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There are many reasons leading to one-parent households. They include death of a spouse, premarital pregnancy, separation, and divorce. The emergence of the modern society brought with it an increased incidence of one-parent households. This is attributable to women having opportunities to earn competitive income brought about by advocacy leading to increased opportunities for education and training for them. In traditional societies, a woman had to depend on a man to have access to resources. This has destabilized the traditional family model. The effects on the children raised in these kinds of family fall into two broad categories. There are positive effects and negative effects.
The positive effects of raising a child in a single parent family include development of a stronger parent-child bond, community upbringing, and development of a stronger sense of responsibility. Development of a strong parent-child bond occurs more in single mother households because mothers tend to express their love for their children more, as compared to single fathers. This may be because, "Many parents today were raised in a generation that believed a father shouldn't show his love to his children" (Fantle, Shimberg, Shimberg & Grenny, 2007). Mothers tell their children that they love them, and shower them with hugs and kisses. This produces a sense of security in them. In both situations, the parent concentrates relational energy to the children since they do not have a spouse with whom to relate.
The children get the all attention a spouse would have otherwise taken. The next benefit to a child raised in a single parent home is opportunity for community upbringing. There is a greater chance of support from the community if the head of the family is a single mother. Single mothers tend to attract more support from the community than single fathers do, and they more often need it. As Hetherington and Arasteh (1988) report, "parents are not the only adults in the home available to provide child care" Thirdly, children brought up by a single parent develop a stronger sense of responsibility since their parents actually need their support to keep the home running. This is in contrast to two-parent families, which give out chores on token basis. The children do not feel the necessity of their input to the same extent that children from single parent families do.
There are a number of negative effects on children raised by single parents. These include a higher death rate, depression, involvement in violent crime and drug abuse. Others are lesser parental attention and greater probability of a porverty-laden upbringing. The death rate among children raised by a single parent is higher than that of those raised by two parents. This starts from infancy all the way into adulthood. At an early age, the children lack proper medical attention and as they grow, they are susceptible to diseases and infections. As they grow, the children tend to suffer from depression and mental disorders especially if the cause of the single parenthood in their family is divorce.
They have a higher chance of getting involved in violent crime such as robbery and rape, and tend to be involved in the use of drugs. These children have a higher statistical representation among persons convicted of involvement in violent crime. Single parent families have a greater incidence of poverty with single mother families suffering more because men generally earn more money than women do. However, both kinds of families tend to be poorer than two-parent families because of a single income. Another negative effect on children comes about because of parents committing much time to make ends meet. The children tend to receive lesser parental attention in the process. The lower income levels in single parent families affect the quality of education the children receive and may affect the level of education they attain.
While there are some benefits associated with single parent upbringing, there are some serious drawbacks. It is important to note that these incidents are increasing as the society progresses. The need to mitigate these effects grows daily. As Hunter (2010) observes, "parenting is huge job that requires many questions".