In the past “Christian society,” the greatest cause of single parenting was the death of the father or mother. Back in the days of “shotgun weddings,” when it was scandalous to be an unmarried woman with a “bastard” child, an out-of-wedlock pregnancy was likely to be hidden. The child might be placed in an orphanage or raised as another person’s child. An unmarried mother could hold her head up only if the man had died or, less scandalous to some extent, if the father had abandoned the family or there had been a divorce. Nowadays in the US, however, according to Wikipedia, 40% of children are born to women who are not married. ”Married couples make up 68% of all families with children under age 18, compared to 93% in 1950.” [Wikipedia]
I was not married to my daughter’s father when she was born, and I am not married to the father of the newborn son I’m expecting within the next few days. I feel no stigma about this situation despite the fact that I’m aware of the effects on child and woman with no second parent in the home. Why do parents separate through divorce or leaving? In my case, my daughter’s father wasn’t mature enough to understand that he needed to hold a job in order to maintain a family. Some parents are mature enough to remain involved in the child’s life even if they are not physically present in the home.
In many cases, lack of money is the main reason for a parent abandoning a family. Poverty often leads to stress, fighting, sometimes violence, despair, and end of love between the couple. Poverty is not the only reason kids wind up in a single-parent situation. Plenty of parents make enough money but cannot remain in their couple relationship. One cause is infidelity. As a result of infidelity, the couple usually experiences trust issues and consequent stress that they can’t live with. The effect on the also betrayed children is often devastating.
Another cause of separation might be substance abuse. Living with an addicted or alcoholic partner can cause significant trauma and even chaos because the substance abuser will almost invariably place his/her addiction above the needs of the partner and children. Substance abuse can be a direct cause of loss of income, domestic violence, criminal activity and incarceration. Other reasons that a couple might separate are criminality, psychological problems, or even just general, gnawing incompatibility between the partners. So how does single parenthood affect children? The effects are both positive and negative.
First off all, at least in the home, the fighting stops, reducing the stress on the children as well as the parents. Conflict may continue on the phone about money, child-rearing rules, expectations and other issues, but at least there may be relative peace and quiet after the phone is hung up or the child asleep. The custodial parent will, like me, have an opportunity to bond even more closely with the children she or he lives with. A single parent also finds ways to find “village” needed to raise a child. Family members and friends might be more likely to provide the help a single parent needs than to one who already has a parenting partner.
This has certainly been the cause in my “single- parent family” where I, appreciatively, get so much help from people who are not the children’s fathers. I feel bad for the effects behind my kid’s biological father’s not being around for them, but also a sense of pride in how I’ve been managing. On the down side, children of single parents don’t have a second adult in the home to take responsibility with all the tasks, from cleaning up vomit to driving the children to activities, to cooking, helping with homework, being their protector, just plain listening and so on as they might in a typical or ideal two-parent household.
Financially, the situation is usually more difficult both for the custodial parent and the parent who pays child support when there are two households to keep up. According to the data bank of Kids Count, a project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, “Children growing up in single parent families typically do not have the same economic or human resources available as those growing up in two-parent families. Compared with children in married couple families, children raised in single-parent households are more likely to drop out of school, to have or cause a teen pregnancy and to experience a divorce in adulthood. “Additionally, “In 2012, median income for single mother families was $25,493, 31% of the $81,455 median income for two parent families.”
Looking at my daughter makes me feel strong because of how smart, happy, self-confident, and talented she is. I know it’s greatly because of the time and love and fun I’ve put into raising her, not bashing her biological father, holding down a job myself, and going to college to ensure she and the new baby have all the values, education and material things they need now and in the future. I go without things I’d like to have, especially sleep and free time, but that’s a sacrifice I gladly make to have children who are safe and happy living with me.