Single parenthood is becoming an increasingly prevalent phenomenon in the western hemisphere, especially in the United States and European Union. This social trend began in the 1970s along with social liberation (Cashmore, 2014). Some people consider the growing single-parent family rate is an acute societal issue and a sign of a profound crisis in Western society (Cashmore, 2014). Others see it as a positive change and a new social institution. It is essential to clarify what single parent means for further discussion. According to Cashmore (2014), a single parent is the natural one who raises the child or children single-handedly. The other parent disappears from the family unit due to various reasons. Factors that influence whether a person becomes a single parent are educational level, regional legislation, social status, and economic opportunities. Children raised in single-parent families exhibit both extremely positive and negative behavior patterns. Most single parents are women; almost all of them experience significant work-life imbalances (Cashmore, 2014). A single parenthood setup is challenging and dramatically affects the emotional and psychological upbringing of a child.
Negative Impact of Single Parenthood
The behavioral characteristics and unique emotional features of children raised in single-parent families are one of the major topics of research for family psychologists. Honeycutt (2018) notes that “there has been a growing interest from family psychologist in finding out the characteristics displayed by children for single family set up compared to dual family set ups” (p. 32). The children’s single parenthood background is associated with negative socioeconomic phenomena such as poverty, deviant behavior in schoolchildren, dropouts, and performance problems at work in adulthood.
Negative Impact of Single Parenthood
As noted above, children from single parenthood exhibit two behavioral extremes, socially approved and asocial. Simply put, the single-parent family background also has a positive influence on children. Research shows that some of them have ended up succeeding in their future endeavors compared to the rest, who face a myriad of challenges, especially in their teenage years (Everett, 2018). It means that some children raised in single parenthood are more self-sufficient and have developed emotional endurance in contrast with other members of their social group and children from two-parent families.
Interconnections of Male Gender, Single Parenthood, and Behavior
The gender of a child with a single-parent background is also a determining factor of their behavior. According to Silton (2017), “psychologists have recorded significant differences between boys and girls brought up in single family backgrounds, and each of them tends to showcase different characters in their development…” (p. 43). For example, boys of one-parent families tend to be more aggressive than their peers (Usakli, 2018). Family psychologists and researchers should consider sociobiological factors together.
Interconnections of Female Gender, Single Parenthood, and Behavior
Girls raised by a single parent also have distinctive behavioral characteristics. Usakli (2018) notes that female children from one-parent families are more submissive than their school environment. It can be concluded that there is a different kind of socialization that occurs on each gender; therefore, each gender is bound to display specific characteristics that are unique to them. Studying their uniqueness helps psychology specialists in particular and society, in general, understand the phenomena of children of single parenthood better.
The Role of Age in Development, Socialization of Children of Single Parenthood
Age is also a substantial psychological influencer that one must take into account in the study of the behavior of children from single-parent families. According to Cashmore (2014), “depending on the children’s age, children growing up within single parent backgrounds tend to present varying and extreme behavioral characteristics due to their socialization” (p. 18). Children at an early age are more emotionally susceptible, so adverse events affect their behavior and socialization more heavily.
The Relationship of Age and Parents’ Separation in Development, Socialization of Children
Divorce can be either a good or a terrible event, depending on the circumstances. Parental divorce is one of the turning points in the behavioral development and socialization of children. It is the moment when the help of a family psychologist is most needed to minimize psychological damage. Children at a younger age who go through family breakups leading to single families tend to be adversely affected due to their emotional and psychological naiveness. As a result of that, they tend to portray adverse effects compared to children undergoing separation in their teenage years.
Children growing up in single-family backgrounds tend to be emotionally and psychologically affected dramatically depending on their unique characteristics, such as gender and surrounding circumstances facing them, like the time of the parent’s separation. It follows logically that there is the likelihood of such children turning out to be deviant due to the lack of moral support from both of their parents as well as the emotional vacuum within them. Such children also tend to find it challenging to create family bonding. Moreover, when they become adults, they have a high probability of forming emotionally numb families, thereby continuing the single parenthood cycle to the next generations.
Cashmore, E. (2014). Having to (Routledge revivals): The world of one parent families. Routledge.
Everett, C. (2018). Divorce and the next generation: Perspectives for young adults in the new millennium. Routledge.
Honeycutt, J. (2018). Communication diversity in families. Cognella Academic Publishing.
Silton, N. R. (Ed.). (2017). Family dynamics and romantic relationships in a changing society. IGI Global.
Usakli, H. (2018). Behavioral tendencies of single parent students. International Journal of Science Annals, 1(1-2), 21-27.