Monica Nicholas & Taylor Evans
“Living apart from natural fathers can be associated with poverty and negative outcomes for children.” Lisa Calderwood, London University, Institute of Education
Scotty was a happy little four year old boy when his parents were divorced. He stayed with his mom in Arizona while his father became a part of the Navy. Scotty’s dad was on ships and overseas for a long time, missing so much of his son’s life. Overtime, Scotty had behavioral problems at home and at school, his grades were slipping, and his once stable environment was taken away and replaced many times. Through the years, his mom was married and divorced numerous times. As Scotty got older, he became the father figure to his younger siblings. Throughout all this time, Scotty’s mom started breaking down emotionally and he was in the middle. His mom married again and again to fill a void. There were men who abused Scotty and threw him down flights of stairs and there were men who also took him in and loved him like he was their own.
When he was getting to his sophomore year in high school, he decided that he had had enough and he moved to Utah to live with Grandma and Grandpa Pulham. Scotty now had a blank slate to start again. He started his new high school, made new friends, was going to church services, and seemed to find some of the structure he was missing in his life. However, soon after he started school his grades were drastically dropping. He was failing every class, he was having behavioral problems like he had before, as well as having problems at home. Grandma and Grandpa as well as two of his aunts who live there did everything that they could think of to help him and to deal with his behavioral problems and emotional distress. It eventually led to him dropping out of school. He recently moved back to Arizona and is living with his other grandparents and working.
In respect to the family you will notice that all too often this is the life of children born to broken and single-parent homes. All too often you will find that the child suffers much like Scotty, and can sometimes have his or hers development dramatically hindered. The Telegraph reported that, “12% of children brought up by one parent displayed a series of behavioral problems by the age of seven whereas six percent when you are raised by both parents.” These statistics show the crucial importance of children being raised in a two-parent household.
Throughout school, Scotty had several behavioral problems. He was disruptive during class, got in fights, sloughed class, as well as multiple other behavioral issues, not only in school but also with family. A mother’s role is very important when it comes to raising a child, as is a fathers, but it needs to be done together. Whether you are a father or mother, being a single parent will put a strain on a child’s development; cognitively, physically, emotionally, and socially.
Factors that play a role in single-parent homes
Single-parent households are often compromised in the area of economic well-being. McLanahan states, “Indicators of economic conditions account for as much as one-half of the single mother ‘effect’ on children’s educational performance.” Single mothers often reside, of necessity, in lower income neighborhoods. When the family lives in these lower socioeconomic neighborhoods, it results in the child experiencing higher rates of crime and violence and having to go to a lower income school. This can affect their future by lowering their chance at receiving a good secondary education, and their future in gaining post-high school education, and thus receiving good employment and becoming a highly functioning and contributing member of society.
Another factor that comes into play from low economic status is families do not have the means to provide for their children with many of life’s basic necessities let alone books, classes, tutors, computers and other important aids to help them grow and develop.
Whether you’re male or female, your family structure is more prone to suffer if you are a single parent. Your child’s emotional and social needs might not be met due to lack of consistency in the home because of work or other circumstances. A fluctuating work schedule and other reasons may cause the parent to be absent while the child is home and that can result in rules to be broken, grades to drop and supervision to be left to the child. This can in turn cause emotional stress on your child and take a toll on their development and education achievements.
Many educators can see the type of stress that single parent households are under, not only from the child’s standpoint but also from the parent’s stand point. Often the community is able to help the single parents by creating opportunities for the child to spend their time while their parent is away at work. If a single mom or dad is having a hard time trying to find a safe place for their child to go they should look into their local schools to find different aids that are there for them. There are opportunities for your child to continue to grow developmentally be means of after school programs along with clubs and sports, provided for your child to make sure they have a safe place to go to after school and can continue to excel in every way developmentally.
How do we avoid these problems for ourselves and our children?
Researchers tell us that it is really quite simple and if you do these three things your chances of having a successful marriage and life are dramatically increased:
1. Finish High School
2. Marry BEFORE having children
3. Marry after age 20
Only eight percent of people who do all three are poor, while 79 percent who fail to do so are impoverished. Seems pretty simple and you owe it to yourself, and most importantly, to your children.
Monica Nicholas attends Brigham Young University-Idaho and is majoring in child development. She is from Preston, Idaho.
Taylor Evans is a recent graduate of BYU-Idaho with a bachelors in Child Development. She plans to go on to receive a master’s degree in social work. She grew up in Henderson Nevada.