The Child Raised by a Single Parent

The Child Raised by a Single Parent

  Autor Psih. Ioana Laura Pelcaru Data: 09.02.2007

The Child Raised by a Single Parent
Over time there have been many controversies on the family influence on the child's development. Some specialists consider that parents do not have a primary role in the shaping of the child's personality, while others believe that the family environment is defining. Regarding this, there have been and still are discussions on the negative influences the single parent family (or the absence of it) has or not on the child. 

If in the past, the single parent family (with only one parent) was considered with reservations, nowadays the specialists and not only, state that it is preferable for a child to grow with only one parent than in a family which is apparently united and it always deals with fights and marriage discussions. Although there is no categorical conclusion regarding the effects of a disorganized family on the children, it is impossible to fight some difficulties which occur in such cases. 

In the actual society, we are more and more talking about the removal of differences between men and women but it is unlikely to remove the differences between the mother's and the father's role. 
  • The divorce, the abandoning of the home by one parent who mostly is the father, the proper separation of the parents, the adoption made by a single person, the death or birth of a illegitimate child are situations when the child must adapt to a smaller family environment which barely replaces the previous one. 
  • The raising and the development of a child in such an environment, often leaves deep marks on his mental evolution, and the absence of a parent is felt at high levels. 
  • If in case of a complete family, the responsibilities are divided between the two parents and complement, the single parent must assume a double role, trying to substitute the absence of the other one, thus affecting the fulfillment of his own duties. 
  • The single father diminished from his authority, becomes more protective and caring, gives more attention to the aspects related to the education rather than to disciplinary ones. Most times, in order to substitute the mother's absence, he resorts to different people outside the family for help: grandmothers, aunts, etc. in case of daughters raised in this way, they become masters and mothers of the house, thus assuming duties which are a little too much for a young person. They will be the ones caring for the little brothers, they do the cleaning, the cooking, they offer emotional support to their father. 
  • Most times, it happens for the young person to lose the role of a protected person and to become the partner, the confident and the moral support of the parent. He is subject to a growing up that he is not ready for and which might affect his development in a severe way. 
  • The conflicts that will occur in the single parent family tend to imitate the old marriage conflicts: you act like your father, you act like your mother, etc. the child is pressured to take the role of the absent parent, but at the same time he is punished because he behaves like the ex-husband. 
  • In case of single mothers, the most often problem is the financial one. Trying to substitute the incomes which would have been brought by the father, the mother gets to overburden herself and thus she cannot offer the necessary emotional support to the child. Also, trying to have at least a little of the authority the father has, she reduces the affection gestures, thus depriving the child of the maternal warmth. 
  • The single parent often feels helpless- I cannot do it anymore, I don't know what to do for him not to feel he does not have both parents close to him- 
  • The researches showed that those children who live in a disorganized environment more often deal with social life problems, to educational problems and even to health issues. 
  • The lack of one parent has negative influences starting with the lack of affectivity and up to affecting the socialization and the integration in the society. 
  • The probability to identify a case of abandon/ failure at school or even the delinquency is higher in this situation. 
  • The young people raised by a single parent have more chances to form a family which resembles the one they were raised in. 
  • Children who take part at their parents separation, are affected by many mental and relational issues. The manner in which they are affected depends on the age, the gender, the family environment before separation, the relationship with each parent and with brothers, the presence or lack of emotional support. The most affected are the children who go through this at young ages, under 6. they tend to become more dependent, more disobedient, more aggressive, less affectionate than those who grow up in a complete family. Their entire development is upside down. 
  • If the family rupture occurs around the age of 6-8 years old, there will be much sadness, frustration, confusion, anxiety, looking for the contact with the absent parent. Boys are the most vulnerable in this period, and they might have school failures and difficulties of school integration. As time goes by, the separation of their parents is considered with more and more sobriety, but the experience leaves deepmarks: threat and anxiety feelings, deception, moral indignation, contempt, shame. 
  • At ten-fifteen years after divorce, there is a sleeper effect: the children of both genders have relational issues, they live with a feeling of anxiety and guilt, they expect attitudes of rejection from their partners and they often break the relationships with people of opposite gender. 
  • Other researches show that the effects of growing up with a single parent are relative. Not all the people deal with this situation in the same way. The financial and cultural resources of the single parent, the way in which they are used are different from case to case. The relation between the school failure in children and the single parent family depends on the financial situation of the family and on the cultural level. 
  • The most affected are the children with parents who separated in a conflict circumstance. As a conclusion, the single parent family should not be discussed here but the specific social situation of the respective families. 
There are opinions who state that the traditional family is not so important for a child's evolution. Obviously, it is preferable for a child to be raised by a single parent rather than in a family with conflicts and violence which might affect him for the rest of his life. Also, even after the divorce, it is recommended for both parents to be present in their children life, although there is no chance of reconciliation between the parents. This way, both the mother and the father will be able to assume the own responsibilities so that the child will not feel deprived of their affection, attention and interest. 

Read the English version of this article: The Child Raised by a Single Parent