The Effects of Single Parenting on the Family
Single parenting has been a part of me throughout my entire life. Being raised in a single parent home, my mother struggled to support her four children. Today, I also am a single parent experiencing many of the same stressors my mother had to endure. While observing my mother juggle the time she spent working, mentoring her children, and participating in church activities, I had no idea of the complexity of her daily struggles. Now that I am experiencing the same situation, I recognize that much research has been completed on the issue of single parenting and its effects on the family. Many researchers, based on statistical data, believe that children born in two-parent homes have less health, behavioral, and educational problems than children of single-parent households (Amato 4). My personal concern of this topic has left me with several questions. Does family structure predict the future outcome of children's health, educational accomplishments, social behavior, economic class, or chances of also becoming a single parent? Or is the effectiveness of quality parenting and developing strong parent-child relationships most important? Two sociologists, McLanahan and Sandefur, have come to the conclusion that this particular family structure limits children and results in lower achievements in academics and other areas of life (McLanahan). In this paper, I will give an overall view of the life of a single parent including problems they face and the effects it has on the family. Single-parent families are on the rise and they are becoming as common as the nuclear family, which consist of a father, mother, and children. "Ninety percent of single-parent families are headed by females" (Kirby). This drastic increase is causing a paradigm shift in how "the family" is viewed. A few decades ago, the typical American family was a nuclear family with the father as the "breadwinner". Although traditions are fading, two-parent homes experience some of the same issues as single-parents families, but dealing with these issues alone can be extremely difficult. Single parents include those who are alone as a result of divorce, premarital intercourse resulting in pregnancy, death of a spouse, or single-parent adoption. "With approximately 1 out of 3 marriages ending in divorce, marital dissolutions are great contributors to the overall numbers of single-parents" (Balswick 309). Increased pre-marital intercourse is also another cause for the constant incline of single-parent homes in America. "In 1965, 24 percent of black infants and 3.1 percent of white infants were born to single mothers. By 1990 the rates had risen to 64 percent for black infants, 18 percent for whites" (Akerlof). In a span of 25 years, the percentages increased 266% in blacks and 580% in whites. Although single parents are faced with several challenges, the greatest obstacle is the lack of monetary resources (Balswick 315). This is the greatest challenge that several of my single parent friends, including males, and I are experiencing. When I was in the military, income was steady and sufficient, and single parenting didn't seem to be such a difficult task. Now that I am no longer a member of the Armed Forces, I am having difficulty coping with the drastic decrease in annual income while previous debts remain the same. "Mother-only families are more likely to be poor because of the lower earning capacity of women, inadequate public assistance and childcare subsidies, and lack of enforced child support from nonresidential fathers" (Kirby). Although poverty is commonplace among all single parents, African-American mothers seem to be the lowest on the totem pole. In Single-parent Families in Poverty, Jacqueline Kirby states that:
African-American single mothers [
] may experience the most adverse
consequences of unemployment because their earnings constitute a greater...
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