Forty-five to fifty percent of marriages end in divorce and sixty percent of kids will have their parents separated at one point before they are eighteen. (Kittleson pg149) It is an all too genuine reality that a child will grow up in a single parent family because of this. That’s not even including the amount of kids who have faced the tragedy of a parent dying.
These kids will have untold amounts of hardships and hurdles to face in their life, from not being able to play a game of ball with dad or never having the chance to go for a walk with their mother on a warm spring day. It seems as if they are forced to grow up instantly and face the nasty truth that people don’t live forever and not all love lasts forever. The children of single-parent families face different emotional, social and financial problems than those of their two-parent family counter parts.
In the immortal words of the Wu-Tang Clan “Cash rules everything around me”. Almost everything in life revolves around money. This is no exception for a single-parent family. With the loss of a major source of income many of these families descend quickly into poverty. Two-parent families make on average 70,000 dollars a year, a single mother normal makes about 40,000 dollars a year and single fathers make about 60,000 dollars a year (whitehead pg16). Out of all the female single-parent families about half live under the poverty line (kittleson pg143).
This has to do both with the trends of women receiving on average twenty-five percent lower child support rates then men (kittleson) and large differences in annual income. Because of this many people started to think that the mothers were the cause of poverty and this is not true. Poverty in most cases was the reason for divorce in the first place (young pg75). The fathers still face the problem of poverty about twelve percent of single-father families find their way under the poverty line also. Poverty is not something that just haunts around the kid’s childhood it can also follow them into adulthood. Statistics show that the children who grow up in single-parent households are five times more likely to live in poverty as an adult. (Kittleson pg142)
The children of single-parents act differently than those of two-parented kids. Some act out and others try hard to fill the shoes of the lost parent. With a parent missing around the house the child would be trusted into responsibilities they might yet to be prepared for. (Kittleson pg145) Many start to become less imaginative and passive watchers throughout life. (zinmeister442) Some even start to experience social isolation because of the lack of a lack of friends. (Kittleson pg 150) This is not true for all children though some run from the responsibility.
They start to become demanding, unaffectionate and disobedient. These dependent kids are more likely to abuse drugs, alcohol and become pregnant. (Whitehead pg10) Publicly these kids are now being accepted better than ever before. A community always helps support the children of a dead parent and divorce becomes more common every day.
The only situation where a child might be looked down upon is in a situation where the parents were never married, but that too is become a more and more common occurrence. Women are now choosing to have their own children without an actual father. Births to unmarried mothers have gone up thirty percent in the last 30 years. (Kittleson pg 150) Still the kids of these families face issues. Our culture makes large marriage a life defining accomplishment and as long as this is the norm the choice that the parent made to stay single all their life will make their child’s life infinitely harder. (Young pg73)
Emotional problems are some of the most damaging issues a child can face. Researchers have said that single-parent children are two-three times more likely to develop emotional problems. (Whitehead pg 11) Also studies have shown that they develop a “go in alone” ideology because of the lost relationship with the missing parent. (Kittleson pg 157) It is said that the kids will eventually “bounce back” after a hard hit or loss, but this is not true many do not ever recover and these troubles often follow the kids into adulthood. (Whitehead pg11)
Social scientists did a group study on sixteen children in divorced homes. Eleven of these kids developed a list of dilemmas which included grief, resentment, depression and physical aggression. (Zinseister pg 44) The emotional baggage that these kids carry is almost crippling. It does not just destroy their own image of themselves but it wreaks havoc on their home life and social life. They might experience emotional isolation.
This means they feel lonely because they lack a single intense relationship that most kids have with a parent. (Kittleson pg 155) These close relationships are highly important to their development. It has been noted that a child needs at least one close relationship to become a functioning adult. However two or more has a more positive effect on the child than the singular close relationship. (whitehead pg13) since all of these problems occur in a child’s life because of the loss of two parent life style the world might have to face the fact that not all families are equal. Single-parent families just might differ and produce a different outcome for the children. (Whitehead pg 11)
With all of these hardship kids face in single-parent families it makes one think does the outcome change with the different ways of the family becoming parented by one adult? The two most common single parent families are ones that went through divorce and those that had a parent die. In the case of death many kids go through grief, but they are not alone in their troubles the parent that’s left is often also going through it and other family members and friends. (Whitehead pg14) The child has multiple places to go to cope with their pain.
These places include family and a religious place of worship. (Kittleson pg 138) Older children might act out in various bad ways, but a lot use their feelings in constructive ways. (Kittleson pg 136) The older children can understand death is a permanent thing and their loved one is never coming back. The older teens might try and keep their feelings tucked inside so they do not further upset those around them. (Kittleson pg 138)
Younger kids on the other hand have not yet come to the conclusion that death is forever. They might start to develop nightmares and blame themselves for the parent for “leaving”. (Kittelson pg 137) Some kids might even claim to have herd or even seen the dearly departed.
This is a normal occurrence for the young because they are so used to seeing the parent every day that it is hard for them to just to disappear completely out of their life, so they accidently imagine the loved ones there. (Kittleson pg 136) Death is a traumatic thing when you don’t even know the person, but when it is your own parent its extremely hard. For some reason those families who have suffered from death both teens and kids turn out better socially and emotionally in the long run. It seems to be because of the large network of support they have.
Ever since 1974 divorce officially passed death as the leading cause of breaking up families and this trend doesn’t seem to be stopping any time soon. (Mackey pg 78) Children in divorced families often feel un-wanted. The reason being is most people feel that not enough effort is put into saving their marriages. In many cases people feel that all the problems the family is facing can be handled civilly without divorce. (Zinsmeister pg 44) Also unlike how a death has the tendency to unite a family divorce rips it apart.
The parent’s anger with each other affects the way they act and feel about their children. (Kittleson pg 158) When the children notice this many start to act out and start under achieving in school. (Kittleson pg 158) Religion has a hard time helping these families because most religions are against divorce. (Whitehead pg 14) In conclusion when compared to each other it seems to clearly show that the kids in the family with death turn out better even if it’s only by a little.
Children of single-parent families face many more issues when compared to the kids in the normal plutonic family structure. The hurdles of emotional, financial and social struggles they must overcome are some things that normal kids will never have to face. A normal child will most likely never have to wake up with a pit in their stomach because of how much they miss their father. They will never come home to their parent crying because they drove by their lost spouse’s place of work. Life is all around harder and very different for these kids. So ask yourself the next time you dam your mom or dad for sending you to your room what would you do without them. Without their love, their support and their guidance, would you be able to survive?