stressful. As a single parent, you have to handle several tasks and make more than a few decisions. You may require effective ways to manage the special challenges single parents usually experience, to support and nurture your little one. Read to know all about single parenting and how you can make life easy and fun for you and your little one.

Single Parenting – What Is It All About?

Single parenting or single parenthood is a parent bringing up a child or children alone without a partner. The reasons for this can vary. They may have been in a relationship which they left, or their partner might have passed away, or been summoned to an active job. Some women choose to be single parents via surrogacy.

When you go back to 500 years, the parenting approach was completely different. There is a phrase that says “it takes a village to raise a child,” which is quite accurate. Then, the child used to be nurtured by parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and close families. With the time and modernization, the ‘village’ shrank, and it still continues to disappear. Human beings have evolved so that the community raises them, but when it is not present, then the dysfunction will potentially develop.

Single Parenting Problems:

You might have just become a divorcee, a widow or separated from your “better half” for some personal reason. Or you may have been a single parent for many years. In any case, the problems you face are not going to vanish magically as some people around you are not ready to change their perspective for you. You might or might not face the following issues:

  • It will be hard to maintain discipline in the home as a single parent will be the only disciplinarian, which can give rise to behavioral problems in children (1).
  • You may feel intense sorrow (and loneliness) when your child envies pals who live with both parents.
  • Making new relationships are difficult especially when your little one is jealous or suspicious. The child can feel scared too because there is a new person in the dynamic/picture.
  • A single parent attaches to her children so badly for company and support that it makes difficult for the child to leave the house.
  • The various responsibilities of child raising, housework, and earning, will not give the parent enough time for themselves. It results in adding stress, fatigue and pressure. That might cause parents to be more impatient and irritable, which can impact their interactions with their children.
  • The income is small which may give less access to child health care. But for single parents who have a decent job, their incomes might still be pretty good. They might actually be able to have good access to child health care because they have more resources.

Let us understand the positive and negative effects of single parenting.

Positive Effects of Single Parenting:

Most times, the negative effects of single parent households are quite apparent; economic troubles and abandonment related trust issues. But, there are also positive effects on raising a child.

1. Strong Mother-Child Bonding:

Spending quality time with your little one creates a unique bond which will be stronger than the one if you were a nuclear parent. It goes well in the case of custodial parents (one who has sole physical custody of the child) and also non-custodial parents who play a significant role in their child’s lives.

  • Realize your sole importance and do not try to diminish it.
  • If you think your bond is not strong, try to work on it by reading stories together, watching movies, playing your child’s favorite games, etc.
  • Your child’s connection with you will not end, and it continues to grow and evolve even after they turn 18.

2. Strong Sense Of Community:

As with the phrase discussed above “it takes a village to raise a child,” it works with single parent families as well. Children who have single parents will also have many supporters. Most cases, the extended family members will play a unique role in a child’s life. Single parents who do not live with their extended families will try participating in community groups which may include single parent support groups, synagogues and churches.

  • Join sole parent support groups
  • Involve yourself in your child’s academics

3. Share Responsibilities:

Children raised by single parents will not just have token responsibilities to do, but their contribution to the complete family system is necessary. In this way, children will understand the value of their contribution and can take pleasure in their work. However, there should be a clear parent-child structure and roles and responsibilities so the child doesn’t become responsible age inappropriately.

  • Let your children recognize the efforts they put in
  • Praise them for doing the house chores
  • Be specific while asking them to offer the help

4. Maturity:

Children will find their parents working hard, and it will force them to collaborate and work along with their parents. Additionally, the children will also learn to manage their disappointments in life. For children to have these skills, they still need guidance from their single parents. Hence, it’s still a collaboration between the parent and the child with clear boundary and structure.

  • If you find your child is disappointed, respond with support, empathy and encouragement.
  • These experiences will help children become empathetic and caring adults.
  • You may not prevent them from feeling disappointed or sad all the time, but you can manage their emotions.

5. Parental Role Modelling:

Children brought up in single parent families will realize their importance in their parents’ lives. Let your children balance their needs with needs of the family. Teach them to consider other’s needs as well.

  • Let your children balance their needs with needs of the family.
  • Teach them to consider other’s needs as well.

Negative Effects of Single Parenting:

You cannot be the best mom out there, and there may be adverse effects as well. However, your style of parenting, attitude, perseverance, and support system should all go a long way minimizing negative effects like:

1. Financial Troubles:

Most single parents work long hours to meet the financial needs of the family. It is necessary to run the household and raise the children. There may be chances when you have to deny your kids from their requirements, and you may have to juggle repeatedly between financial commitments. Your child may thus be not able to take the opportunities he always dreamt of due to financial concerns (2).

2. Low Parenting Quality :

Your way of parenting suffers when many responsibilities add to your everyday life. Your long hours of working may make you miss your child’s important school functions. You may not afford a babysitter to take out some valuable down time. You may react more if you see your child being untidy. You may also disclose your personal, professional or financial issues with your child. But, they will not have the maturity and emotional strength to deal with the situations so as to help you (3).

Take out some time and find ways to have the individual time with each of your children. Have some me-time too; it doesn’t have to be long but may be enough for self-soothing.

3. Children After A Divorce:

If your reason for single parenting is divorce, your children will also suffer from adjustment problems or may have the feeling of being ashamed. If your partner stops looking out after your kids as he or she used to do before, your children may badly suffer resentment. There are also chances they still hold on to bad memories of your divorce.

If you notice your child having trouble sleeping or experiencing problems at school, you should counsel her or take her for counselling. Parent should also spend time with the child and give child the space to grieve.

4. Emotional Problems:

Your children are likely to suffer from self-esteem problems. They may crave for affection, which they will not get enough because of your busy schedule. Thus, they may lose expectations in their relationships later in life. or they will actually have more expectation for affection and company down the road but that will not create a healthy dynamic.  They will take all the blame for their living conditions. It may be difficult for you to stop them from drawing comparisons, but you can help your children build self-regard. Things like acknowledging her when she has done something good and posting a card in her room about her worth will help build self-esteem. Another way to help children build self-esteem is let them take the lead in completing tasks with some challenges. Some single parents have the tender to jump in too quickly to help their children.

5. Loneliness:

It is another challenge most single parents face. They will not only be able to share their difficulties with their spouse but also cannot share their joys as well. If the parent is single because of spouse’s death or any tragedy, it will be even harder for the parent to bear all sorts of responsibilities.

6. Adjustment Difficulties:

Children will also face the issues along with their single parents. They may be a sense of loss, poverty and continuous exposure to parental arguments. While the parent’s sense of loss is because of the missing spouse, a child’s loss will be a guide or a protector. It will be tougher for children at their young age.

Helpful Ways to Ease Single Parenting Stress:

Raising kids, without the support of your better half, is not an easy thing to do as you have to single-handedly face a fair share of concerns, dilemmas, and other issues. However, don’t lose heart over any issues! You can cope with the stress with a great amount of planning and with these simple tips.

1. Set Up A Routine:

Structure your day in such a way that it offers a sense of security to your child. Maintain a relatively consistent mealtime, wake up time and bedtime. If you miss spending with your kids during the daytime because of your job, do not try to make it up for the night. Letting them stay late night is not a right approach’ as told be Leah Klungness, Ph.D., a psychologist in Long Island and coauthor of The Complete Single Mother.

Children need to sleep more and as a parent; you need to take some time for your kids to set up a routine (4).

2. Taking Care Of Yourself:

Your child may observe you being angry, upset or sad when major life issues crop up. It is quite common in all families, be it a single parent or nuclear families. The only thing you should do is to let her know your negative emotions are not because of her, and you love her more than anything else.

If your child is matured enough to understand, share what is affecting you so much with her. When you express your feelings, even she will feel free to express herself more.

Also, do not discuss grown-up issues like financial problems or conflict with the former partner with your child. It can make her anxious. Share such matters only with other adults who can morally comfort you.

3. Offer Unconditional Love To Your Children:

Even after separating from your partner, your kids will still look for the same love and concern they used to get before. They need the same protection, routine, encouragement to learn and support from a loving and trusting parent. It may be hard for you to show the same support and warmth in the initial days, but how can you show her the care?

Make most of the time: You can spend quality time with your little one anywhere and anytime. Chat with her on the way to her school or child care. Talk to her during the dinnertime rather than encouraging her to watch television. Play sing-a-along on a ride, narrate funny short stories at bedtime, play word games, and you can do more.

Pique the interest: Talk to your child about her favorite things, from books to sport to music. Try to awaken the interest by playing her favorite computer game or sport along with her.

Positive attention: Smile with her, laugh with her and hug her as much as you can. Let her know that you are happy to see her in the morning and when she is back home from her school or child care.

One on One time: Try to contribute some time for each child. It may be a walk, reading a book before bedtime, playing a game or talking. You can plan some outing with younger one when elder children are at school.

Praise: Whenever your child achieves something, praise her. Praise for the way he is growing up and coping. For instance, you may say, ‘I am proud of your result in academics.

4. Set Ground Rules:

You will not have anyone else to back you up, so establishing certain ground rules will help to raise your children without much effort.

Use praise: Look for the ways to praise good behavior in your child. Rewarding with points is the effective way to instill good behavior in them.

Firm and serious voice tone: Interacting in a low voice is an easy tool for better parent-child communication.

Boundaries: Set up some rules that help to know whether the behavior is acceptable or not. Your child should understand if she is crossing the limitations.

Isolate or redirect: If your child is continuously behaving badly, you have to redirect her ways. If the problem is about television, you should turn it off; or if it is about fighting for toys, snatch them away.

Loss of privileges: Your child should know the cost of misbehavior.

Ignore: If some of the misbehavior is to draw attention, you should ignore it right away.

5. Try Handling Finances:

Taking care of the family on a single income or being dependent on the former spouse is the toughest aspects of single parenting. It is important for you to understand about long term investments, budget your money accordingly, plan for retirement and if possible you should try to earn more by doing an additional job.

6. Support Groups:

It is evident that single parents need help to take care of kids when they are on run to do errands or someone to talk when they are disturbed. You can ask your extended family and friends to help. You may also join a support group, or hire a babysitter to take care of your little one.

7. Give Honest Replies:

It is quite obvious that your child may question you about the other parent or the changes in the family. Try answering her in an honest and open way. Also, offer her the required support and help she required to deal with those emotions.

