Single parenting is where a parent lives alone and takes most of the day to day the responsibilities in taking care of a child or children without a spouse or partner, in other words single parent involves a single person plus a dependent child (more likely to be a female parent) and is sometimes referred to as the broken nuclear family (where mom and dad and kids live under the same roof but parents decide to spilt-up). In Trinidad and Tobago there are 18 percent single parent and 9 percent single parent extended families (extended single parents is where the parent is living with their family such as mom, dad, siblings etc).
How does one emerge as a single parent?
There many reasons people in society become a single parent. Some reasons are:- Divorce -this is where a couple who have been married and have taken legal action of ending the marriage contract. In Trinidad and Tobago within the period of 2011 to 2013 there are 7,123 couples who applied for divorce. The rate of divorce in Trinidad and Tobago is 26.6 percent. Families are rapidly declining in our country and family foundations are weakening which brings a lot of negative side effects. In the U.S. the divorce rate is 40 to 50 percent of married couples divorce. Divorce can stem from misunderstandings between couples, the relationship grows apart, financial problems, intimacy disappears, not having a shared vision of success and also getting into the marriage for the wrong reasons.
Unwanted pregnancies – are pregnancies that are unplanned where the pregnancy is not desired by one or both biological parents. An unwanted pregnancy happens where the lack of or incorrect use of effective contraceptive and unprotected sex. Trinidad and Tobago every year there are 2,500 teenage pregnancies and in 2008 to 2012 the ministry of education received reports of 153 cases of teenage pregnancies. In the U.S. 49 percent of pregnancies were unplanned and 79 percent of those unplanned pregnancies were teens between the ages of 15 to 17 years old.
Death- single parenting can come about due to the loss of a spouse. This reason of becoming a single parent is tragic and sad. The parent death can be due to illness, accidents, victims of murder and possible suicide.
One night stands – is a single sexual encounter by two individual lasting only one night. A one night stand happens mostly at night clubs, bars and parties where individuals are intoxicated and get carried away and indulged in sexual activities and becomes pregnant.
Absent father- fathers who work long hours to make ends meet in order to live in comfort comfortably and or are not involved in the rearing of the children such as providing the strong father figure by teaching, showing love for his children, instill values, offer proper guidance. Or some fathers who are just plain and simple; have children and is unwilling to be there and provide for them.
Adoption – is where someone legally takes a child from another family or an orphanage. This act is happens when an individual is ready to start a family or who wants a child and can’t have any and the individual raises the child as their own.
Dysfunctional families – is a family where conflicts, abuse and child neglect occurs. The results are meltdown of one of the parents and they leave or abandon their family leaving the other spouse or partner to take care of the child or children. In Trinidad and Tobago there are so many cases of this happening every day. Domestic violence may cause a spouse or partner to leave their family to seek safety for themselves. Another reason that is so common is that a spouse leaves their family for another.
The psychological impact of single parenting
The impact of single parenthood on children is both negative and positive on child development and their behavior. Divorce rates are only climbing and child births outside marriages are also increasing. Single parenting is more frequently a mother than a father. Single parents have a challenge of providing a healthy childhood for their children in comparison where families who have both parents, a single parent have more tasks in up bringing a child or children.
The negative effects divorce has on children
Mothers are the majority vs the fathers of being a single parent, mothers who are a single parent tend to struggle to provide for their child or children, this result in poverty. Children growing up in poverty have effects of depression and behavioral disturbances. Children may have the basic needs e.g. food clothes and shelter but not the “nice things” as compared to their friends and having peer pressure results in low self esteem and depression. Before the divorce took place between the couple disputes and violence may have been present. The nature of the development of the child, who learned what they were conditioned to, may grow up and practice them. For e.g. a boy seeing his father abusing his mother may repeat it in his relationship when he gets older. And for a girl she may allow to be abused by her partner because of what she was exposed to home. Conflict and continue between the parents after the divorce and can affect both parents and child. Also when parents are divorced children may have concerns about expressing feelings about one parent to the other and leading the child to develop a manipulative personality. Visitation and custody problems can arise. Some parents re-marry or live with a companion and the companion may treat the children badly or in some cases where the step father interferes with the step daughter. Thus children would be living in fear. Living arrangements can affect the children in terms of the moving back and forth that prevents them from settling down and can take a toll on their school performance. The responsibilities of being a single parent can be over whelming and in the process children are neglected which results into rebellious behavior such as aggressive personalities where the child is angry at world. Some rebellious behaviors are skipping school, joining gangs, shop lifting and drug abuse. Children also crave attention and when it’s not given they turn somewhere else for it and they turn to the wrong people where they can be abused or be used.
