The mid-to-late twentieth century was a time of growing divorce rates, associated, on the one hand, with the feminist movement and women’s gaining greater independence, and on the other hand, with many financial and labor market crises. For most families, the reason for divorce is either financial difficulties or an inability to improve marital relations and make compromises. Most often, after a divorce, the parent with whom the child remains has problems finding a new partner and faces material problems. Therefore, children most often fall victim to divorce, both emotionally and materially. This paper argues that children from one-parent families face detrimental effects on well-being, future career opportunities, and psychological and physical health and identifies a need for governmental practices that will ensure at least some acceptable level of the well-being of children living in single-parent families.
Higher Mobility Levels in Single Parent Children
Noteworthy, children from one-parent families have higher levels of mobility when they become adults. In particular, Bloome (541) says that “difficulties maintaining middle-class incomes create downward mobility among people raised outside stable two-parent homes; regardless of parental income, these people are relatively likely to become low-income adults, reflecting a new form of perverse equality.” The scientist implies that children who grew up in families with two parents and children raised by one parent demonstrate a difference in how they cope with life’s difficulties. Bloome (541) emphasizes that despite the higher level of mobility among children from a single-parent household, this is a harmful type of mobility when such children tend to move to lower-paying jobs with a lower level of responsibility and have problems maintaining the middle-class income level.
In other words, children from single-parent households are less emotionally stable and assertive and also have trouble taking responsibility and achieving goals. It can be assumed that the reason is the lack of the fathers ‘presence in children’s lives, since most often, after a divorce, mothers bring up children. At the same time, statistics show that a large percentage of women after divorce do not marry again during the time until their children reach adulthood. Another critical factor that may underlie the mobility of the behavior of children who grew up in single-parent households is the habit of financial instability. Therefore, such children may be simply using familiar models in their lives. One way or another, these research results demonstrate that living with one parent creates additional problems for the child, which should be addressed through particular governmental or non-governmental supportive programs.
Psychological and Physical Health
Life outside the two-parent household also has substantial adverse impacts on children’s psychological and physical well-being. Mohsenpour et al. (269) state that there are differences in “the emotional, behavioral characteristics among single-parent children caused by divorce with ordinary children.” The scientists also found some variety in single-mother and single-father parenting influences with better emotional outcomes for the children raised by single mothers. The scientists present the research held with the help of teachers through the Improving Student Motivation questionnaires, where the emotional behavior of children from two-parent and single-parent families was evaluated. The results showed that the students from single-parent families showed higher emotional behavior deviations than the children from two-parent households.
These findings support the suggestion that divorce has negative consequences for children and psychological health. It is known that problems with emotional well-being can lead to problems with academic performance and motivation, as suggested by the presented research. Therefore, psychological issues are likely to have implications for academic success and as a consequence for future career opportunities. Consequently, teachers must continue to implement programs improving student motivation effectively because such programs have proven effective in motivating students to graduate from higher school and enter colleges. Psychological work with children in the right place and at the right time leads to tremendous changes for their future and improves the prospects for the well-being of society as a whole.
Children’s physical health can also be targeted by divorce and single parenting. Durianchik and Goff (1) say that “overall, the studies found higher BMIs and obesogenic behaviors in children of single-parent households.” The scientists also mention that there are particular reasons for such a tendency, including that single-parent households have higher time demands and lack of shared household responsibilities, as a result of which a “reduction of homemade meals, shared family meals, and physical activity can occur “(Durianchik and Goff, 1). Living transitions and lower incomes are named as additional reasons for adverse health effects. The presented research results support the assumption that children who live outside two-parent households have more prerequisites for health problems than children brought up in two-parent families.
How the Presented Issue should be Addressed
Given the arguments presented above, it is clear that such adverse effects affect the present and future of children who do not live with two parents. The state should create programs that will regulate the level of children’s physical, emotional, and social well-being in single-parent families. Kovaček-Stanić (341) says that “family law financially protects the child in a single-parent family using different legal measures.” Scientists present several examples of legislation aimed at ensuring the well-being of children after divorce, adopted in European countries. Such laws protect children’s right to housing when, after a divorce, a home remains available for the child and the parent who is raising the child.
These laws are similar and universal; they exist in countries such as England, France, Italy, Austria, and Greece. This approach is reasonable, as it helps to solve at least part of the material problems of a family with one parent. It is imperative given that material problems often lead to emotional issues and social isolation among children. Other laws oblige a parent who leaves the family to provide for the child financially, creating for him a standard of living no less prosperous than that of the parent himself.
Teachers and the education system should also help children who are being raised in single-parent households. Er and Bartan (1) says that “the parent left and the child should be supported psychologically, the preschool teachers should be trained about dealing with these behavioral problems, divorce schools should be established, and mobile guidance services should be put into practice.” Scientists imply that if society takes responsibility for these children, their socialization can be improved dramatically. Therefore, the education system is a key partner and helper for parents who raise their children alone.
Of course, many people may have different opinions about whether there is a need to pay extra attention to children growing up in single-parent households. There are many prejudices in society about any issue, and the well-being of children is no exception. One of the most common prejudices is blaming parents who decide to divorce and negative attitudes about “the problems they create for their children.” However, divorce is often the only healthy solution, and children who live with parents in toxic relationships may experience even more significant problems. In addition, children should not be responsible and the burden of the life difficulties of their parents, since they cannot cope with this burden.
Therefore, society should treat such situations with understanding, given that most people are ready to defend the right of women and men to freely choose their partners and understand that sometimes people are mistaken in their feelings or joint plans. Teachers should be especially ethical, not create additional problems for such children, and keep them motivated to achieve academic success. In addition, the state must implement laws that will protect the material rights and interests of children, such as the right to safe housing and an acceptable standard of living.
Thus, it was argued that children from one-parent families face detrimental effects on well-being, future career opportunities, and psychological and physical health. The need for governmental practices that will ensure at least some acceptable level of well-being for children living in single-parent families was also discussed. Modern society can and should provide support for children who find themselves in difficult life circumstances. Often, an ambiguous family situation may not look as complex and burdensome from the outside as it really is. Therefore, teachers must psychologically support children who live in single-parent families, and the state must protect their material interests.
Bloome, Deirdre. “Childhood family structure and intergenerational income mobility in the United States.” Demography 54.2 (2017): 541-569.
Duriancik, David M., and Courtney R. Goff. “Children of single-parent households are at a higher risk of obesity: A systematic review.” Journal of Child Health Care 23.3 (2019): 358-369.
Er, Hasan, and Murat Bartan. “Investigating the opinions and the implementations of preschool teachers towards the children of single-parent families.” (2019): 1-10.
Kovaček-Stanić, Gordana. “Child in a single-parent family: maintenance and family home.” Collected Papers, 42.1 (2018): 341-358.
Mohsenpour, Mohammadreza, Robab Rahmati, and Mahmoud Meidani. “Comparison of the emotional, behavioral characteristics of single-parent children due to divorce with ordinary children.” International Journal of Pharmaceutical Research 10.1 (2018): 1-13.