Single parenthood has long been criticized as having negative impacts on children. Discuss society’s changing views on single parenting? Definition of Single Parenthood in Relation to Marriage and Family Single-parent families are defined as families with children under age eighteen, headed by a parent who is widowed or divorced and not remarried, or by a parent who has never married (Advameg, 2013). Over 60% of all children and youth in the United States will live in a single-parent family at some time before they reach age 18 (Wehman, 2000).
According to the United States Census Bureau, in 2008, 7.2% of American households were made up of female headed single parent families and 1.9% households were made up of male-headed single-parent families (Lamanna & Riedmann, 2012, p. 8). Single mother can be single mothers by choice or single mothers by circumstance. Single mother by choice purposefully conceive and intend to raise their child without a partner whereas single mother by circumstance become single mothers in ways other than purposeful choice (Lamanna & Reidmann, 2012, p. 260). In case of single fathers, half of nearly 2 million fathers are never married, significant proportion are divorced and much smaller fraction are widowed Lamanna and Reidmann (2012, p. 261). Impact of Single Parenthood in the Family
Single mothers report feeling stigmatized in a society that strongly advocates a two-parent child-rearing model due to disgrace attached to unwed motherhood (Lamanna & Reidmann, 2012, p. 260). Negative attitude about unmarried parenthood encourage society wide reluctance to provide resources for single mothers and their children (Lamanna & Reidmann, 2012). Financial problems are one of the major problems found in single parent families. Single parenting is often accompanied by and struggle for money. Approximately seventy percent of single-parent mothers live in poverty, earning less than $13,000 annually (Ketteringham, 2007).
Decreased financial resources can lead to lower education level, lower economic achievement and can result in leaving the child feeling isolated and lonely (Ketteringham, 2007). Children of one-parent households are generally less supervised, their actions are less monitored and there is usually less communication between the child and parent which might lead to a negative family environment. Children from single parent household are at risk for lower levels of educational achievement, school dropout, emotional and behavioral problems, parental conflict, drug and alcohol abuse, high-risk sexual behavior, gang involvement, imprisonment, suicide (Advameg, 2013). Furthermore children from single parent homes are more likely to become teen parents and have high incidence of divorce in adulthood (Advameg, 2013).
The negative aspects of single-motherhood are poor economic resources, longer working hours, which consequently leads to less time for the children (Lamanna & Reidmann, 2012, p. 260). In contrast to single mothers, single fathers usually lack good communication skills with their children. This leads to children of single-father households being more likely to abuse drug, alcohol, and to have had sex at an earlier age (Ketteringham, 2007). Most Impacted in Single Parent Family
Whether headed by a mother or father, single parent homes have more to deal with than two-parent homes. Single parents might be more stressed and lonely as there is no other adult with whom to share decision-making, discipline and financial responsibilities whereas the children might suffer from low self-esteem, depression and stress themselves (Advameg, 2013; Ketteringham, 2007). Due to the possibility of long lasting negative impact, children seem to be impacted the most. Children do not have the coping skills of the adult. Negative impact during their formative years can affect their future and significantly damage their life course.
Addressing the Issue of Single Parenthood
Many single-parent families have successfully thrived in today’s world by finding balance in their lives. Single parents can ensure positive experiences for children by finding safe child care, establishing a consistent rules, discipline and home routine, allowing the child to be a child and not asking him or her to solve adult problems, knowing the important people (teachers, coaches, friends) in the child’s life, answering questions about the other parent calmly and honestly, avoiding behavior that causes the child to feel pressed to choose between divorced parents and explaining financial limitations honestly (Advameg, 2013). Having rituals as eating dinner together can help foster communication, understanding and let everyone in the family know what is going in other person’s life.
Single parents also need to establish strong support networks, personal friendships, and new social networks (Ketteringham, 2007). Single parent need to improve life for themselves by participating in activities that increase their self-esteem as single parent’s sense of self-respect provides a safe feeling for their children. By continuing their education, single mother can have an added advantage of higher incidence of financial independence and boosts in their self-esteem (Lamanna ; Reidmann, 2012) Role of Society
Society needs to learn that every single parent household is unique with its unique strength and needs. Hence, they should not stereotype or generalize single parent families. With single parenthood being such a common phenomenon in today’s society, we should take a close look at the research in this type of family and effects it can have. School system can be more supportive , workplace needs to be flexible to allow the parent to balance the work and family and family members themselves need to be aware of unique stressors of single parenting and should get help from society when things get tough. By establishing and participating in support groups for single parents, single parent families can be better equipped for tough circumstances in their life. Parents Without Partners is one good example of single-parenting support group. If parents have time constraints, they can also join online support group as internet based M.O.M.S which offers practical assistance as providing business clothes for those in need (Lamanna & Reidmann, 2012).
Relationship between Single Parenthood and other Class Concepts Single parenthood is related to many concepts discussed in class. Divorce rate and separation from cohabitation significantly increases single parenthood. Society is changing and the changing society now no longer views marriage as an unbreakable contract. When marriage no longer satisfies the needs of the individuals, individuals separate leading to greater incidence of single parenthood. Gay, lesbian or single individuals seeking to reproduce without romantic partnership also increases the incidence of single parenthood. As single parenthood today is such a common phenomenon, the success of a single family now significantly marks the success of society as a whole.