The negative effects of unwanted pregnancies
Pregnancy is practically motherhood, where the development between child and parent begins. Unwanted pregnancy may not always be that, the parents doesn’t want the child but may not be able to provide for the child properly. Some times when unplanned pregnancy happens, the male party leaves while leaving the female to provide for the child making it harder for the mother to take care of her baby. Unwanted child bearing have negative effects on health, social and psychological consequences. Unplanned child bearing can increase the chances of illness and death to both child and the mother. Social problems such as poverty and child abuse. The psychological effect of unplanned pregnancies children have low self – esteem. Children of teenage pregnancies can have birth defects and neurological defects. Unwanted teenage pregnancies hinder a proper education for these young ladies. They are subjected to finger pointing, considered to be promiscuous and be thrown out of school where they are made to feel like an outcast. Teenage pregnancies are high in urban communities and the teenage mother is left to up bring the child on her own. The environmental conditioning plays a huge role of influence on the teenager and their behavior. At this young age teenagers are easy influenced this is where parents should sit and have the conversation of the uncomfortable topic of sex and its consequences. When a teenager becomes pregnant most times they have to leave school to bear and rear the child. The job that these teenagers do doesn’t make much and it results into poverty. With poverty brings a lot of problems, such as child abuse, crime and the use of drugs. In this single parent family the children also have to take on responsibilities sooner than he or she should thus rob them of their childhood. When responsibilities are on young children their academic performance suffers. In some research there’s a twist where young girl choose to have unprotected sex despite having the knowledge about the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases or becoming pregnant. They know all the dangers and still take chances because they tell themselves nothing can’t happen. It’s almost as though they think they’re invincible to some degree that “it won’t happen to me.” Unfortunately unwanted pregnancies are on the rise, and the mothers is left to rear the child, if strong classical conditioning was present in homes where morals and values were highly expected and are kept, unwanted pregnancies can be avoided or reduced.
The effect of single parenting caused by death of a parent and the effects it has on children: There’s many challenges and joy in every part of child’s development and challenges are way higher when one of the parent is deceased. In most cases the challenges are more in the case of a widowed mother. Some challenges are that the woman is left to play the role of both parents. This can affect the personalities of the mother and the circumstances in which a child is being brought up and how the household is going to be run. Most of the time a widowed mother has to raise the child or children on her own, but also have to cope with the loss of a spouse or partner. She also deals with loneliness, though a mother can find someone one new to share her life with, but things are never the same. The financial stress that any single parent are face with is tough but can be tougher with death, cause the couple may had loans and other financial matters that is now left to the widowed mother. Another parenting challenge is that the stress and frustration of dealing with all the responsibilities and not letting that stress affect the child in the process. A single parent family the child usually has to help with chores and house hold responsibilities. The loss of a parent for a child can affect them and can cause them to ask questions why did mom/dad died? Did I cause my parent to die? Are they coming back? What’s going to happen to us? Are many questions asked. And the parent will have to answer and explain. Communication between parent and child is very important and necessary for positive development. Some children experience difficulties with grief and may need professional help. But not all the time a parent can afford the help and this affects the child’s development and their behavior patterns. Children dealing with loss can have aggressive behaviors and anger and may lash out for e.g. be mean to others also some children may get into trouble at school by picking fights or disrespecting the teacher. Children can have sleep difficulties dealing with the loss and this can affect their health. Eating disorders can emerge as a side effect of loss where the child refuses to eat or have little appetite. School difficulties are common among children but loss can increase this difficulty more also they can withdraw from social interactions by pushing away their friends and the can have a self destructive behavior where they engage in risk behaviors such as joining gangs and keeping bad company or they can become cutters and want to hurt themselves.
The effects of child development without a farther
When a woman gets pregnant due to a one night stand and ends up raising the child, the child would obviously ask questions about their father as they grow up. Most times the woman may lie and tell the children that their father left or died. The shame of having to tell a child that he or she was a one night stand result can take a toll and the child behavior may change towards the mother and can feel disgusted of how they were conceived. The absence of a father can affect children behaviors, morals and the values that they hold. A strong father figure is important for a healthy development of a child. Without a father present a boy grows up as the man of that house but he may not know exactly how to carry on that role. Also when he grows up and gets married and have kids he may not be able to be a good father due to not having the classic conditioning of a father in his child hood development. A girl growing up without father may not be able to know how a man supposed to treat a lady and subject themselves to an abusive relationship. Girls can also turn to men in the search of a fulfillment of a male figure in her life. There are also families where the parents are still together but the father may be away from the family leaving the mother to rear the child. The father may not deliberately stay away but have to because of his job. Where he have to work to provide for his family to survive and live comfortable. Both the mother and child is affect by the absent, by the mother having all the day to day responsibilities of rearing the child or children while running the household. Not having that male guidance and comfort of a father’s presence makes the child feel neglected and rejected even though they are aware that their father is away working so that they can have a better and comfortable life. The feeling of being neglected can lead to rebellious behavior where the child part takes in drugs, sex, bad company and skipping school.
The impact of single parenting caused by dysfunctional families The impact of single parenting is hard on both parents and the children. Dysfunctional families contain abuse, violence, child neglect where one parent decides to leave the family leaving the responsibilities on the other parent. Dysfunctional family affects a child’s development by what they were thought home they would carry out when they got older. Such as the boy may see his father abusing his mother and does the same to his wife when he gets married and a girl might allow an abusive relationship to take place. Children being in an environment of violence their personality can be rowdy, boisterous and inconsiderate. These children are likely to be bullies in school, join gang, and live a life of crime or abuse drugs.