8. Remove Guilt:

You may feel guilty for the things you cannot provide or the time you may spend with your kids. For your good, try to focus on all the things to accomplish for the day and also show the love, comfort and attention to your little ones. If you feel guilty about your divorce or the ways that have separated you from your partner, join a support group for counseling.

9. Remain Positive:

You may quickly become overwhelmed by the demands and responsibilities of single parenting. You may also suffer the pain of death or divorce of your spouse. Despite all these, you have to stay positive as your kids may easily get affected by your moods. Exercise regularly, have enough rest and maintain a healthy diet to balance your life in all the ways. You may share some of the grievances with your kids, but also let them understand they are not the causes of your problems.

10. Set Up Role Models:

Children will benefit when you give them examples of some real personalities. Look within your family or friends of any sex to be role models for your kids. Also, set a gathering where the responsible adult spends some quality time with your little one.

Hope our article helps you with single parenting and makes you a better parent than you are. If you have any feedback, please share it here.

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The following two tabs change content below.Yy Wei is a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) and certified sex therapist (CST) through The American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT). She is the owner and director of The Relationship Center of Colorado. Has more than a decade’s experience in providing relationship therapy, couples & marriage counseling, and sex therapy. Yy graduated in Psychology from the… moreSagari was a math graduate and studied counseling psychology in postgraduate college, which she used to understand people better. Her interest in reading about people made her take up articles on kids and their behavior. She was meticulous in her research and gave information that could be of help to parents in times of need. An animal lover, vegan, and… more

The impact of family formation change on the cognitive, social, and emotional well-being of the next generation

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research

Paul R. Amato

Summary: How have recent changes in U.S.
family structure affected the cognitive, social, and emotional
well-being of the nation’s children? Paul Amato examines the effects of
family formation on children and evaluates whether current
marriage-promotion programs are likely to meet children’s needs. Amato
begins by investigating how children in households with both biological
parents differ from children in households with only one biological
parent. He shows that children growing up with two continuously married
parents are less likely to experience a wide range of cognitive,
emotional, and social problems, not only during childhood but also in
adulthood. Although it is not possible to demonstrate that family
structure causes these differences, studies using a variety of
sophisticated statistical methods suggest that this is the case. Amato
then asks what accounts for the differences between these two groups of
children. He shows that compared with other children, those who grow up
in stable, two-parent families have a higher standard of living, receive
more effective parenting, experience more cooperative co-parenting, are
emotionally closer to both parents, and are subjected to fewer stressful
events and circumstances. Finally, Amato assesses how current
marriage-promotion policies will affect the well-being of children. He
finds that interventions that increase the share of children who grow up
with both parents would improve the overall well-being of U.S. children
only modestly, because children’s social or emotional problems have many
causes, of which family structure is but one. But interventions that
lower only modestly the overall share of U.S. children experiencing
various problems could nevertheless lower substantially the number of
children experiencing them. Even a small decline in percentages, when
multiplied by the many children in the population, is a substantial
social benefit.

Introduction
Perhaps the most profound change in the American
family over the past four decades has been the decline in the share of
children growing up in households with both biological parents. Because
many social scientists, policymakers, and members of the general public
believe that a two-parent household is the optimal setting for
children’s development, the decline in such households has generated
widespread concern about the well-being of American children. This
concern has generated interest among policymakers in programs and
interventions to increase the share of children growing up in stable,
two-parent families. Not everyone, however, agrees with these policies;
many observers believe that it is either inappropriate, or futile, for
government to attempt to affect children’s family structures.

My goal in this article is to inform this debate by
addressing three questions. First, how do children in households with
only one biological parent differ in terms of their cognitive, social,
and emotional well-being from children in households with both
biological parents? Second, what accounts for the observed differences
between these two groups of children? And finally, how might current
policies to strengthen marriage, decrease divorce, and lower nonmarital
fertility affect the wellbeing of children in the United States?

Research on the effects of family structure
on children


The rise in the divorce rate during the 1960s and 1970s prompted social
scientists to investigate how differing family structures affect
children. Their research focus initially was on children of divorced
parents, but it expanded to include out-of-wedlock children and those in
other nontraditional family structures.

Parental divorce

Early studies generally supported the assumption that children who
experience parental divorce are prone to a variety of academic,
behavioral, and emotional problems.1
In 1971, psychologists Judith Wallerstein and Joan Kelly
began an influential long-term study of 60 divorced families and 131
children. According to the authors, five years after divorce, one-third
of the children were adjusting well and had good relationships with both
parents. Another group of children (more than one-third of the sample)
were clinically depressed, were doing poorly in school, had difficulty
maintaining friendships, experienced chronic problems such as sleep
disturbances, and continued to hope that their parents would reconcile. 2

Despite these early findings, other studies in the
1970s challenged the dominant view that divorce is uniformly bad for
children. For example, Mavis Hetherington and her colleagues studied 144
preschool children, half from recently divorced maternal-custody
families and half from continuously married two-parent families. During
the first year of the study, the children with divorced parents
exhibited more behavioral and emotional problems than did the children
with continuously married parents. Two years after divorce, however,
children with divorced parents no longer exhibited an elevated number of
problems (although a few difficulties lingered for boys). Despite this
temporary improvement, a later wave of data collection revealed that the
remarriage of the custodial mother was followed by additional problems
among the children, especially daughters.3

Trying to make sense of this research literature can
be frustrating, because the results of individual studies vary
considerably: some suggest serious negative effects of divorce, others
suggest modest effects, and yet others suggest no effects. Much of this
inconsistency is due to variations across studies in the types of
samples, the ages of the children, the outcomes examined, and the
methods of analysis. To summarize general trends across such a large and
varied body of research, social scientists use a technique known as
meta-analysis. By calculating an effect size for each study (which
reflects the difference between two groups expressed in a common
metric), meta-analysis makes it possible to pool results across many
studies and adjust for variations such as those noted.4

In 1991, Bruce Keith and I published the first
meta-analysis dealing with the effects of divorce on children.5
Our analysis summarized the results of ninety-three studies published in
the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s and confirmed that children with divorced
parents are worse off than those with continuously married parents on
measures of academic success (school grades, scores on standardized
achievement tests), conduct (behavior problems, aggression),
psychological well-being (depression, distress symptoms), self-esteem
(positive feelings about oneself, perceptions of self-efficacy), and
peer relations (number of close friends, social support from peers), on
average. Moreover, children in divorced families tend to have weaker
emotional bonds with mothers and fathers than do their peers in
two-parent families. These results supported the conclusion that the
rise in divorce had lowered the average level of child well-being.

Our meta-analysis also indicated, however, that the
estimated effects of parental divorce on children’s well-being are
modest rather than strong. We concluded that these modest differences
reflect widely varying experiences within both groups of children. Some
children growing up with continuously married parents are exposed to
stressful circumstances, such as poverty, serious conflict between
parents, violence, inept parenting, and mental illness or substance
abuse, that increase the risk of child maladjustment. Correspondingly,
some children with divorced parents cope well, perhaps because their
parents are able to separate amicably and engage in cooperative
co-parenting following marital dissolution.

In a more recent meta-analysis, based on sixty-seven
studies conducted during the 1990s, I again found that children with
divorced parents, on average, scored significantly lower on various
measures of wellbeing than did children with continuously married
parents.6 As before, the
differences between the two groups were modest rather than large.
Nevertheless, the more recent meta-analyses revealed that children with
divorced parents continued to have lower average levels of cognitive,
social, and emotional well-being, even in a decade in which divorce had
become common and widely accepted.

Other studies have shown that the differences in
well-being between children with divorced and children with continuously
married parents persist well into adulthood. For example, adults who
experience parental divorce as a child have lower socioeconomic
attainment, an increased risk of having a nonmarital birth, weaker bonds
with parents, lower psychological well-being, poorer marital quality,
and an elevated risk of seeing their own marriage end in divorce. 7
Overall, the evidence is consistent that parental divorce
during childhood is linked with a wide range of problems in adulthood.

Children born outside marriage


Children born outside marriage have been studied less frequently than
have children of divorce. Nevertheless, like children with divorced
parents, children who grow up with a single parent because they were
born out of wedlock are more likely than children living with
continuously married parents to experience a variety of cognitive,
emotional, and behavioral problems. Specifically, compared with children
who grow up in stable, two-parent families, children born outside
marriage reach adulthood with less education, earn less income, have
lower occupational status, are more likely to be idle (that is, not
employed and not in school), are more likely to have a nonmarital birth
(among daughters), have more troubled marriages, experience higher rates
of divorce, and report more symptoms of depression. 8

A few studies have compared children of unmarried
single parents and divorced single parents. Despite some variation
across studies, this research generally shows that the long-term risks
for most problems are comparable in these two groups. For example, Sara
McLanahan and Gary Sandefur, using the National Survey of Families and
Households, found that 31 percent of youth with divorced parents dropped
out of high school, compared with 37 percent of youth born outside
marriage (the corresponding figure for youth with continuously married
parents was 13 percent). Similarly, 33 percent of daughters with
divorced parents had a teen birth, compared with 37 percent of daughters
born outside marriage (the corresponding figure for daughters with
continuously married parents was 11 percent).9
Other studies that have compared offspring in these two groups yield
similar results with respect to occupational attainment, earned income,
depression, and the risk of seeing one’s own marriage end in divorce. 10

Although it is sometimes assumed that children born
to unwed mothers have little contact with their fathers, about 40
percent of unmarried mothers are living with the child’s father at the
time of birth.11 If
one-third of all children are born to unmarried parents, and if 40
percent of these parents are cohabiting, then about one out of every
eight infants lives with two biological but unmarried parents.
Structurally, these households are similar to households with two
married parents. And young children are unlikely to be aware of their
parents’ marital status. Nevertheless, cohabiting parents tend to be
more disadvantaged than married parents. They have less education, earn
less income, report poorer relationship quality, and experience more
mental health problems.12
These considerations suggest that children living with cohabiting
biological parents may be worse off, in some respects, than children
living with two married biological parents.

Consistent with this assumption, Susan L. Brown
found that children living with cohabiting biological parents, compared
with children living with continuously married parents, had more
behavioral problems, more emotional problems, and lower levels of school
engagement (that is, caring about school and doing homework).13
Parents’ education, income, psychological well-being, and parenting
stress explained most but not all of these differences. In other
words, unmarried cohabiting parents, compared with married parents, had
fewer years of education, earned less income, had lower levels of
psychological well-being, and reported more stress in parenting. These
factors, in turn, partly accounted for the elevated number of problems
among their children.

