Children of Single Parents at Disadvantage

The conservative think-tank Alabama Policy Institute has studied single parent families and doesn’t like what it sees. In its just-released study Family Matters – Family Structure and Child Outcomes, API finds that “children in non-intact families are at an educational and social disadvantage comjpared to children in traditional families.”

The report states that parents in single-parent families are less likely to hiave high expectations for their children and less likely to participate in school activities like volunteering at school and attending parent-teacher conferences.

The report implies that single-parents can employ some specific strategies to mediate the impact of the family structure on their child’s success. These strategies would include:

  • Continuing to hold and articulate high expectations for the performance of the child in school and in extracurricular activities
  • Volunteering in school (serving as room parent, accompanying classes on field trips, helping in the library, etc.)
  • Attending PTA meetings and parent-teacher conferences
  • Perhaps the most important strategy, however, would be avoiding cohabitating. The study found that cohabitating relationships and foster care were particularly damaging to children’s success in school.

    3 comments

    1. More re-enforcement of the fact that children need both biological parents especially
      after divorce. Now if family and domestic relations courts would take the blinders off
      and acknowledge the obvious and stop their anti-father practices and focus on what is best
      for children, I believe this situation can be greatly improved.

    2. Collin Scott says:

      My former husband and I divorced three years ago after 19 years of marriage. We were adultenough to acknowledge that our children’s needs had to be considered first. We worked at this arrangement, and enjoyed the benefites of a successful model for our children post-divorce. He died two weeks ago of a massive heart attack at 45 years old. Gone too soon, I am atleast grateful for the time we shared raising our boys. It will be difficult to go on without him as a parenting partner. I take comfort in the fact that our legacy of co-operation will stay with our sons as they grow up. At 10 and 15 years of age, losing your dad is a terrible thing, but knowing that your parents had worked things out, and both loved you and cared for you equally, and that you’ll be safe even if only one parent remains must be of some comfort.
      I am on good terms with his wife of three years, and the boys see the model of care and comfort we provide each other during this time of loss. They benefit from our careful grieving and comfort of them in their grief.
      I think it’s up to the divorcing adults to set the tone of their situation. It’s not the courts that are bad, it’s the attitudes of indifference to the needs of the children, and the focus on our own anger and pain that make for the difficulties. Some folks are just plain worthless, but for the rest of us who are good people who just aren’t good together we need to put our children’s needs ahead of our own and develop the best win-win plan we can for their lives and ours after divorce. That’s my two cents worth!

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