Single Parenthood: Definition & Effects on Children

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  • 0:01 Single Parenthood
  • 0:59 Issues for the Children
  • 2:43 Issues for the Parents
  • 4:17 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

What does it mean to be a single parent? How might single parenthood influence both children and their parents? In this lesson, we'll explore the impact that single parenthood can have on children and single parents.

Almost 25% of households are single-parent households, and over 1/3 of children are born to parents who aren't married. In this lesson, we'll look at some of the possible effects of being raised by only one parent.

Single Parenthood

Brandon is a single father. He worries about raising his daughter on his own. He's heard that children with just one parent don't do as well as children with two parents. Is it bad for Brandon's daughter to be in a one-parent household?

Brandon is worried about single parenthood, or the act of raising a child or children with only one parent in the house. Single parenthood is very common in the US and can be caused by many things: death, divorce, and non-marriage are all contributors to single parenthood. Many people have opinions about single parenthood and its effect on people. Like Brandon, many single parents worry that they cannot provide for their children in the same way a that two-parent household might provide. But, is that true? To help Brandon figure out the truth, let's look at what research says about single parenthood - both in terms of the children and the parents.

Issues for the Children

Brandon's daughter has been struggling a little in school, and sometimes, it seems like she's upset or depressed because she doesn't have a mother. Is his being single contributing to his daughter's problems? Some studies have shown that children in single-parent households don't do as well as their peers who live in two-parent households. It is true that, on average, children of single parents don't do as well academically, socially, or emotionally as those raised by both their biological parents.

The biggest difference is academically. That is, children of single parents, like Brandon's daughter, don't do as well in school as some of their peers. However, there are some important things for Brandon to keep in mind. First of all, those studies are based on statistical averages, and there is variation among families. That is, there are some children who do really well with a single parent, and some children fall behind even with both of their biological parents in the house. Second, the studies show that the kids of single parents don't do as well on average as the children who are being raised by both biological parents in the house. That's not always true of step-parents. For example, some studies have shown that children raised by a father and step-mother don't do as well as those being raised by a father alone. Finally, it's important to realize that often, the issue isn't the make-up of the family, but how it interacts. Many studies have shown that conflict at home is detrimental to children. Whether a kid is being raised by a single parent, step-parent, or by both of their biological parents, they won't do as well as a child in a low-conflict household. Thus, if Brandon is a supportive dad - and he is - his daughter is likely to be just fine in the long run.

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