The risk of relationship dissolution also is
substantially higher for cohabiting couples with children than for
married couples with children. 14
For example, the Fragile Families Study indicates that about one-fourth
of cohabiting biological parents are no longer living together one year
after the child’s birth.15
Another study of first births found that 31 percent of cohabiting
couples had broken up after five years, as against 16 percent of married
couples.16 Growing up with
two continuously cohabiting biological parents is rare. Using the 1999
National Survey of American Families, Brown found that only 1.5 percent
of all children lived with two cohabiting parents at the time of the
survey.17 Similarly, an
analysis of the 1995 Adolescent Health Study (Add Health) revealed that
less than one-half of 1 percent of adolescents aged sixteen to eighteen
had spent their entire childhoods living with two continuously
cohabiting biological parents.18

Unresolved questions remain about children born to
cohabiting parents who later marry. If cohabiting parents marry after
the birth of a child, is the child at any greater risk than if the
parents marry before having the child? Correspondingly, do children
benefit when their cohabiting parents get married? To the extent that
marriage increases union stability and binds fathers more strongly to
their children, marriage among cohabiting parents may improve children’s
long-term well-being. Few studies, however, have addressed this issue.

Death of a parent

Some children live with a single parent not because of divorce or
because they were born outside marriage but because their other parent
has died. Studies that compare children who experienced the death of a
parent with children separated from a parent for other reasons yield
mixed results. The Amato and Keith meta-analysis found that children who
experienced a parent’s death scored lower on several forms of well-being
than did children living with continuously married parents. Children who
experienced a parent’s death, however, scored significantly higher on
several measures of well-being than did children with divorced parents.19
McLanahan and Sandefur found that children with a deceased parent were
no more likely than children with continuously married parents to drop
out of high school. Daughters with a deceased parent, however, were more
likely than teenagers living with both parents to have a nonmarital
birth.20 Another study found
that although adults whose parents divorced or never married during
their childhood had lower levels of socioeconomic attainment than did
adults who grew up with continuously married parents, adults who
experienced the death of a parent as a child did not differ from those
with two continuously married parents.21
In contrast, Amato found that all causes of separation from a parent
during childhood, including parental death, were linked with increased
symptoms of depression in adulthood. 22
Although the research findings are mixed, these studies
suggest that experiencing the death of a parent during childhood puts
children at risk for a number of problems, but not as much as does
divorce or out-of-wedlock birth.

Discordant two-parent families


Most studies in this literature have compared children living with a
single parent with a broad group of children living with continuously
married parents. Some two-parent families, however, function better than
others. Marriages marked by chronic, overt conflict and hostility are intact” structurally but are not necessarily good environments in which
to raise children. Some early studies compared children living with
divorced parents and children living with two married but discordant
parents. In general, these studies found that children in high-conflict
households experience many of the same problems as do children with
divorced parents. In fact, some studies show that children with
discordant married parents are worse off than children with divorced
parents.23

A more recent generation of long-term studies has
shown that the effects of divorce vary with the degree of marital
discord that precedes divorce. When parents exhibit chronic and overt
conflict, children appear to be better off, in the long run, if their
parents split up rather than stay together. But when parents exhibit
relatively little overt conflict, children appear to be better off if
their parents stay together. In other words, children are particularly
at risk when low-conflict marriages end in divorce.24
In a twenty-year study, Alan Booth and I found that the
majority of marriages that ended in divorce fell into the low-conflict
group. Spouses in these marriages did not fight frequently or express
hostility toward their partners. Instead, they felt emotionally
estranged from their spouses, and many ended their marriages to seek
greater happiness with new partners. Although many parents saw this
transition as positive, their children often viewed it as unexpected,
inexplicable, and unwelcome. Children and parents, it is clear, often
have different interpretations of family transitions.25

Stepfamilies

Although rates of remarriage have declined in recent years, most
divorced parents eventually remarry. Similarly, many women who have had
a nonmarital birth eventually marry men who are not the fathers of their
children. Adding a stepfather to the household usually improves
children’s standard of living. Moreover, in a stepfamily, two adults are
available to monitor children’s behavior, provide supervision, and
assist children with everyday problems. For these reasons, one might
assume that children generally are better off in stepfamilies than in
single-parent households. Studies consistently indicate, however, that
children in stepfamilies exhibit more problems than do children with
continuously married parents and about the same number of problems as do
children with single parents.26
In other words, the marriage of a single parent (to someone other than
the child’s biological parent) does not appear to improve the
functioning of most children.

Although the great majority of parents view the
formation of a stepfamily positively, children tend to be less
enthusiastic. Stepfamily formation is stressful for many children
because it often involves moving (generally to a different neighborhood
or town), adapting to new people in the household, and learning new
rules and routines. Moreover, early relationships between stepparents
and stepchildren are often tense. Children, especially adolescents,
become accustomed to a substantial degree of autonomy in single-parent
households. They may resent the monitoring and supervision by
stepparents and react with hostility when stepparents attempt to exert
authority. Some children experience loyalty conflicts and fear that
becoming emotionally close to a stepparent implies betraying the
nonresident biological parent. Some become jealous because they must
share parental time and attention with the stepparent. And for some
children, remarriage ends any lingering hopes that the two biological
parents will one day reconcile.27
Finally, stepchildren are overrepresented in official reports of
child abuse.28 Of course,
the great majority of stepparents are not abusive. Moreover, survey data
have not supported the notion that children in stepfamilies are more
likely to be abused than are children in two-parent families.
29
Nevertheless, even a slight trend in this direction
would represent an additional risk for children in stepfamilies.

Although relationships in many stepfamilies are
tense, stepparents are still able to make positive contributions to
their stepchildren’s lives. If stepfamilies survive the early crisis”
stage, then close and supportive relationships between stepparents and
stepchildren often develop. Research suggests that these relationships
can serve as important resources for children’s development and
emotional well-being.30

The increase in nonmarital cohabitation has focused
attention on the distinction between married-couple stepfamilies and
cohabiting-couple stepfamilies.” Christine Buchanan, Eleanor Maccoby,
and Sanford Dornbusch found that adolescents had fewer emotional and
behavior problems following divorce if their mothers remarried than if
they cohabited with a partner.31
Similarly, two studies of African American families found that children
were better off in certain respects if they lived with stepfathers than
with their mother’s cohabiting partners. 32
In contrast, Susan Brown found no significant differences between
children in married and cohabiting stepfamilies.33
Although these data suggest that children may be better off if single
mothers marry their partners rather than cohabit, the small number of
studies on this topic makes it difficult to draw firm conclusions.

Variations by gender of child


Several early influential studies found that boys in divorced families
had more adjustment problems than did girls.34
Given that boys usually live with their mothers following family
disruption, the loss of contact with the same-gender parent could
account for such a difference. In addition boys, compared with girls,
may be exposed to more conflict, receive less support from parents and
others (because they are believed to be tougher), and be picked on more
by custodial mothers (because sons may resemble their fathers).
Subsequent studies, however, have failed to find consistent gender
differences in children’s reactions to divorce.

The meta-analyses on children of divorce provide the
most reliable evidence on this topic. The Amato and Keith meta-analysis
of studies conducted before the 1990s revealed one significant gender
difference: the estimated negative effect of divorce on social
adjustment was stronger for boys than girls. In other areas, however,
such as academic achievement, conduct, and psychological adjustment, no
differences between boys and girls were apparent.35
In my meta-analysis of studies conducted in the 1990s, the estimated
effect of divorce on children’s conduct problems was stronger for boys
than for girls, although no other gender differences were apparent.36
Why the earlier studies suggest a gender difference in social adjustment
and the more recent studies suggest a gender difference in conduct
problems is unclear. Nevertheless, taken together, these meta-analyses
provide some limited support for the notion that boys are more
susceptible than girls to the detrimental consequences of divorce.

Variations by race of child


Compared with whites, African Americans have a higher rate of marital
disruption and a substantially higher rate of nonmarital births. Because
relatively little research has focused on this topic, however, it is
difficult to reach firm conclusions about racial differences in
children’s well-being in single-parent households. Some research
suggests that the academic deficits associated with living with a single
mother are less pronounced for black than for white children.37
One study found that growing up in a single-parent family
predicted lower socioeconomic attainment among white women, white men,
and black women, but not among black men. 38
McLanahan and Sandefur found that white offspring from single-parent
families were more likely to drop out of high school than were African
American offspring from single-parent families.39
African American children may thus adjust better than white children to
life in single- parent families, although the explanation for this
difference is not clear. Other studies, however, have found few racial
differences in the estimated effects of growing up with a single parent
on long-term outcomes.40

Some studies suggest that stepfathers play a
particularly beneficial role in African American families. One study
found that in African American families (but not European American
families), children who lived with stepfathers were less likely to drop
out of high school or (among daughters) have a nonmarital birth.41
Similarly, a study of African Americans living in high-poverty
neighborhoods found that girls living with their mothers and stepfathers
were less likely than girls living with single mothers to become
sexually active or pregnant. Interestingly, the protective effect of a
stepfather held only when mothers were married and not when they were
cohabiting.42 Another study
yielded comparable results: among African Americans, adolescents living
with stepfathers were better off in many respects than were adolescents
living with single mothers, but adolescents living with cohabiting
parents were worse off than those living with single mothers.43
The reasons for these racial differences are not clear, and
future research is required to understand how interpersonal dynamics
differ in white and African American stepfamilies.

Why do single-parent families put children
at risk?


Researchers have several theories to explain why children growing up
with single parents have an elevated risk of experiencing cognitive,
social, and emotional problems. Most refer either to the economic and
parental resources available to children or to the stressful events and
circumstances to which these children must adapt.

