Family life is much different today than what it used to be. Several years ago mothers would stay at home with their children while the father went to work to support his family, but it is nothing like that today in American households.
Today it is common for children to be raised by just one of their parents, and those children are often disadvantaged in several ways. The most consistent finding from studies of family structure shows that single parents exert weaker controls and make fewer demands on their children than married families do (Curtin et al. 368). There is a real easy explanation for this problem, it is the simple fact that two parents together make more rules and are more likely to stick by those rules than single parents are (Curtin et al. 368).
Single parents are not able to show the same emotions as married couples can, because the love between a mother and a father plays an important part in a family. Children learn how to love from their parents, but if both parents are not there to teach them how to love, their love might be somewhat one-sided (Curtin et al. 371). Yes, single parents can show their love toward their children, but they have no spouse to express love to. Children from single parent families are therefore denied that learning experience of how a husband and a wife should love one another (Curtin et al. 369).
Relationships are another thing that everyone needs, especially children. Children need a real strong relationship between themselves and their parents, but children from single parent families are usually denied this privilege because they are separated from one of their parents and often do not get to spend adequate time with the other. Children who have a strong relationship with their parents are more likely to respect the authority of their parents (Curtin et al. 370). The problem with single parent is the fact that usually the single parent does not have the time to help the child develop a close relationship with them. Another problem is how a child can build a strong relationship with a parent they do not live with and often do not see on a regular basis. The simple fact is that children need both of their parents in the household to build a close relationship with and to teach them to respect the parent’s authority. True, not all children from two parent households have close relationships with their parents, but it is much more likely.
Gender also plays an important role in families. Men and women have very different characteristics, both emotionally and physically. These different characteristics contribute to their roles as mothers and fathers (Curtin et al. 369). For instance, men are normally much stronger physically than women, and are therefore able to do many things around the house that a woman cannot. Women are much more likely to do the everyday household chores while the man does the heavy duty work. Women usually tend more to the children when they need things than do the men, and also help them more with emotional type problems (Curtin et al. 369). So it is easy to see why having both parents in the household makes a much more well-rounded family atmosphere.
When both parents are not in the household children after experience a great deal of stress from different aspects of their lives. This stress often comes from children who are forced into independence and self-reliance before they are mature enough to cope (“Children” 58). Many single parents leave their children at home or send them to low quality day cares centers while they are at work, causing stress on the children (“Children” 60). Yes, two parent families often leave their children at home or send them to low quality day cares, but studies show that it is ten times more likely to happen in single parent families (“Children” 59).
Another time which brings a great deal of stress to single parent homes is the holidays. The holidays are a time when families should be together. Single parents may not be able to provide this for their children (“Holidays” 3). Another problem that arises during the holidays is that of gift competition between the parents (“Holidays” 3). The problem with the parents competing over who gets the best gift is the fact that the children often feel as if the parents want to but their love instead of earning it by showing them love.
Children of single parent homes also face stress by always worrying about everything that is going on in their lives. According to Richard Kinsey single parent children worried more about school, family, future, finding work, crime, and their environment by a large margin (16). However, the biggest worry of these children was about their own personal loves and what was going to happen to them as they grew up (Kinsey 16).
Richard Kinsey also did a survey on crimes committed by children in both two parent homes and single parent homes. He found that children in two parent homes self-reported committing crimes at a rate of 59%, but children from single parent homes self-reported committing crimes at a rate of 74% (16). This survey gives a strong emphasis of how important the respect of authority if for children. It also showed how children form single parent homes are more likely to commit crimes than the children from two parent homes.
Single parent homes not only reflect or cause stress upon children, but also upon the parent. Single mothers especially feel stress when a father figure is not present (Allen et al. 390). According to the survey done by Katherine Allen and Peggy Quinn, seventy percent of the single mothers reported that they always worried about money (390). Not only was money a big issue, but also time and energy (392). These single mothers are put under pressure from about every aspect of their lives, and without a husband there to help raise a family, pay the bills, and to show them love, the single mother must nearly feel hopeless.
Another big stress for single mothers is the fact that now they have the responsibility of two parents (Allen et al. 392). One woman describes how she felt: “And on the weekends then, mow the yard, and clean the house, and wash the clothes. When you get done doing that, its Monday all over again” (Allen et al. 392). Most parents form two parent homes realize the responsibility they have and the stress that they face with a spouse there to support them, but just imagine that spouse not being there to help support and help with the responsibilities of the family and that is exactly what it is like to be a single parent.
Now we have seen the pressures that single mothers face, but what about single fathers because there are many of them in the world today. One example can be found in the article ” A Singular Experience,” by Brad Andrews. Andrews himself is a single father and he discusses the overwhelming responsibilities of being a single father (8). He now has to do all of the household chores and take care of the children all by himself. He can no longer play catch with his son after dinner because now he has to do the dishes (8). These single parent situations create instability and do not provide a positive environment for children to grow up in. Both a father and a mother are needed to create a stable environment and a positive place from children to live.
Another example is the article “Single Fathers With Custody” by Alfred DeMaris and Geoffrey Grief. DeMaris and Grief explain the fact that single fathers experience the same worries and overwhelming responsibilities that single mothers do. Fathers face financial worries, pressures from work, and pressure of time for himself and his children (DeMaris et al. 260).
The simple fact is that being a single parent is a very difficult task, whether it is a single father or a single mother. A family consists of a father and a mother with their children, not just one parent. Single parent homes create a lot of stress and worries on the parent as well as the children, and the stress and worries are not needed by either. After all, it takes two to make a child; it should take two to raise a child.