The number of single parent families in today's society is on the rise with sometimes detrimental effects on the children involved.
A single parent family is defined by a child/children under the guardianship of a single carer.
Depending on financial circumstance, the single parent is often compelled to supplement the household income with paid work which results in children assisting with household and care for younger siblings.
A child in this situation is forced to migrate into adulthood at an early age denying himself opportunities of simply acting like a kid.
Children in single-parent families also find themselves involved in family decision making, more so than children in two parent families. For some, this will result in conflict with figures of authority who enjoy unquestioned obedience. Children from single parent families may be ignorant of their parent's need for camaraderie. The child is lacking in maturity and unable to differentiate in a relationship between a mother and child vis-a-vis friend to friend who share thoughts and feelings on a more intellectual level.
This can at times result in resentment and be portrayed as negative behaviour and cross words. Bitter arguments and raw emotion can leave the parent lonely and resenting their children.
The educational outcome for children from single parent families is below that of conventional parent families.
These outcomes include poor school grades and higher school drop-out rates. Statistics suggest that these outcomes increase the probability of the children living in lower socio-economic status when they grow up. However, studies have shown that if there is more financial and practical support for families with greater needs the prospects of improved educational and long-term goal setting outcomes will be realised.
It is not all bad for children from single parent families. Often the bond between parent and child is stronger than that of conventional parent families. It is suggested that this bond is a result from the established communication skills the family has developed and the sharing of homely chores and making group decisions. This bond is also strengthened by the power balance between parent and child, as the child contribution is necessary for the running of the house and not just a way of earning an allowance.
Children know that they are the main priority in a parent's life.
A child from a single parent family may learn sooner than their counterparts that they are not the centre of the universe. Perhaps children from single parent families experience the "real" world at an earlier age, however the lessons learnt (responsibility and caring) are invaluable and will inevitably be learned by all in time.
No matter if a child is from a single or dual parent family, there will be benefits and disadvantages depending on circumstance. All we can really do as a society is to support these children, educate and support them without prejudice and recognise the effects different family compositions have on the individual members.
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