Economic hardship

For a variety of reasons documented elsewhere in this volume, most
children living with single parents are economically disadvantaged. It
is difficult for poor single parents to afford the books, home
computers, and private lessons that make it easier for their children to
succeed in school. Similarly, they cannot afford clothes, shoes, cell
phones, and other consumer goods that give their children status among
their peers. Moreover, many live in rundown neighborhoods with high
crime rates, low-quality schools, and few community services. Consistent
with these observations, many studies have shown that economic resources
explain some of the differences in well-being between children with
single parents and those with continuously married parents.44
Research showing that children do better at school and exhibit fewer
behavioral problems when nonresident fathers pay child support likewise
suggests the importance of income in facilitating children’s well-being
in single-parent households. 45

Quality of parenting


Regardless of family structure, the quality of parenting is one of the
best predictors of children’s emotional and social well-being. Many
single parents, however, find it difficult to function effectively as
parents. Compared with continuously married parents, they are less
emotionally supportive of their children, have fewer rules, dispense
harsher discipline, are more inconsistent in dispensing discipline,
provide less supervision, and engage in more conflict with their
children.46 Many of these
deficits in parenting presumably result from struggling to make ends
meet with limited financial resources and trying to raise children
without the help of the other biological parent. Many studies link inept
parenting by resident single parents with a variety of negative outcomes
among children, including poor academic achievement, emotional problems,
conduct problems, low self-esteem, and problems forming and maintaining
social relationships. Other studies show that depression among custodial
mothers, which usually detracts from effective parenting, is related to
poor adjustment among offspring.47

Although the role of the resident parent (usually
the mother) in promoting children’s well-being is clear, the nonresident
parent (usually the father) can also play an important role. In a
meta-analysis of sixty-three studies of nonresident fathers and their
children, Joan Gilbreth and I found that children had higher academic
achievement and fewer emotional and conduct problems when nonresident
fathers were closely involved in their lives.48
We also found that studies of nonresident fathers in the
1990s were more likely than earlier studies to report positive effects
of father involvement. Nonresident fathers may thus be enacting the
parent role more successfully now than in the past, with beneficial
consequences for children. Nevertheless, analysts consistently find that
many nonresident fathers are minimally engaged with their children.
Between one-fourth and one-third of nonresident fathers maintain
frequent contact with their children, and a roughly equal share of
fathers maintains little or no contact.49
Interviews with children reveal that losing contact with fathers is one
of the most painful outcomes of divorce.50

Children also thrive when their parents have a
cooperative co-parental relationship. When parents agree on the rules
and support one another’s decisions, children learn that parental
authority is not arbitrary. Parental agreement also means that children
are not subjected to inconsistent discipline when they misbehave.
Consistency between parents helps children to learn and internalize
social norms and moral values. Another benefit of a positive co-parental
relationship is the modeling of interpersonal skills, such as showing
respect, communicating clearly, and resolving disputes through
negotiation and compromise. Children who learn these skills by observing
their parents have positive relationships with peers and, later, with
intimate partners. When children’s parents live in separate households,
however, cooperative coparenting is not the norm. Although some parents
remain locked in conflict for many years, especially if a divorce is
involved, most gradually disengage and communicate little with one
another. At best, most children living with single parents experience parallel” parenting rather than cooperative co-parenting.51

Exposure to stress

Children living with single parents are exposed to more stressful
experiences and circumstances than are children living with continuously
married parents. Although scholars define stress in somewhat different
ways, most assume that it occurs when external demands exceed people’s
coping resources. This results in feelings of emotional distress, a
reduced capacity to function in school, work, and family roles, and an
increase in physiological indicators of arousal.52
Economic hardship, inept parenting, and loss of contact
with a parent (as noted earlier) can be stressful for children.
Observing conflict and hostility between resident and nonresident
parents also is stressful.53
Conflict between nonresident parents appears to be particularly harmful
when children feel that they are caught in the middle, as when one
parent denigrates the other parent in front of the child, when children
are asked to transmit critical or emotionally negative messages from one
parent to the other, and when one parent attempts to recruit the child
as an ally against the other.54
Interparental conflict is a direct stressor for children, and it
can also interfere with their attachments to parents, resulting in
feelings of emotional insecurity.55

Moving is a difficult experience for many children,
especially when it involves losing contact with neighborhood friends.
Moreover, moves that require changing schools can put children out of
step with their classmates in terms of the curriculum. Children with
single parents move more frequently than other children do, partly
because of economic hardship (which forces parents to seek less
expensive accommodation in other areas) and partly because single
parents form new romantic attachments (as when a single mother marries
and moves in with her new husband). Studies show that frequent moving
increases the risk of academic, behavioral, and emotional problems for
children with single parents.56
For many children, as noted, the addition of a stepparent to the
household is a stressful change. And when remarriages end in divorce,
children are exposed to yet more stressful transitions. Indeed, some
studies indicate that the number of transitions that children experience
while growing up (including multiple parental divorces, cohabitations,
and remarriages) is a good predictor of their behavioral and emotional
problems as adolescents and young adults.57

The selection” perspective


Explanations that focus on economic hardship, the quality of parenting,
and exposure to stress all assume that the circumstances associated with
living in a single-parent household negatively affect children’s
well-being. A quite different explanation and the main alternative to
these views is that many poorly adjusted individuals either never marry
in the first place or see their marriages end in divorce. In other
words, these people carry traits that select” them into single
parenthood. Parents can transmit these problematic traits to their
children either through genetic inheritance or inept parenting. For
example, a mother with an antisocial personality may pass this genetic
predisposition to her children. Her personality also may contribute to
her marriage’s ending in divorce. Her children will thus be at risk of
exhibiting antisocial behavior, but the risk has little to do with the
divorce. The discovery that concordance (similarity between siblings)
for divorce among adults is higher among identical than fraternal twins
suggests that genes may predispose some people to engage in behaviors
that increase the risk of divorce.58
If parents’ personality traits and other genetically transmitted
predispositions are causes of single parenthood as well as childhood
problems, then the apparent effects on children of growing up with a
single parent are spurious.

Because researchers cannot conduct a true experiment
and randomly allocate children to live with single or married parents,
it is difficult to rule out the selection perspective. Nevertheless,
many studies cast doubt on it. For example, some have found significant
differences between children with divorced and continuously married
parents even after controlling for personality traits such as depression
and antisocial behavior in parents.59
Others have found higher rates of problems among children
with single parents, using statistical methods that adjust for
unmeasured variables that, in principle, should include parents’
personality traits as well as many genetic influences.60
And a few studies have found that the link between parental divorce and
children’s problems is similar for adopted and biological children a
finding that cannot be explained by genetic transmission.61
Another study, based on a large sample of twins, found that
growing up in a single-parent family predicted depression in adulthood
even with genetic resemblance controlled statistically.62
Although some degree of selection still may be operating,
the weight of the evidence strongly suggests that growing up without two
biological parents in the home increases children’s risk of a variety of
cognitive, emotional, and social problems.

Implications of policies to increase the
share of children in two-parent families


Since social science research shows so clearly the advantages enjoyed by
children raised by continuously married parents, it is no wonder that
policymakers and practitioners are interested in programs to strengthen
marriage and increase the proportion of children who grow up in such
families. Realistically speaking, what could such programs accomplish?
In what follows, I present estimates of how they could affect the share
of children in the United States who experience various types of
problems during adolescence.

Adolescent family structure and
well-being in the add health study


To make these estimates, I used the Adolescent Health Study a national
long-term sample of children in junior high and high schools relying on
data from Wave I, conducted in 1995. Table 1 is based on adolescents’
responses to questions about behavioral, emotional, and academic
problems specifically, whether they had repeated a grade, been
suspended from school, engaged in delinquent behavior, engaged in a
violent altercation, received counseling or therapy for an emotional
problem, smoked cigarettes regularly during the last month, thought
about suicide, or attempted suicide. Delinquency involved damaging
property, shoplifting, breaking into a house or building to steal
something, stealing something worth more than $50, or taking a car
without the owner’s permission. Violence was defined as engaging in a
physical fight as a result of which the opponent had received medical
attention (including bandaging a cut) or a fight involving multiple
people or using a weapon to threaten someone. The results are based on
responses from more than 17,000 children between the ages of twelve and
eighteen, and the data have been weighted to make them nationally
representative.63

Responses are shown separately for adolescents
living with continuously married parents and for those living with one
parent only. The results are striking. Adolescents living with single
parents consistently report encountering more problems than those living
with continuously married parents. Thirty percent of the former reported
that they had repeated a grade, as against 19 percent of the latter.
Similarly, 40 percent of children living with single parents reported
having been suspended from school, compared with 21 percent of children
living with continuously married parents. Children in stable, two-parent
families also were less likely to have engaged in delinquency or
violence, seen a therapist for an emotional problem, smoked during the
previous month, or thought about or attempted suicide. These findings
are consistent with research demonstrating that children living with
continuously married parents report fewer problems than do other
children. The increase in risk associated with living without both
parents ranged from about 23 percent (for being involved in a violent
altercation) to 127 percent (for receiving emotional therapy).

To estimate the frequency of these problems in the
larger population, I relied on the Add Health finding that 55 percent of
adolescents between the ages of twelve to eighteen lived with both
biological parents at the time of the survey. Given that rates of
divorce and nonmarital births have not changed much since the mid-1990s,
this figure is probably close to the current figure, and it is nearly
identical to the estimate provided by Susan Brown from the 1999 National
Survey of American Families. (Because most children in the sample were
younger than eighteen and could still experience a parental divorce or
death before reaching adulthood, these results are consistent with the
projection that about half of all children will live continuously with
both biological parents until adulthood.) The third column in table 1
shows the estimated share of adolescents in the U.S. population who
experience each problem, based on the data in the first two columns.64

How would increasing the share of children growing
up in stable, two-parent families affect the overall levels of these
problems in the population? To provide estimates, I considered three
levels of social change. The fourth column in table 1 provides estimates
of adolescent outcomes if the share of adolescents living with two
biological parents were the same as it was in 1980, the year in which
the share of marriages ending in divorce reached its peak but before the
large increase in nonmarital births during the 1980s and early 1990s.
The fifth column provides estimates of adolescent outcomes if the share
of adolescents living with continuously married parents were the same as
it was in 1970, the year just before the massive increase in divorce
rates during the 1970s. The final column provides estimates of
adolescent outcomes if the share of adolescents living with continuously
married parents were the same as it was in 1960, a period of relative
family stability in the United States.65

Column four shows that if the share of adolescents
living with two biological parents were the same today as it was in
1980, the share of adolescents repeating a grade would fall from 24
percent to about 23 percent. Similarly, if the share of adolescents
living with two biological parents returned to its 1970 level, the share
of adolescents repeating a grade would fall to about 22 percent.
Finally, if the share of adolescents living with two biological parents
increased to its 1960 level, the share of adolescents repeating a grade
would fall to 21 percent.

How is it that increasing the share of children
growing up with continuously married parents has such a relatively small
effect on the share of children experiencing these problems? The
explanation is that many children living with continuously married
parents also experience these problems. In general, these findings,
which are likely to disappoint some readers, are consistent with a
broad, sociological understanding of human behavior. Most behaviors are
determined by numerous social, cultural, individual, and biological
factors. No single variable, such as family structure, has a monolithic
effect on children’s development and behavior. Although increasing the
share of children growing up in stable, two-parent families would lower
the incidence of all the problems shown in table 1, clearly it is not a
panacea for the problems confronting our nation’s youth.

