Single parent as a result of the death of spouse, separation or divorce can be a time of great stress to both child and parent. The literature states that single-parent families are most likely to hold an increased amount of stress than most normal families due to shared responsibilities (McLanahan 2000). As result of this parents not being able to care for their children effectively, sensitively and as consequence influencing children’s development (Holden, 2014).
A study by Rodriguez (2011) has cited that parenting stress is linked to anxiety and depressive symptoms seen in children. A research in the Netherlands cited the association between maternal parenting stress with emotional reactivity and withdrawal behaviour in children (Tharner et al., 2012).
Literature supports more parenting stress experienced by parents, resulted in internalising problems their children will display (Rodriguez, 2011; Tharner et al., 2012). Apart from the direct effects of stress on child’s development parental stress is also associated to have indirect effect too, for instance in the link between parental stress internalizing of problems in children is associated with disorganized or avoidant attachment style in children (Tharner et al., 2012) or holding negative attributes to positive life events (Rodriguez, 2011). Additionally, single parent, bear the added burden of fending for the family and looking after the interest of the child. (Wu 2009).
According to Swick & Williams (2010), this as a consequence may result is parents pay less attention towards the child and lead to a tendency of parent’s snapping at the child for the slightest provocation affecting the child psychologically as a result of abuse abuses, beatings and even serious sufferings that might be inflicted on to the children who may suffer in silence (Wang ; Benard 2004). While this view has also been supported by Furlong ;Cartmel (2007) and Deleire ; Kalil (2010) nevertheless it is critical to making note that stress may manifest itself differently for single fathers and mothers. Even though there has been an equality in the division of parental task, there still seem to be a difference in parental behaviour (Barnard ; Solchany, 2002 and Parke, 2002) and the way raise sons and daughters (Leaper, 2002). Recent research has examined the role of parent and child’s gender on parental stress.
A study was done by Scher & Sharabany (2005) the study cited that mothers tend to experience greater amounts of stress in comparison to fathers. As social support is mostly received by father as compared to mother and mother also shoulder the disadvantage of being low on socioeconomic dimension, stress and psychological well-being. (Kopera?Frye, 2007;Hilton, Desrochers, & Devall, 2001). Additionally, sons are suggestive of being affected most by parental stress in mothers than daughters. However, there was no significant difference seen in the stress leave of fathers. On the contrary study by Jackson, Preston, Franke (2010), they state that parental stress can exit even is a normal intact family even more than what can occur in single families. Thus from the study, it can be concluded that it is the parent’s reaction to stress rather than parents state.
Since single parents are stress due burden of the new role, this stress is most likely get transferred in children, as they are unable to handle psychological pressures which are a consequence of stress. This impends the child ability to perform effectively especially in school settings. A recent study by Kim (2011) that assessed the impact of single parenting on the child’s cognitive and non-cognitive aspect over 2 years period. The study concluded that children coming from single-parent household performed poorly on cognitive aspect of the test non-cognitive that measured the interpersonal relationship. An interpersonal relationship may be defined as the child’s ability to maintain and form a relationship.
What was the most interesting aspect of the study, was the fact that it was a longitudinal study that is analyses children over a period of 2 years. Perhaps the most serious disadvantage of this study was that the non-cognitive aspect of the study was assessed by different teachers over 2 years span of the study, this may result in inconsistency in the findings. The study would have been even more interesting if it had included a wider range of age group, as the study only included signal parent children who were in 1st and 3rd grade. Thus, the results cannot be generalized to the larger population such as children who are in their early childhood and adolescence. Possible reason of poor performance in school is children coming from single-parent household are likely to display serious dysfunctionalities and absent-mindedness which is psychological in nature that accounts for being absent mind in the classroom (Anderson, et al, 2008).
However, (Wu, 2009), argues this notion by citing that children coming from abusive two-parent families are likely to experience tendencies. As they are constantly living in the terror of abusive parents. Such children view themselves holding a very little option to escape for example they mothers tend to be helpless and their fathers tend to be monsters (Cavanaugh ;Fields, 2006) this may not be the case in single-parent families. A research conducted by Zastrow ;Karen (2009), stated that children coming from single household be performing poorly in the classroom than children coming from intact family, however the most interesting finding of the study was that , children performance is worse soon after the separation and once the child recovers from the loss or separation of the other parent that is they mentally accept the reality when clearly explained to them the child’s performance improves (Wang & Benard, 2004).
Single parent families hold a high risk of financial difficulties which can impact the child psychological well-being (Stack & Meredith,2018). In single parent family, especially in the case of death of a spouse or unwanted pregnancy, the source of income may just be one individual, this may lead to deprivation when the child doesn’t receive what they need(Melchior et al., 2009). There has been a considerable amount of literature that has associated childhood poverty to unfavourable results in adulthood, for instance, poor health, economic hardship, and behavioural concerns (Anderson ; Moore et al, 2009).
Childhood poverty holds deleterious effects on child development, for example, low-income single parent family are unable to provide the child with stimulating behaviours which are important for the child’s cognitive growth. A study by Votruba?Drzal, (2003) concluded that household income was positively related to lower cognitive stimulating behaviour. As single parent family may be low on the economic fund which means that they hold limited resources to from basic needs such as food shelter and clothing. Thus leaving the parent with limited resources to provide their child with learning material that may be enriching and enhance their cognitive experience Votruba?Drzal, (2003).
Apart from these children coming from low-income single parent family are at the increased risk of leaving school without graduating. In addition children coming from low income single parent families tend to limited linguistic environment as their environment is overshadowed by commands and sentence of simple structure, rather than providing explanation and elaboration which is essential for the child’s language development, for example, A recent study Frenald, Manrchman ; Weisleder, (2013) the study compared children from high and low social economic status on language processing. Where the study indicated an imbalance in language processing seen in the two children coming from two different social economic strata.
Which was evident in children as early as 18 months of age. Which suggest that experiential factors account for language development as affluent families may use more child-directed speech which may influence the infants’ language processing thus linking social economic status to difference acquisition. Another study that accessed whether the amount of speech directed toward infants(Spanish-speaking) from low socioeconomic status had an impact on child’s language processing and vocabulary learning. The study concluded that low child-directed speech in low-SES Spanish-speaking families influenced the child ‘s later vocabulary development (Weisleder & Fernald, 2013).
Lastly, poverty in childhood due to single parenting is associated with altered structure and function of brain regions involved in stress and self?regulation (get a study). Poverty in a single-parent household is Deprivation in childhood due to Childhood deprivation has been related hippocampal volume being compromised, alleviated respond to negative stimulant by amygdala responses, change in the configuration (reduced volume) and active of the prefrontal cortical (PFC), and disrupted connectivity between the PFC and amygdala. (Hackman et al., 2010; McEwen & Gianaros, 2010). From the above finding we can conclude that children coming from household that has persistence economic difficulties that result in poor cognitive growth and it is not family instability that accounts for it. Highlight the fact it is poverty that accompanies single parenting that affected that child than family structure.