Are Single Parent Families Dysfunctional?

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Introduction: The development of a child relies heavily on family. Family is a highly important factor that must be considered and understood when looking at the overall development of humans (Lidz 1983). Traditionally families are composed of two parental figures of the opposite sex and their biological children. The numbers of traditional two parent families have dwindled over the decades. These types of families are rapidly declining in modern society. Single parents are raising a significantly larger proportion of children. In 2007 there were approximately 13.7 million single parents in the United States. Of these, approximately 84% of mothers had custody of the children and merely 16% of custodial parents were fathers. More than half of all children worldwide spend at least a period of their childhood in a single parent led environment (Hernandez 1988), and often custody of the child belongs to the mother (Bumpass & Raley 1995). Researchers often promote that children raised in single parent families tend to be worse off than those in two parent families, they promote that there is a degree of dysfunction within these households that sees the children being treated in a manner that disrupts their emotional and cognitive development. This research, though widely supported (there is a large degree of research that supports the hypothesis that single parent families have negative effects on the outcome of children) has been shown to overlook the variability within families characterized as “single parent families” (Richards and Schmiege, 1993). This lack of focus on the variability sees the results found being unjustly generalized. The essay aims to tackle this issue by looking at a number of different studies and weighi... ... middle of paper ... ...mc/articles/PMC3074431/#!po=1.61290> 18. Webster-Stratton C, Hammond M. Maternal depression and its relationship to life stress, perceptions of child behavior problems, parenting behaviors, and child conduct problems. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology. 1988;16:299–315. 19. Wolf, Jennifer. "Single Parent Statistics." About.com Single Parents. About.com Guide, n.d. Web. 14 July 2013. . 20. "Dysfunctional Family." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 09 Dec. 2012. Web. 13 June 2013. . 21. Wise, Sarah. "Family Structure, Child Outcomes And environmental Mediators: An Overview of the Development in Diverse Families Study." Aifs.gov.au. Australian Institute of Family Studies, Jan. 2003. Web. 12 July 2013. .

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