Single parenting as a positive
Single parenting has both negative and positive impact on both children and parents. For example couples who are always arguing and fighting can be stressed other with each other which affect the child’s behavior, performance in school and their social skills . When these parents spilt -up children may be able to perform better academically due to less arguing and the stress levels in parents will be alleviated. Children in single parent families may show responsibility sooner than children with both parents, and can grow up with a determine behavior becoming a successful person who have a solid family and vowed to be a better parent than their own parent (where history doesn’t repeats itself). Children who live with one parent can be happier if they resented one of their parents and not being under the same roof bring them happiness. Another positivity of becoming a single parent where the relationship was an abusive one which affects both parent and child can be at peace and can be able to live a life free of physical and mental abuse. Adoption is a positive factor when a person who wants a child and cannot have one adopts. Children who are abandon and left in the care of an orphanage tends to feel rejected, unwanted and an outcast in society. At the age of 18 orphans have to leave the home because they are considered to be an adult. Some of these children turn to a life of crime or drug abuse because of the lack of care, love, attention, and nurture. The person who wants a child and cannot have one and may be lonely and loneliness causes a lot of psychological problems such as depression and suicidal thoughts. One person can adopt once they are able to take care and provide for the child. Adoption changes both the now single parent and the child life where they become a family. This new life breaks the loneliness of the parent and for the child he or she doesn’t feel rejected and unwanted. The behaviors with this family are a positive where the child is nurtured and developed in a home and given the care, love and attention they need where they excel as an individual by improving academically and their rebellious behaviors disappears. And for the parent where the journey begins of responsibility and challenges of a caregiver which is most welcome and accepted.
Being a good single parent
A single parent may be different than those who share this task with another, but their goal is the same—to provide a loving and nurturing environment for your children, helping them become strong, independent adults. Single parenting becomes overwhelming and has obstacles such as loneliness, grief, hurt, sadness, rejection, guilt, insecurity, and depression. When accompanied by financial pressures, hectic schedules, and the stress of everyday activities, these feelings can easily make a parent want to give up and children can experience these same feelings. Many single parents discover new strength and independence. Children, too, can learn and grow from a single parent home. They have a great opportunity to contribute to their families and learn more about their own worth and abilities. Single parenting can be viewed as a tragedy or parents can have an optimistic attitude and bring about happiness and hope. Parents need to take time to communicate and find out what is going in their children’s life for e.g. see what type of friends their kids are keeping and give them the attention that they crave. Parenting challenges faced by widows are immense; as they play the role of both mother and father, they might feel overwhelmed by the load of responsibilities that is on their shoulders therefore, it is of utmost importance that they have excellent organisational and time management skills.
Statistics of parenting in Trinidad and Tobago and the U.S. The family type percentage in Trinidad
Nuclear family 50%
Extended family 21%
Single parent 18% single extended 9%
There are approximately 70,000 fewer fathers than mothers in Trinidad. 69% of women said they had children compared to 53% was men. 16% of men deny that they are fathers. In the 2000 census 50,000 men have fathered children with more than one female. (See appendix for the article taken from the Trinidad express newspapers titled “more moms than dads”).
Statistics about American children
1 in 2 will live in a single parent family at some point in childhood 1 in 3 is born to unmarried parents
1 in 4 lives with only one parent
1 in 8 is born to a teenage mother
1 in 25 lives with neither parent
Divorce status in America
68.7% of American Youth are living in non-traditional families 7 out of 10
23.3% living with biological mother (Step-family Association) 4.4% living with biological father (Step-family Association) 1% Foster Families (U.S. Census Bureau)
3.7% living with non-relatives (U.S. Census Bureau)
6.3% living with grandparents (AARP - U.S. Census Bureau)
30% living in Step-families ** (Step-family Association)
Single parenting is a difficult task as compared to a family that has both parents. But the reality is that, the world’s percentage rate of single parenting is growing and parenting is deteriorating. In society children are different as from children 20 years ago. For e.g. when child would say good morning when entering a room, but that is no longer the case. In Trinidad and Tobago culture single parenting is not a responsibility of the parent alone but their extended family such as grandparents, aunts and uncles etc. Parenting is a huge responsibility and shouldn’t be taken lightly cause after all these children are the future generation. And we want a generation of hard-working, strong, educated, respectful individuals. Child development is important and reflects a child’s behaviour and emotional intelligence. Therefore classic conditioning is the foundation and nature, nature has its effects on the of children behaviour.
Enclosed is an article taken from the Newsday news papers.
This is giving an insight of how Trinidad and Tobago’s rate of mother vs fathers parenting are taking place.
Name : Christal Nandlal
ID# : 20120635
Course : Psychology
Lecturer: Miss Maureen Bowen