Individual versus public health
perspectives


Whether one views the estimated changes in table 1 as small or big
depends in large part on whether one adopts an individual perspective or
a public health perspective. Attempts during the past twenty years by
public health authorities to address cholesterol-related health problems
help to illustrate this distinction. Many epidemiological and clinical
studies have shown that a high level of blood cholesterol is a risk
factor for cardiovascular disease. How large is the estimated effect of
cholesterol on cardiovascular disease? Consider a group of male
nonsmokers age fifty with normal blood pressure. Men in this group with
high total cholesterol (defined as 250 mg/dL) have a 7 percent chance of
suffering a heart attack during the next decade. In comparison, men in
this group with low total cholesterol (defined as 190 mg/dL) have only a
4 percent chance. In other words, decreasing total cholesterol from a dangerous” level to a safe” level would lower the risk of having a
heart attack for men in this group by 3 percentage points. Based on
projections like these, public health authorities have encouraged people
with high cholesterol to lower their cholesterol by eating fewer foods
high in saturated fat and cholesterol, losing weight, and exercising
more often. Physicians often recommend supplementing these lifestyle
changes with cholesterol-lowering medications, such as statin drugs.66

Seen from a different perspective, however, 93
percent of men age fifty with high total cholesterol will not suffer a
heart attack in the next decade. There are only 7 chances in 100 that a
particular man will have a heart attack, and even if he lowers his
cholesterol, he still has 4 chances in 100 of suffering a heart attack.
In other words, all the required changes in lifestyle, plus the use of
medications, will lower his chances of a heart attack by only 3 chances
out of 100. An individual man with high cholesterol, therefore, may well
wonder if is worth the effort to change his lifestyle and take
medication. At the population level, however, with more than 9 million
men in the United States in their early fifties, a 3 percentage point
reduction in heart attacks would be seen as a major public health
achievement, because it would mean a quarter of a million fewer heart
attacks in this group over a decade. 67

The cholesterol example is relevant to understanding
the effects of growing up without both parents in the household. The
increase in the risk of cardiovascular disease associated with high
blood cholesterol is comparable in many respects to the increase in the
risk of behavioral, emotional, and academic problems associated with
growing up in a single-parent household. For example, the increase in
heart attacks associated with high blood cholesterol represents a 75
percent increase in risk ([7 4]/4) x 100 a figure comparable to the
increased risk associated with single parenthood and repeating a grade,
being suspended from school, receiving therapy, or attempting suicide.
Adopting a public health view and considering the number rather than the
percentage of adolescents who might be affected helps put these findings
in perspective.

In 2002 there were about 29 million children in the
United States between the ages of twelve and eighteen the age range
covered in table 1.68 Table
2 indicates that nearly 7 million children in this age group will have
repeated a grade. Increasing the share of adolescents living with two
biological parents to the 1980 level, as illustrated in the second
column of the table, suggests that some 300,000 fewer children would
repeat a grade. Correspondingly, increasing the share of adolescents
living with two biological parents to the 1970 level, as illustrated in
the third column, would mean that 643,264 fewer children would repeat a
grade. Finally, increasing the share of adolescents in two-parent
families to the 1960 level suggests that nearly three-quarters of a
million fewer children would repeat a grade. Similarly, increasing
marital stability to its 1980 level would result in nearly half a
million fewer children suspended from school, about 200,000 fewer
children engaging in delinquency or violence, a quarter of a million
fewer children receiving therapy, about a quarter of a million fewer
smokers, about 80,000 fewer children thinking about suicide, and about
28,000 fewer children attempting suicide. Seen from this perspective,
restoring family stability to levels of a few decades ago could
dramatically affect the lives of many children. Moreover, although the
estimated decline in the share of children encountering these problems
in table 1 is modest, increasing the number of children growing up with
both parents would simultaneously improve all these outcomes, as well as
many other outcomes not considered in these tables.

General conclusion

My goal in this paper has been to inform the marriage debate by
addressing three fundamental questions. First, how do children in
households with only one biological parent differ from children in
households with both biological parents, in terms of their cognitive,
social, and emotional well-being? Research clearly demonstrates that
children growing up with two continuously married parents are less
likely than other children to experience a wide range of cognitive,
emotional, and social problems, not only during childhood, but also in
adulthood. Although it is not possible to demonstrate that family
structure is the cause of these differences, studies that have used a
variety of sophisticated statistical methods, including controls for
genetic factors, suggest that this is the case. This distinction is even
stronger if we focus on children growing up with two happily married
biological parents.

Second, what accounts for the observed differences
between these two groups of children? Compared with other children,
those who grow up in stable, two-parent families have a higher standard
of living, receive more effective parenting, experience more cooperative
co-parenting, are emotionally closer to both parents (especially
fathers), and are subjected to fewer stressful events and circumstances.

And third, how might current policies to strengthen
marriage, decrease the rate of divorce, and lower nonmarital fertility
affect the overall well-being of American children?

The projections in tables 1 and 2 suggest that
increasing the share of children who grow up with continuously married
parents would improve the overall well-being of U.S. children only
modestly. The improvements are relatively small because problems such as
being suspended from school, engaging in delinquent behavior, and
attempting suicide have many causes, with family structure being but
one.

What are the policy implications of these findings?
First, interventions that increase the share of children growing up with
two continuously married biological parents will have modest effects on
the percentage of U.S. children experiencing various problems, but could
have substantial effects on the number of children experiencing them.
From a public health perspective, even a modest decline in percentages,
when multiplied by the large number of children in the population,
represents a substantial social benefit. That children living in
stepfamilies do not tend to have better outcomes, on average, than
children growing up in single-parent families suggests that
interventions to strengthen marital quality and stability would be most
profitable if focused on parents in first marriages. Similarly,
interventions to strengthen relationships and encourage marriage among
cohabiting couples with children would be most profitable if focused on
couples with a first child, rather than couples with children from prior
relationships.

U.S. policymakers also should acknowledge that
returning to substantially lower rates of divorce and nonmarital
childbearing, although a worthwhile goal, is not realistic, at least in
the short term. Although policy interventions may lower the rate of
divorce and nonmarital childbearing, many children will continue to grow
up with a single parent. This stubborn fact means that policies for
improving children’s well-being cannot focus exclusively on promoting
marriage and strengthening marital stability. These policies must be
supplemented by others that improve economic well-being, strengthen
parent-child bonds, and ease the stress experienced by children in
single-parent and stepparent households. Such programs would provide
parent education classes for divorcing parents, increase the minimum
wage and the earned income tax credit for poor working parents,
establish paternity and increase the payment of child support, and
improve the quantity and quality of time that nonresident parents,
especially fathers, spend with their children.

The importance of increasing the number of children
growing up with two happily and continuously married parents and of
improving the well-being of children now living in other family
structures is self-evident. Children are the innocent victims of their
parents’ inability to maintain harmonious and stable homes. The
importance of effective policies will become even clearer in the near
future, as the baby boom generation reaches retirement age. As this
happens, our society will become increasingly dependent on the emotional
functioning, economic productivity, and leadership of a declining number
of young adults. Although it is a cliche to say that children are the
future, it has never been as true as it is today.

View endnotes
here

This feature first appeared in The Future of
Children, Volume 15
No 2, a publication of The Woodrow Wilson
School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University and
The Brookings Institution.

Impact of Single Parenting on Children’s Development

Being a single parent is becoming more common, with the US Census Bureau estimating that there are around 12 million single-parent families. As relationships change and dissolve, many children are left with one parent.

If you’re a single parent yourself, you might be wondering about the impact of single parenting. That is if your single parent status will affect your child’s development.

No doubt coming from a single-parent home does have some impact on children, but there’s no reason children of single parents can’t grow up happy and well adjusted.

The effects of single parenting on a child’s behavior can be both positive and negative.

However, with the right approach, single parenthood can be a success and bear fruits and help in the overall development of their life’s emotional and social spheres.

Let’s take a look at the impact of single parenting on your child’s development and how you can best support them as they grow.

Poverty and its effects

So, how does single parenting affect a child?

One of the single-parent family problems is that they are more likely to struggle with poverty. Being the sole wage earner can cause a noticeable gap between your income and your two-income peers.

Poverty can be frightening and stressful for a single parent-child, causing them to feel frustrated and angry at the difference between them and their classmates or friends.

If you’re struggling with financial issues, there are some things you can do to help. The first is learning to budget effectively and adopting an attitude of looking for the most cost-effective way to do things.

The second is to focus on what you can give your child. Perhaps you can’t buy them the latest gadget, but you can foster a good relationship with them, and find fun things you can enjoy together for free.

The positive impact of single parenting does not necessarily depend on finances. At the same time, it’s not easy, but with the right attitude, you and your child can get through this.

Impact on academic achievement

Being from a single-parent family can have an impact on your child’s academic development.

The stress of the separation between you and your partner and the resulting change to life and routine can cause issues. You might also find yourself working longer hours, with less time to dedicate to helping with homework.

To turn the single parent effects on child development into a positive impact, try to be as hands-on as possible regarding your child’s academic life.

Keep in regular touch with their school and work with their teachers to solve issues and tackle any effects of being raised by a single parent before they occur.

Get involved with helping with homework, and if you don’t know about a subject, make it your business to learn – you and your child can learn and explore together.

Find free resources for them online or at your local library to make learning more manageable and fun. One of the advantages of a single-parent family is that you get to spend a lot of time with your child.

Self esteem and confidence

Your child’s self-esteem and confidence might be another possible negative impact of single parenting and take a knock when you become a single-parent family.

Children are quick to pick up on negativity and blame themselves for their situation or break up. Be vigilant about your child’s emotional well-being and self-esteem.

Make time every day to talk with them about their day and listen to what they say. Always validate their feelings and work on communicating with them in a way that builds confidence and encourages them to confide in you.

Always encourage your child, and be quick to acknowledge their achievements, no matter how small. A simple “well done” or even a card or note reminding them that they’re doing great can make a big difference.

Relationship with their other parent

Your child’s relationship with their other parent might have negative effects of single parenting on a child. The child might suffer as a result of a separation.

In some cases, the non-custodial parent can become somewhat distant. Your child may be left feeling abandoned or worried that they’ve done something wrong.

Do everything you can to foster a good relationship between your child and their other parent. You can help this along by sitting down with your ex and making decisions.

