The role of parents in the development of a child is undoubtedly essential for his or her future well-being, both emotional and psychical. Being raised by both father and mother, a child grows up as a balanced harmonious personality with a positive family model. On the contrary, if there is only one parent, in particular mother, in the household, it can have harmful results for a youngster in future. Down below, several aspects of this problem will be highlighted. In particular, the phenomenon of single motherhood and the way it influences children. Then, the reasons that cause it will be explored. Also, works of various authors on this topic will be explored and analyzed, and conclusions made.
Traditionally, in restricted sense a family is taken as a union of two people, a man and a woman, and their children. Family is a constituent part of society, playing an essential role in the formation and development of its members represented by children. Apparently, it is important that a child is able to contact with both his/her mother and father in order to fulfill his or her need for attention and care to feel safe and happy.
However, nowadays the number of families that function with only one parent who is typically a mother, is increasing. As a result, the number of children raised in a single parent household continues to rise. The effects of the absence of one parent may be far going causing the child’s emotional and behavioral disorders, problems with socializing or failure in academic achievements. Besides, being raised by a single mother, a child faces such difficulty as the lack of attention and care. The reason is that single mothers have to work more to support their family financially, which means they are not able to pay enough attention to how their child is doing at school and provide their son or daughter with appropriate guidance regarding homework.
As for emotional sphere, children of single mothers tend to be more disposed to various stressful factors such as sadness, depression, low self-esteem or increased level of aggression. What leads to this is the fact that single mother’s household is often at risk of living in poverty lacking the second parent’s (i.e. father’s) income. The stress that mother feels about it is transferred to her child causing various effects on him or her. Insufficient level of income influences greatly the child’s ability to socialize with the peers as well. A child from a low income family usually cannot afford the things (i.e. clothes, mobile phones or access to entertainment) that are affordable for the children from the two-parent families. That is why such children often isolate themselves from the group, or the rest of youngsters of their age can simply banish them from the group.
Still, it is not only the money factor that children raised by single mothers suffer from. What is even more essential is that they often feel the lack of mother’s love and attention, as their mothers are constantly busy at work,. This is where the feelings of sadness, abandonment and loneliness come from. However, according to the research in this area, those children who still have contact with their fathers (even not living together) do better at socializing and academics than the youngsters that have no relations with their male parent at all.
Yet, the effects of a single-mother household mentioned above are not the worse that can happen. There is a tendency that children raised by single mothers are more inclined to being imprisoned (boys) or end up with early pregnancy (girls). On the contrary, the research shows that children from married homes are less likely to be incarcerated or show delinquent behavior, because they receive necessary attention and monitoring from both their parents.
Apparently, one of the reasons why single-mother families appear is that the world-view of modern women, as well as their self-appraisal, is cardinally different from what it was even fifty years ago. Nowadays, women are much more independent and self-sufficient, they often have well-paid jobs being equal to men, and they are definitely more concentrated on their career and success as professionals. It takes much time and efforts to remain on top. Besides, they leave not so much place for traditional feminine features like tenderness, softness and sensitiveness. On the contrary, the masculine characteristics (i.e. firmness and goal-directedness) become highly valued. Because of that, women often have difficulties with mutual understanding and interaction with their partners. Also, the desire to build a career first leads to the unwillingness of women to get married. What also matters is that women who can support themselves without being married are more picky about their prospective partner; they can also afford to raise a child on their own being more independent economically.
The next important factor is the level of education of potential parents, as well as the level of their welfare. Basically, men and women that have college education tend to divorce less frequently than those with low educational level. Moreover, they are more into getting married, whilst the latter ones are more likely to end up being a single parent. However, it is not only women that contribute to single households’ increasing rate. Men are involved as well. In a modern society, it is rather hard for poorly educated men to find a well-paid job. In its turn, it makes them less attractive as potential marriage partners for women, no matter how successful the latter are themselves.
Apart from all these reasons, the changes in the moral sphere life of society influenced the increasing number of single-mother households a lot. Beginning from the 1960s, the condemnation of nonmarital childbearing became less strict, and later it was taken as almost a norm for couples to live together without being married.
That is why both the changing morals and values of the society have formed the new attitude to marriage among men and women. Nowadays, people tend to value personal freedom and welfare, as well as career growth, more than family orientation. The self-development is placed first, while traditional family values are more often driven to the background. Such selfishness does not work well for building a strong loving family. Also, young people tend to lose trust in marriage itself taking it as something archaic. Women nowadays are stronger and more confident than they were before, and they often do not think of a man as an inseparable part of family life.
Surprisingly, the scientists and sociologists report that there are some positive aspects about single-mother households, as well. For example, children raised by single mothers tend to be more responsible, due to the fact that they have more duties about the household. Also, such children often have stronger bonds with their mothers and distant relatives, than the youngsters from two-parent families. According to Wolf (n.d.), children of single mothers are more used to dealing with their disappointments and conflicts. Moreover, they have healthier approach to life being able to balance their desires with the others’ needs.
However, even despite the positive impact that single mothers seem to have on their children, growing up without father does influence male and female youngsters in a good way. Having a father figure beside is very important for a child, being it a boy or a girl. For boys, a father represents everything relating to masculinity. It is the father who, when being involved, contributes to forming such typical masculine features as strength, confidence, desire to explore and take a reasonable risk. Father is also the main example of the positive mail model for a boy. No matter how good and involved the mother is, she is not able to perform a male role model for her son. As for the girls, the possibility to contact with a male parent plays an essential role for them as well. The presence of the father helps to form a positive attitude to men in general, as well as form a positive vision of a family as it is. Besides, it helps a girl to develop the features that may not be typical for her, but are still useful. Instead, when growing up only with her mother, a girl may often end up conflicting with her, which may lead to further misunderstanding. Finally, for both boys and girls, having the second parent means one more source of parental love and care, helping them to grow up into balanced personalities. In single-mother families, children often lack love and attention they need, because of the single mother’s inability to function efficiently as a parent.
As a result, the conclusion can be made that the impact a single-mother household has on a child is significant for the child’s future social and emotional development . Despite the fact that being raised by a single mother may also have positive results, the two-parent households are traditionally more efficient and supportive for children than those with only one (female) parent. A child from a single-mother family tends to receive less parental care and attention because the mother is always busy and pressed for time. Such children are more likely to have various emotional problems, such as depression, sense of loneliness or even aggression. Single-parent household also influences the child’s academic achievements and the efficiency of their communication with the peers.
The way single motherhood influences children comes from the position of women in a modern society. Women are much more independent nowadays and are often able to raise a child themselves in terms of financial aspects. Such independence and the prime concern for career lead to unwillingness to get married. The society should return to the traditional institution of marriage with its family values and strong marital bounds to avoid the harmful impact single motherhood has on children.