SINGLE PARENTING: PROBLEMS AND EFFECTS

In world, the number of children in single-parent families has risen significantly over the past four decades, causing substantial concern among policymakers and the public. Parenthood is challenging enough even under the best of conditions. So, being a single parent in our society is tasking to say the least. This is because, with one parent, the challenges are multifaceted. Single parenting in our society has been the focus of much interest and research in recent years. According to a communicator, “The effect of single parenting are far reaching because it does not only affect the parents, it also affects the children. In fact, the effects are more devastating on the part of the children because single parenthood leaves them with deep scars. Being a single parent is a very tough and challenging task.

Many of the problems that single parents have are similar to those of two parents family but these problems seems more difficult to bear or manage when the home is being tutored by only one person. For example, all children feel hostile towards their parents as they grow-up and try to be independent. But in a situation, where the anger and rebellion are all directed towards one person, it may seem worse, if there is only one to bear it, not for the two to share.

There are some problems that are exceptional which are only faced by the single parent which make it somewhat difficult to raise children. These problems include bitterness towards the absent spouse, loneliness, poverty and insecurity about raising children alone without a help. For these and some other reasons, single parents sometimes cling to their children or over indulge them. Members may unrealistically expect that the family can function like a two-parent family and may feel that something is wrong when it cannot.

Children living with continuously married parents are not faced with much stressful experiences as those living with single parents. Although various schools define stress in different ways, but stress is generally seen as when external demands exceed peoples 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.

Empirical evidence has shown that children from intact-homes will be taken care of and better socialized. This is due to the fact that the process of socialization depends on both parents playing complementary roles in raising such children; which will definitely impact positively on the children during school years. On the other hand, children from single parent homes are more likely to suffer deprivations and denials of some rights and opportunities that will have negative psycho-social impact on them in school years.

Adolescence is a transitory period (12 years to 18 years) between childhood and adulthood and it involves biological, cognitive and socio-emotional changes. During this period an individual is seen neither as a child not as an adult. The studies claimed that adolescents are characterized by emotional instabilities and hyper-activities, which cause them to experience storms and stress. One of the researcher opines that identity formation creates tension in adolescents to the extent that some of them become confused about their personality. Adolescence period is a transitional period in the development of critical thinking and a time of increased decision making. The theory of cognitive development emphasize that adolescents think more abstractly, idealistically and also thinks more logically.

The period of adolescence is very important to the development of any individual. Therefore, any laxity on the part of the parents in assisting and guiding the adolescent may result in academic backwardness and development of unwholesome behaviours.

The foundation of what a person becomes in the societies depends is laid in the home and at the initial stage of life. According to Sigmund Freud who is the pioneering architect of psychoanalytic theory, early experiences with parents and family relationships extensively shape development. Parents therefore have their children and adolescents acquire the appropriate academics, social, psychological and moral development.

Research has consistently shown that family structure can facilitate or limit the ways in which parent are able to positively influence the psycho-social and educational outcomes of their children. A child from home where the father and mother are present will be well taken care of and socialized in the best way possible. This is due to the fact that the process of socialization depends on both parents playing complementary roles in bringing up the child. Such child is likely to achieve self socialization later in life. The problem of deprivation of a second parent is bad enough but when the remaining parent cannot cope with the resultant problems, a tragic situation arises. In such a situation, the child becomes a misfit in the society. The inability of the single parent to cope is as a result of double responsibilities he/she (the parent) faces which requires extra time, attention, and money of the parent. Hence less attention is paid to the psychological well-being and education of the child.

Although growing up in a single parent family is frequently viewed as a risk factor for children, single-parent families have reported positive psychological adjustment educational outcome.

Parents are primarily responsible for the educational and career development of their children. Literatures on academic performance among children suggest that children’s academic performance improve when both parents are actively in their education. Married parents are more likely to involve in their children’s education than single parents. As parents engage in the academic activities of their children, it is most likely to have a positive influence on their academic performance. However, this does not necessarily suggest that once parents engage in a child’s academic activities, the child would be academically successful as the child’s own abilities and the school environment also play critical roles in that respect. In a related way, the researcher indicates that parents noted that the poor performance of their children emanates from their lack of proper supervision of their ward’s homework. One of the researchers pointed out that both parents have roles to play in the child’s education. The father is to provide the necessary tools for the educational advancement while the mother is to supplement the father’s effort in this regard. When the father is absent and the mother is not privileged enough to cater for all the basic needs as well as supervise the academic performance of the child, he/she (the child) will be backward or withdrawn. The same thing occurs when the mother is absent and the father is not privileged enough.