Discuss how to handle schoolwork, vacations, visitation time, birthday and Christmas, and even little things like allowance or TV time.

The more you work together as a team, the more there will be positive effects of single parenting. You’ll be able to create a stable parenting environment for your kids.

Seeing you both still working together to look after and support them will help them feel less adrift. The more security you can create, the better it will be for your child’s development.

Stress and anxiety

The stress and anxiety of separation can impact single parenting, where everything from your child’s school achievements to how well they relate to their peers will take a toll on you. That’s why taking steps to reduce their stress and anxiety is vital.

If your separation was particularly acrimonious, your child would be exposed to a lot of negativity. Witnessing fights is upsetting for children, and so is hearing their parents speak badly about each other.

Never criticize their other parent in front of them, and make sure any heated discussions take place out of earshot.

Since your child is growing up with a single parent, don’t lean on your child emotionally. This will cause them a lot of stress and can impact their emotional development.

Build a strong support network of family and friends. You can talk about finances, work, or other stresses and leave your child out of it.

If your child is old enough to understand, explain to them the stress you’re suffering is not their fault. Reassure them that you love them and will always be there for them.

In this TEDx video, Austeja Landsbergiene, Ph.D., CEO, and founder of a private chain of pre-schools in Latvia and Lithuania, talk about effective parenting based on memories, not expectations.

Becoming the child of a single parent is a difficult transition. The impact of single parenting will make a mark on several areas of your child’s life.

However, with love and commitment, you can get them through this challenging time and help them to bloom.

How Does Single Parenting Affect Education?

All parents want their children to succeed in school, which leads to success in life. We all know how important it is to support our kids’ academic efforts and to be there for them when they need us. If you’re a single parent, you know how hard this can be no matter how strongly you believe in education. Single-parent families tend to have lower incomes and less access to resources like tutoring or special academic programs. Their children are more likely to drop out of school. The good news is that single-parent families can find support to help their children do well in school and later in life.  

Single-Parent Families Are More Common

More and more children in the United States are living with a single parent, and that can make it hard for them to succeed in school. Today, almost one-third of U.S. children live in households with an unmarried parent, according to the Pew Research Center. Pew finds that the rate of single-parent families has more than doubled in the last 50 years, from 13% in 1968 to 32% in 2017. The Kids Count Data Center says the rate has been holding mostly steady since 2010, stubbornly hovering at about 35% – totaling just under 24 million children each year. 

The numbers include children living with two unmarried people. They do not include those living with a parent and stepparent or children living in institutions such as group homes.

The Stresses of Single Parenting

If you thought being married with children was hard, try being single with children! Although both married and single parents face many of the same child-rearing problems, singles must solve theirs without automatic backup and support. Even when the non-custodial parent pays child support and pays it on time, it can be a struggle to suddenly have to live on one income when you are used to having two. 

Today’s single-parent family faces a great deal of stress, according to the American Psychological Association, which notes several sources of pressure:

  • Visitation and custody problems
  • Continuing conflict between the parents
  • Less opportunity for parents and children to spend time together
  • Effects of the breakup on children’s school performance and peer relations
  • Disruptions of extended family relationships
  • Parents dating new people 

Children in single-parent families are more likely than two-parent children to have accidents, to need medical care for physical illnesses and to be hospitalized, says Science Direct, a clearinghouse for scientific research. It also finds that “single parents have higher levels of mental health problems, which could result partly from the stress of trying to balance the needs of employment, home responsibilities, child rearing, and interactions with the child’s school with limited time, personal, and social support.”

It’s no wonder single-parent children often struggle in school!

Effects of Single-Parent Families on Children’s Education

Children in single-parent families are more likely to drop out of school and less likely to finish college than two-parent children, according to one study. Many factors contribute to their struggles:

Lack of Time

A single mom or dad may have to work longer hours to make ends meet, so they have less time and energy to help their children with schoolwork. If the child also works to help pay expenses, it can give them less time to spend on their school work.

Lack of money 

Extracurricular activities and community involvement are an important part of school today, especially when it comes to getting into college. But their cost can keep a single-parent child from participating.

Emotional Stress

When your family is going through a divorce, or if financial struggles mean you have to move a lot or even become homeless, school becomes a low priority.

Mental Health

Children in single-parent families often have trouble making friends and developing healthy relationships with adults. They often struggle with depression, anxiety and low self-esteem, which can lead to substance abuse.

Single-Parent Education 

Even with all these challenges, you can improve your child’s academic chances if you show interest in education – not just theirs, but yours too. Studies show that the more education a parent has completed, the more likely their children are to succeed. If you’re thinking of going back to school for a better job for your family, you can get help from single-parent student grants and other sources of financial aid:

The Federal Pell Grant Program

Some people call the Federal Pell Grant program “the single mother grant,” because so many single parents have used it to go back to school and increase their income potential. Most recipients are undergraduate students and get the aid because of financial need. To apply for a Federal Pell Grant, fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at the FAFSA website.

Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants

You can win an FSEOG grant if you show sufficient financial need in your FAFSA application. 

State Grants for Single Parents

Many states also offer their own education grants to encourage students to seek higher education. You don’t have to be a single parent to get one, but some state programs take family financial status into account and give most of the aid to disadvantaged and low-income families. To determine whether your state offers a similar grant program for students, visit your state’s financial aid website.

Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG)

The ACG is a merit-based educational grant for first- and second-year college students who graduated from high school during 2006 or after 2005. Some students already receiving a Pell Grant can win the award based on academic merit. To apply, complete a  FAFSA application.

The National SMART Grant

SMART stands for Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent. The grant is a merit-based award to third- and fourth-year Pell Grant students in physical, life or computer sciences; mathematics, technology or engineering programs; and some other programs of study. You have to have a grade-point average of at least 3.0 to be eligible. 

Single-Parent Education Challenges

Single-parent families face many challenges that married families don’t experience. Perhaps few are as important to conquer as education, which determines our success for generations to come. Ask for help getting your child what they need to succeed. Show your child that learning is important to you by taking opportunities to improve your own education.

For more information or help with parenting your child, register for our free courses, which are being delivered virtually.

90,000 Millions of Single Mothers: Why Legal Marriage Is Going Out of Fashion | Culture and Lifestyle in Germany and Europe | DW

More than two million parents in Germany are involved in parenting alone. According to the Federal Statistical Office (Statistische Bundesamt), this is almost 20 percent of all mothers in the country. Two-thirds of single parents, including many fathers, cope on their own, because either they themselves are well provided for, or they receive good alimony. But the rest are forced to rely on financial assistance from the state.It amounts to about 1,000 euros per month for an adult and a child with reimbursement of rent, health insurance, etc.

“Only a part of single parents voluntarily and completely consciously decided to take this step. Most of them did not imagine their motherhood or fatherhood that way,” emphasizes Miriam Hoheisel, head of the German Union of Single Mothers and Fathers. Eighty percent of single parents have gone through a divorce from a husband / wife or separation from a partner.

Not a trend, but a fact?

In such a development of events, someone sees the influence of the feminist movement and the general growth of welfare in Germany.New generations sometimes perceive the family as a heavy burden in the form of children and a husband. More popular has become the desire for freedom, allowing you to do anything and have anything you want, including children. This path, however, is not open to everyone, since the issue of financing the acquired freedom often remains open.

In any case, there is a natural transformation of society, and therefore also social foundations and moral norms. The Germans still highly value the family as a form of social community, but they attach different meanings to the concept of “family”.Today “family” and “marriage” are acquiring a new meaning, there is a smooth blurring of boundaries between various forms of partnership or the absence of such in an incomplete family.

To sacrifice oneself for the sake of the family is no longer necessary, and friendship with the father of one’s children, ex-husband or partner is now quite common.

A quarter of a century ago, when the birth rate in Germany fell, it was decided to think about how to increase it again. For reference: according to the Hamburg Institute of World Economy, Germany has been one of the last in the world in terms of fertility for about 20 years, despite a slight plus.What has been done? The state childcare allowance, the so-called “children’s money” (Kindergeld), has grown several times over the years and today is about 190 euros per month for the first child (for the third – more than 220 euros per month). And it is usually paid until the “child” reaches 25 years of age.

In Germany, more kindergartens are being built, a place in kindergarten was legally guaranteed for every child from 3 years old, new after-school groups are being opened in schools… All this, of course, is welcome, but pessimists pay attention to the fact that as soon as the financial support of the state became more tangible, the number of single parents began to grow noticeably.

The capital sets the tone

Berlin is the record holder for the number of single-parent families: here there are almost 32 percent of them. Perhaps, in particular, because life in the capital is relatively cheap, there is a large selection of inexpensive housing, a lot of kindergartens, after-school groups, and so on.

But it’s not just about money. Psychologists are convinced that children still need both parents, that a full-fledged family in its traditional form has a beneficial effect on the development and formation of a child. However, the traditional concept of family – father, mother and child – no longer corresponds to the modern reality of our society, says DilekKolat Senator for Employment, Integration and Women’s Rights in Berlin. 80 percent (according to other estimates, even 90 percent) of single parents in Germany are women, and the senator emphasizes that it is more difficult for them to get a job, they have worse money and free time.This does not distinguish German single mothers from single mothers in other countries.

90,000 experience in practical research on the reproduction of masculinity

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  • The role of fathers in the socialization of sons: an experience of practical research on the reproduction of masculinity
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  • Rykun A.Yu.
  • socialization of boys
  • normative masculinity
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    Single mothers at risk of falling into poverty – News – IQ Research and Education Portal – National Research University Higher School of Economics

    One third of single-parent families may find themselves below the poverty line.After all, even a single working mother is not always able to provide for herself and her child. Higher education, school-age children and living with parents reduce the risk of poverty for a single mother. A large number of children and the absence of other family members increase this risk, found out a graduate student of the Department of Applied Economics, FES HSE Daria Gutina during the study “Economic activity of single mothers in Russia and the risk of poverty for their families.”

    The increase in the number of divorces, separation of partners and the increase in the number of illegitimate births have led to the fact that single-parent families and single mothers have become a large-scale phenomenon.In OECD countries, on average, 15% of families are single-parent, of which 88% are families where the head is a single mother. Similar statistics in Russia, where single-parent families – 14%, and single mothers make up 86% of the total.

    During the study Daria Gutina tried to answer three groups of questions:

    • What factors influence the labor force participation of single mothers, and whether single motherhood is an obstacle to a woman’s economic activity;
    • Does the structure of the household affect women’s labor force participation and the well-being of her family;
    • What determines the level of well-being of an incomplete family and what factors reduce the risk of single mothers falling below the poverty line.

