Table of Contents
Human families are conventionally expected to comprise of two parents and their children under normal set ups. For this reason alone, the phenomenon of single parenthood is a sort of an unconventional occurrence. Usually arising from the separation of parents caused by a number of reasons including divorce, separation, death or any other means, single parent families have become more common in the last few decades as society changes and women becoming more and more empowered. With divorce and marital separation being the highest contributors to the rise in number of single parent families, there arises the need to look at the advantages, where there exist any, of such family set ups. One of the most notable features of single parent families is the presence of a mother, especially where such families came to be through divorce or separation. For this reason, much of the contents of the essay herein shall look at single parenting from the mothers’ perspective; only viewing such families through the fathers’ perspective occasionally and selectively if need be.
Benefits of Single Parenting
Comparatively, especially for skeptics and conservative family loving scholars, the advantages of single parenting are evidently fewer than the disadvantages. The fact that lots of successful individuals have come from single parent families however necessitated this study and serves to embolden the effort to paint the advantages of such a family set up. First of all, a lot of single parent families have come to being as a result of the mother’s choice to have children later on in life, often occasioned by the need to have a good education and a great career. As Kunz (2013) notes of this, the children born to such mothers often tend to have a better quality of life as their mothers strive to accomplish their needs wholly and substantively. With a better quality of life, such children are likely to perform better in schools and be more successful in their endeavors later on in life. Still on this, such women are likely to have fewer children than those that got married earlier on in life or have lower educational achievements, as Hetherington (2014) posits. This alone has been shown to contribute to better living standards for the children.
With inadequacy comes resilience, as Koehler (2013, p. 208) so eloquently claims. Drawing from this assertion, single parents are more likely to show affection and offer their children more attention as compared to conventional parenting set ups. This could be attributed to Koehler (2013)’s claim of “inadequacy” in such family set ups. Since single parents have no partner with whom to share the responsibility of raising the children, the onus is on them to show such children affection and give them the requisite attention. The fact that children from single parent families are on average more likely to have their desires, provided circumstances allow, goes to lend credence to the assertion that inadequacy might cause resilience. While single parents may have to work harder and longer than parents in conventional family setups, the outcome of their labour is dedicated to the wellbeing and welfare of their children. Single parents tend to be more selfless in so far as their children’s general welfare and lifestyle is concerned.
Sometimes marriages do not work out great and the likelihood of violence emerges. Children from violent homes tend to have more problems coping with their own environment and with their own peers. In comparison, children from peaceful homes and single parent homes tend to fare better on such a front. In this regard, as Roman (2011, p. 579) notes, children from single parent homes are likely to fit in better with their peers and therefore less likely to be involved in delinquent behavior including crime and drug use. From this perspective, it is clear that single parenting may pose advantages not just for the children but also for the parents. Evidence from empirical research has indicated that women from violent marriages are more likely to be stressed and achieve less than those with no partners and those from peaceful marriages. As such, single parent women are more likely to be emotionally stable and have more fulfilling lives; this is critical in helping such women ensure better lives for their kids.
It is common for a good number of children from single parent families to excel in life. Examples abound of such individuals that rose from single parent families and succeeded in their various endeavors in a host of fields from music, to academia, to politics and many other fields. According to Meier, Musick, Flood & Dunifon (2016, p. 654), single parent families may at times create the ideal breeding ground for hardwork and defying the odds. Comparatively, in the view of Chan & Koo (2011, p. 387) while studying parenting styles in the UK and the outcomes of such on the youth it is likely that given similar socioeconomic conditions and all other factors held constant, children from single parent families are likely to achieve higher than their counterparts from two parent families and from violent marriage families. They however post the disclaimer that not all single parent family set ups tend to elicit the desire to achieve among kids.
Single parent families are unconventional and less than ideal. For many, they represent the failure of the institution of marriage. With those and many other drawbacks in mind, a case can be made for the single parent family setup. Peace, stability and harmony are just but a few of the advantages single parent families tend to confer upon kids. Deeper affection and support are also among the benefits that single parent families tend to possess, especially over broken marriage families or violent marriages. The empowerment of the parent, especially in the case where it is a woman is also a plus for the single family set up. Just from these upsides alone, it is clear that there are many benefits of the phenomenon of single parenting to both the kids and the parent even in as much as the existence of such a set up arises from less than ideal situations.
- Chan, T. W., & Koo, A. (2011). Parenting Style and Youth Outcomes in the UK. European Sociological Review, 27(3), 385-399.
- Hetherington, E. M. (ed) (2014). Coping with Divorce, Single Parenting, and Remarriage: A Risk and Resiliency Perspective (63-68). New York, NY: Psychology Press.
- Koehler, A. N. (2013). A Review of “Broken Circle – Children of Divorce” Karen Klein. (2012). Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy, 12(2), 208-209.
- Kunz, J. (2013). THINK Marriages and Families (2nd ed). Upper Saddle River, N.J: Pearson Higher Education.
- Meier, A., Musick, K., Flood, S., & Dunifon, R. (2016). Mothering Experiences: How Single Parenthood and Employment Structure the Emotional Valence of Parenting. Demography 53, 649–674
- Roman, N. V. (2011). Maternal Parenting in Single and Two-Parent Families in South Africa from a Child’s Perspective. Social Behavior and Personality: an International Journal, 39(5), 577-585.