Given the positive influence of parental involvement on children’s educational outcome, children under single parent family structure might not receive the necessary attention they required because the single parent might be overwhelmed by many responsibilities. The researcher study states that children in single-parent families are three times more likely to drop out of high school than children from two-parent families. Because single parents are the primary and frequently the sole source of financial support for the family, they have less time to help children with homework, are less likely to use consistent discipline, and have less parental control, and all of these conditions may lead to lower academic achievement.

In contrast, there are few studies that believe that the single parent household may not have as widespread and adverse an effect on academics as is publicized. Findings suggest that conventional wisdom may exaggerate the detrimental effect of father’s absence. This study seemed to imply that once the socio-economic factors are controlled there is a much lessened effect on the academic performance and all round well-being of the child.

Interest in parenting and behavioural problem in children is widely acknowledged. Anti- social behaviour is a major problem in childhood and beyond. Overall, prior research has shown that children who have experienced any kind of family change have poorer behavioural outcomes than children in stable two-biological parent families. Children from single parent families tend to have poorer cognitive and behavioural outcomes than those from intact families

Some western studies have noted greater problem behaviours in children from families with unmarried mothers or it has been more for boys than girls. The research study attributes this greater prevalence to limited supervision, strained financial resources, social isolation, and fewer coping supplies compared with children in traditional two-parent families. Also, youths from single parent families appear to be more to peer pressure and more likely to be make decisions without consulting a parent.

A related study found higher percentage of psychiatric disorders like depression, anxiety and mood disorders or alcoholism in single mothers. Being raised in such homes double the risk for children to develop emotional behaviour problems. Both such children as such as well as their parents showed lower ego functioning, lower self esteem, less empathy, greater aggression, fighting and vandalism, less tolerance for negative behaviour and more likelihood to display non age-appropriate behaviours. These problems are linked to future adult crimes, drug and alcohol miss-use, unemployment, poor physical health and mental disorders.

Being a single parent and struggling for money often coincides. Economic hardship has been found to cause emotional distress in parents, which can in turn hamper parent’s ability to be supportive, sensitive and consistent with their children. Also in a study carried out by one of the researchers noted that single parent homes are more likely to be low-economic homes. These children would therefore be subject to problems associated with their socio- economic group. When there is only one parent, the family is often less well off financially and this is the main reason for so many family problems. The report of the study shows that effect of coming from a low-income family can include things like lower educational level; lower economic achievement and can result in leaving the child feeling isolated and lonely.

The study was concerned with the well-being of the child in the absence of one parent the outcome of the study draws our attention to the fact that children raised by one biological parent fare worse on a host of social and economic measures than children raised by both biological parents. Single parent families tend to be poorer than are two-parent families.

Given that family economic status is an important determinant of children’s education, it is evident that difference in economic studying between children from single parent homes and intact homes explain some of the educational differences between them. The absence of one parent have serious effects on the adolescent as homes led by single mothers experience lower household income which eventually influences their educational opportunities and success in school.

Children affected by the negative effect of single parenthood continue on with their lives; however, the lasting effect of divorce have been shown to follow some children into their adulthood, including their marriage and own children’s life. The negative views of relationships that have been instilled due to exposure of their “childhood” family conflict can cause long term effects on these now adult and their own children. According to the researcher, adults who are able to recall a high level of conflict between parents while growing up tend to report disproportionately a large number of psychological and marital problems in their own lives.

Many of these adult children continue to struggle in their everyday lives with symptoms of depression, anxiety and overall feeling of dissatisfaction with their overall lives. In fact, many of adult children will utilize more mental health services than will the adult children of two parent households.

It has been found that parental divorce is associated with lower socio-economic status in adulthood, compared with children from two-parent families, children with divorced parents are more likely to drop out of high school, less likely to attend college, and complete fewer years of education overall. Many believe that this is due to the emotional disturbance that is caused in disrupted and chaotic households and a child’s potential to form a poor sense of self. This poor sense of self and instability in relationships can lead to still other relationship troubles including infidelity, reoccurring divorce and remarriages and in extreme cases spousal and domestic abuse.

Much research that has been published appears to point a picture of somewhat bleak situation. This picture has made the individuals that are affected and involved appear as though they are all hopeless, anxious and somewhat mix up. Fortunately, there is also evidence that children from single parent, divorced or broken homes, with support, have and supported sense of self have become successful adults, and capable of positive marriage and relationships with their own children and have formulated the will to survive.

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