    Young and Inactive

    Foreign studies on this topic offer a number of assumptions and hypotheses. For example, single mothers are more economically active, but their financial well-being is lower. A single mother is more likely to be employed if she lives with an extended family (for example, with her parents) or if preschool and other educational facilities are available to her. The absence of unemployed members in the household, large families and preschool children reduce the likelihood of a single mother to be employed.The risk of poverty increases if a single mother is young and there is no one else in the family except her and the children.

    As an empirical base for the study, Gutina used data on more than two thousand women aged 18 to 54 with minor children. Of these, 656 women were single mothers, of whom 44% lived alone with children in the household.

    The vast majority of single mothers (87%) turned out to be economically active.

    Young mothers were often unemployed.Perhaps because the young mother was most likely a student and receiving an education. The presence of education has a positive effect on the employment of the mother, but the age of the child, as well as the number of children, turned out to be statistically insignificant. A mother’s chances of finding a job are increased by the availability of affordable school and preschool facilities.

    Living a single mother with her parents reduces her chances of being employed, which refutes one of the hypotheses put forward, the author of the study noted. Moreover, if there are two parents, then the chances of employment are reduced more than if there is only one parent.“This can be explained by the fact that parents are either addicted, and a single mother should pay attention not only to children, but also to them, and therefore she has no opportunity to be busy,” says Gutina. “Either the woman receives help and support from her parents, and she has no need for employment.”

    The same tendency, by the way, can be seen if a woman does not live with her parents, but with a partner. True, when all other family members (say, parents) with whom a single mother lives work, it encourages a woman to find a job as well.

    Schoolchildren help not to get poor

    Single mothers are socially vulnerable groups. Every third single-parent family is financially vulnerable. Even a single working mother cannot always provide the required level of well-being – 27% of such families are below the poverty line. The greatest chances of falling into poverty are among those who live with several children (poverty is calculated from the ratio of income per family member to the minimum subsistence level).

    Calculations have shown that the age of the mother has a statistically insignificant effect on the risk of poverty.On the other hand, higher education significantly reduces the chances of living in need both for a mother with a child and for an incomplete family as a whole.

    The risk of poverty is reduced if there is only one child. As for the child’s age, all age groups, except for the school age group, were statistically insignificant. The latter, according to calculations, reduces the risk of poverty for a single mother.

    The fact that a mother is employed predictably reduces her chances of poverty. At the same time, the type of employment (full or incomplete) does not affect the statistics.The author suggests that this is due to the low prevalence of underemployment in Russia.

    Living a single mother with her parents also increases the chances of a comfortable life, from which we can conclude that the main help from grandparents is financial.

    See also:

    Employers do not favor mothers and pregnant women
    Young people began to separate from their parents later
    Children from single-parent families grow up earlier

    Author of the text:

    Grinkevich Vladislav Vladimirovich,

    December 16, 2015


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    90,000 Research: the number of single fathers has increased in Russia – Society

    MOSCOW, June 1. / TASS /. The number of families of single fathers with children in Russia increased in the interval between the last two censuses, held in 2002 and 2010. This was reported to TASS in the media office of the All-Russian Population Census.

    Thus, according to the 2002 All-Russian Population Census, in Russia there were 1.18% of households in which only the father is involved in raising children.The 2010 census already showed 1.27%.

    “The share of single fathers with one child increased from 1.47 to 1.57%, with two – from 0.67 to 0.72%. And only the share with three or more decreased: 0.57% in 2002 and 0.52% in 2010. Of course, it is difficult and undesirable for a child to live in an incomplete family, but we can say that the responsibility of fathers is growing, and society has become more likely to trust children to fathers, ”the media office said.

    In the case of single mothers, experts revealed the opposite trend: according to the 2010 census, single mothers accounted for 11.72% of all households with children, while in 2002 – 12.78%.

    As shown by a comparison of the data of the last two population censuses, the number of families with children under 18 years of age has noticeably decreased in Russia – from 21.2 to 17.9 million. At the same time, most families in Russia are raising only one child. Since 2002, the share of such families has slightly increased: from 65.24% in 2002 to 65.5% in 2010. The number of families with three or more children also increased – from 6.59 to 6.99%.

    “Oddly enough, the increase in well-being and living standards also often leads to small families with one or two children.And for the most part, these are families with young 30-year-old parents who have already received an education, have determined professionally, and have the opportunity to give birth to subsequent children. Measures of demographic policy are designed to help them in this “, – commented the head of the scientific laboratory” Quantitative Methods of Researching Regional Development “of the Plekhanov Russian University of Economics, Elena Yegorova.

    What to expect from the 2021 All-Russian Population Census

    According to the 2002 All-Russian Population Census, there were 41 million households in Russia, consisting of two or more people.The 2010 census has already shown 40.5 million – 428 thousand less. Experts expect a further decrease in this indicator from the 2021 census.

    “Most likely, the number of households in absolute terms will be below the level of 2010 for the most significant reason – the small number of the generation of the 1990s. This generation has its own views on life, and often in the first places are studies, careers, buying an apartment and a car , travel around the world. The creation of a family and the birth of children is postponed, “- said Yegorova.

    The survey of the latest censuses, prepared on the eve of World Parents Day and Children’s Day, which are celebrated on June 1, is based on the most recent data from Rosstat on the dynamics of changes in Russian households. “An analytical expert review, prepared for World Parents Day and Children’s Day, allows us to draw relevant conclusions in what conditions children grow up and how the attitude of society and potential parents to creating families is changing,” Yegorova told TASS.

    90,000 The Instinct of Decay: What Causes Mothers to Be Abusive | Articles

    Locked in apartments, thrown out of windows, forgotten in the forest at night – these children did not deserve such cruelty from those who are obliged to take care of them and protect them from evil. Cases when a mother raises her hand to a child or leaves him in danger occur with frightening regularity. The most resonant of them make you seriously think that these women have lost their maternal instinct. Izvestia collected expert opinions on what the roots of the problems of parental indifference and aggression are and who is to blame for the fact that cruelty against children has become a system.

    Cruel and dissatisfied

    Among the reasons connecting together two seemingly incompatible concepts – motherhood and cruelty – sociologists highlight unfavorable social and material conditions, a drop in income due to the birth of a child and a woman’s psychological reaction to the unsettled life.

    “This is dissatisfaction with oneself, one’s life, one’s feminine and status position. On this soil, the female “bitterness from dissatisfaction” is concentrated.Alas, in this case it is the child who is “to blame for everything” for an irritated mother. A woman is always looking for someone to blame for her failures, usually among people in her inner circle. And this, of course, is either a husband or a child who “ruined her life.” In the case when there is no husband, and life is unsettled, it is the child who becomes the main culprit of this disorder and, accordingly, the object of cruelty. He becomes superfluous for such mothers, “- explained to Izvestia Professor of Sociology, Scientific Director of the Department of Sociology, History and Philosophy of the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation, member of the Scientific and Expert Council under the Chairman of the Federation Council Galina Sillaste.

    Photo: Depositphotos

    Another reason that feeds maternal cruelty and indifference can be considered a decrease in social control by society and the state over the state of dysfunctional families. Neighbors, relatives and teachers try not to interfere with the aggressive environment within the family. Although, of course, there are exceptions.

    “If the society underestimates the personal responsibility of a woman-mother for the child’s condition, his safety and security, if public control and support does not work, then the state has only one mechanism for protecting children from family cruelty and mother’s cruelty – tightening the rules of law and action the law regarding control by the persons concerned.And this is a breeding ground for strengthening juvenile justice, which, in my opinion, is far from the best option, ”adds the professor of sociology.

    An important step in this direction could be the emergence of a law on the prevention of domestic violence. Because the most vulnerable part of the family – small children – often becomes the target of this aggression. As support measures for single mothers, which could act as a prevention of aggression in the family, Sillaste highlights the introduction of psychological assistance services for single mothers, which will partly redirect aggression and ruthlessness towards a weak and completely dependent on her little person .But, in addition to this, the system of material support for single mothers should also be improved.

    Household care

    Control over dysfunctional families and the safety of finding children in them is the direct task of the guardianship authorities. However, employees often fail to even talk to parents, to whom the service has questions. This happens due to family relocation and, as a result, loss of connection with it. Ombudsman for the rights of the child Anna Kuznetsova believes that the appearance of numerous “invisible children” is connected precisely with the lack of trust of parents in a difficult situation in the guardianship authorities.

    “If it had been one hundred percent, there would have been more calls, and all these cases could have been prevented. Who would call? It could be the mother herself, who says that she is in trouble and is not coping. But at the same time, she knows that it will not come oranges in the refrigerator to count and not calculate the distance from the table to the chair, but to offer the help of a psychologist, a lawyer and sort out the problem. With such a mode of operation, the number of such incidents can be seriously reduced, “the children’s ombudsman told Izvestia.

    In the case of a five-year-old girl confiscated from a cluttered apartment on Leningradskoye Highway, a guardianship visit would be a necessary preventive measure. If employees had discovered problems visible to the naked eye in time, such dire consequences for the child could have been avoided.

    Ombudsman for the Rights of the Child Anna Kuznetsova

    Photo: Izvestia / Mikhail Tereshchenko

    “She smelled and licked fruit.For the first time in my life I saw the felt-tip pen and did not know why they gave her this colored stick, then I realized that she was drawing. The pencil was easier for her. Only today (March 13, 2019 – Ed.) began to have a more positive attitude towards the bed. That is, she did not sleep on the bed, she wanted to sleep on the chair. They washed it with a fight: there was a screech, a scream. I had a feeling, but, of course, I am not making diagnoses, but talking about my impression: she looks at us like at a zoo. She probably hasn’t seen so many people, she really wants to be liked, to do as we ask.But she does not always understand, – Anna Kuznetsova shared with Izvestia, – She does not tolerate when she is left alone. Unfortunately, there is no speech yet, there are individual syllables that she shouts out when she doesn’t like something. But when they brought her slippers, she said: “Slippers.” She eats well herself, you don’t need to teach her. ”

    The duties of the guardianship authorities do not include door-to-door rounds for all families with children, notes the head of the department for organizing the activities of the commissions for minors and protecting their rights in the city of Moscow, Yuri Kotov. An inspector’s visit may involve complaints from neighbors, relatives, teachers, or preschool workers.

    “The guardianship does not have an obligation to walk from door to door. Moreover, taking into account the situation with the guardianship authorities in general, people perceive with hostility the visit of an inspection officer or attention to a particular family . Six years ago, they developed a regulation for early detection of family trouble, prescribed possible cases of how to anticipate such situations. If the parent does not pay the rent, then the guardianship authorities should pay attention to the situation.Not to take the children away, but to find out the reason: whether they are spending money on drink or are they in a dire situation. To ignore such a situation is the height of incompetence, “Kotov clarified in an interview with Izvestia.

    Time of experiments on children

    Practicing lawyers and law enforcement officials are inclined to believe that the problem has always existed, but today it is given close attention due to the development of media – access to information has increased manifold. Those horrors that only the district police officer, lawyer, investigator and the circle of those interested in the case knew about, are now being talked about on social networks and on federal channels.And nevertheless, modernity significantly influences the attitude towards native children.

    “According to my observations, today’s problem parents, in particular careless mothers, are, in turn, the children of those who in the 1990s tried to feed their families and disappeared at work. On the one hand, it would be a sin to blame them for this, but on the other, we got a whole generation of unprepared moms and dads. Infantile parents without a clear understanding of family and motherhood now and then end up in scandalous news, ”lawyer Yevgeny Korchago told Izvestia. In the past, he served as a district commissioner in one of the regional departments of the capital, where he had to remove children from disadvantaged families.

    Photo: RIA Novosti / Vitaly Ankov

    “Many parents sincerely believe that having given birth to a child, they have full control over it. Hence, in my opinion, the strange decisions with the food of the minor, his appearance, name. In some cases, this also dictated such significant things as the choice of the future for the child, the refusal of compulsory vaccinations.According to the principle “as I want, I twist”. Parents who are special in terms of their worldview expose their children to even more dangerous experiments – they exclude children from society on the basis of religious beliefs. Others consider it possible to turn the apartment where the child lives into a walk-through for labor migrants. Situations are widespread today when some relatives initiate the deprivation of parental rights of their other relatives in order to remove a child from a socially dangerous environment, ”says Korchago.

    Unconscious evil

    The roots of the problem, based on Western psychoanalytic experience, are in the early childhood of those very negligent mothers.

    “The psyche up to three years is formed only by the mother. This is evidenced by psychoanalytic theory. Only then does the father appear, who is responsible for the formation of conscience and mentally separates the mother and the child, “- explains the importance of the mother’s presence in a person’s life in an interview with Izvestia, psychotherapist, deviantologist and president of the Chance charitable foundation Gelena Ivanova. Hundreds of difficult teenagers have passed through the specialist, many of whom have committed serious crimes. Gelena Ivanova believes that the foundations of aggressive behavior are laid in early childhood.

    “Deviant motherhood is, first of all, when the parental stage is disturbed, these women cannot be good mothers. As a rule, these are scenarios – this behavior is transmitted from mother to daughter and so on, ”says the psychotherapist. But there is a way out of this circle, the expert believes.

    “You can work with children. We can fix their script and they will become good parents, ”says Ivanova. Recovery can be brought about by psychoanalytic therapy (psychodynamic approach) – two years, once a week, the patient must talk with a specialist. A new identification and even empathy (a sense of compassion – Izvestia) is formed with the help of such therapy. Of course, qualified people should be engaged in this, ”the deviantologist believes. She emphasized that such specialists are practically absent in Russia today .Moreover, they are not in the system of guardianship authorities. Without solving this personnel problem, it is essentially pointless to fight the consequences of the aggression of minors and deviant motherhood.

    Photo: TACC / Valery Sharifulin

    “We have one method – a mental hospital. For example, a child ran away from home – he was immediately taken to a mental hospital. I have had patients who were admitted to the hospital seven times. This is a disaster, in my opinion, ”says Ivanova.

    “If we take the case with the child in Moscow, I think that the mother had postpartum depression.She once found herself alone with a baby, without work – the peak of depression. How did she survive? It is possible that this depression has taken on a psychotic form. She, of course, satisfied the need for food, brought water from somewhere. But she needed help … Perhaps she would have applied for it herself, but how does our system work – to confiscate the child and that’s it. Women are afraid of this, ”says the psychotherapist.

    Ivanova drew attention to the fact that the neighbors systematically saw her washing clothes in the Moscow River for a long time.“How could you turn off the water at her house? But nobody sounded the alarm. This is indifference, ”says the deviantologist.

    Asocial habits, adherence to any subcultures, the influence of social networks on a person – these are just additional triggers that affect behavior that deviates from the norms. The foundation of the threat is laid in childhood itself.

    “There is a stereotype that an alcoholic is a bad mother. But this is not true. There are drinking mothers who are very fond of their children.And there are well-to-do educated women, but in terms of affection for children, they are dead. Against their background, drinking mothers who manage to combine their addiction with caring for children look advantageous, ”Gelena Ivanova cited an example.

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    Impact of parenting

    on pension

    Only one parent is eligible for each benefit. In this case, the parents can distribute among themselves different rights.

    For example, as part of parenting benefits, one parent can retire early, and the other can receive an allowance.

    Which of the parents will exercise which rights must be agreed in writing and applications for the payment of the supplement to the pension for raising children and the refusal of the supplement to be sent to [email protected] If no agreement is achievable, the rights are divided equally between the parents.

    Both the years of service and the pension supplement provide a fixed amount, the amount of which depends, among other things, on the annual coefficient, which is adjusted annually by April 1.

    For example, from April 1, 2021, the annual pension coefficient is 7.206 euros.Read more about the indexation of pensions.

    The supplement is calculated for all types of pension, except for the national pension, seniority pension and special pension. If the size of the old-age pension is not determined according to the seniority of the pensioner, the pension supplement is also not charged.

    Example 1: Peeter and Inga are married. They have three children. The first child was born in 1979, the second in 1984 and the third in 1992. When Peeter retired, the family council decided that the parenting allowance was due to him.

    The calculation of his pension included 2 years of experience for the first and second child and a monthly pension supplement in the amount of 1.5 annual coefficient. For raising his third child, Peeter received a pension supplement in the amount of 3.5 annual coefficients, since he was born after 1991.

    Example 2: Caspar and Liya have a child born in 2014. Liya joined the II pension pillar, Kaspar did not. The Family Council has decided that Liya will receive the II pillar funded pension contributions from birth until the child’s third birthday.This means that Kaspar is deprived of the opportunity in the future to receive a supplement to his pension for this period.

    Basic Family Types

    Main> List of Sections> Section 1.2> Basic Family Types
    Main family types
    1. Families by composition

    Single-parent family. Incomplete families arise after divorce and the breakup of a complete family, on the initiative of single women (“mother’s family”), as a result of the death of one of the spouses, when a child is adopted by a single person.
    Maternal family (single mother’s family). This is a kind of single-parent family. She is originally celibate.
    Mixed or remarried family. There are three types of such families:
    – a woman with children marries a man without children;
    – a man with children marries a woman without children;
    – both man and woman, having married, have children from previous partners.
    2. Families by ownership of power in decision-making
    • partriarchal families, where the father is the head of the family state;
    • matriarchal, where the mother enjoys the highest authority and influence;
    • egalitarian families, in which there are no clearly defined family heads, and where the situational distribution of power between father and mother prevails.

    3. Families by structure

    • “nuclear family” consists of a husband, wife and their children;
    • “replenished family” – an enlarged union – a married couple and their children, plus parents of other generations, for example, grandmothers, grandfathers, uncles, aunts who all live together or in close proximity to each other and constitute the structure of the family;
    • The “ mixed family ” is a “rebuilt” family formed as a result of the marriage of divorced people.A blended family includes step parents and step children, since children from a previous marriage join the new family unit;
    • single parent family ” is a household run by one parent (mother or father) due to divorce, departure or death of a spouse, or because the marriage was never contracted (Levy D., 1993).

    Recently, new types of family have appeared

    • unofficial heterosexual family: men and women who live together have obligations to each other but the marriage is not officially registered.May have their own or adopted children;
    • homosexual family: two adults of the same sex who live together and have obligations to each other. Such a family may or may not have children.

    4. Families by number of children

    • childless family. A family in which there are no children for ten years of married life is considered childless;
    • small family. This is a common category of families.Such families usually consist of a husband, wife and two or, more often, one child;
    • large family. This is a family with three or more children.
    Stages of family development
    Young family. This is a family at the initial stage of development as a small social group, that is, at the stage of marital choice. It is characterized by the primary mutual adaptation of the spouses: material and household, moral and psychological and intimate and personal.There is a change in the entire lifestyle of the spouses: adaptation to the new status of husband and wife for them and the functions associated with them; reconciliation of patterns of extrafamilial behavior that existed before marriage; the inclusion of consistent patterns of extrafamilial behavior in the circle of mutual family ties.

    There are three main types of young families.

    The first type is traditional. Families of this type are characterized by the spouses’ orientation exclusively towards family values ​​and, as a rule, towards a two-child family.The leader in the family, at least formally, is the husband. However, leadership is largely determined by leadership in the household (finance, housing arrangement) sphere of its activities. The circle of friends of the spouses, as a rule, is common and rather limited. Temporary care for family affairs is possible. Leisure activities are shared, closed.
    The second type – husband and wife are focused primarily on personal development. The spouses have a focus on a small family.There is a social and role balance. The family can be both open and closed to the microenvironment. The type of leadership is democratic: joint or separate according to the spheres of family life.
    The third type – young spouses are focused mainly on entertainment. At the same time, the husband and wife have both common friends and each of their own from among the former environment. Reproductive attitudes towards a childless or small family. Leadership in such a family can be both authoritarian and democratic.

    For the stability of a young family, two crisis periods are dangerous or potentially exist: primary marital adaptation and adaptation of spouses to the appearance of their first child.

    Family of middle matrimonial age. She is a kind of collective, relations in which can be defined as the upbringing of educators. If parents want to develop a quality in their child, they must develop it in themselves.In the “middle” period, a stereotype of marital relations has already been developed, family rules have long been developed. This simplifies, but also impoverishes, family life.

    Elderly family. This is most often a mature married couple living with their children or on their own. At this time, the spouses usually retire. The way of life, social status, and the status of spouses are changing.

    Family functions

    Friedman in 1992defined 5 functions:

    • affective the primary foundation for continuing family life in accordance with the emotional needs of each family member;
    • reproductive – ensuring the continuity of development within the framework of both one family and the whole society ;
    • social – ensuring the preparation of children for life in society;
    • health care – providing family members with food, housing, clothing and heat;
    • economic – providing the family with economic resources for survival.

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