Blog 94. Parenting: Do You Fully Understand The Repercussions Of Becoming A Single Parent Or What It Is Like To Have No Father?
This blog is divided into 9 sections:
1) This is a difficult subject to address – but it needs to be addressed otherwise I would be failing in my duty:
There will always be certain topics that people will find hard to accept. This is one of them. However choosing to “shoot the messenger”, will only lead to further ignorance and more sadness for many.
As a relationship therapist, (also having also studied child psychology and having worked in a children’s home), I have observed many clients, for many years. My intention through my current projects is to share my knowledge and indeed my relationship knowledge, so that others can learn from what I saw – even though this might make people feel uncomfortable.
Most people however would prefer to know the truth.
And in this case – it seems that children need both parents in order to have better opportunities, so that they can be more equipped when making life choices.
Of course some of you from single parent homes will have managed to succeed and do well. But there are many others who struggle. And this struggle is often hidden and not talked about much.
However, I must make a distinction: If grandparents and other family members are able to step in and act as mentors or role models in single family situations, then this is often a good enough alternative. But if mentors are missing entirely, then issues pertaining to this blog, can arise.
2) The reality of single parent homes:
And so, over the years when couples from single parent homes come to see me – I know that for most of them their relationship clock is ticking.
Their presenting problem often has to do with intimacy issues and many don’t really understand exactly how relationships work. But how would they know, if they haven’t ever witnessed it first hand for themselves?
Parental relationships become a blueprint for a child’s relationship. And if we do not have what is called, “good internal parents” we will struggle to develop long-term relationships. Children are like sponges and they absorb everything from their parents. This is why it is so important that parents realise just how important their function as role models actually is – and that it can affect the next generation’s relationship choices and indeed their careers choices.
And what I have also witnessed is that couples from single parents backgrounds come together and for a time, things may seem to work out. But for many, issues can begin to slowly creep in and things can start becoming difficult.
Often this is because the unconscious is very powerful – and what we know we re-create.
And no matter what the couple’s relationship intentions prove to be, the unconscious can scupper these hopes very quickly. Often without realising, they can begin to push their partners away – because what they’re really used to – is a single parent home. So they either consciously or unconsciously find ways of making this happen – in order to re-create what they know.
And for some, being single can mean that they never have to share power with their partner. They ultimately have all the control, and they can then make all the decisions about parenting and so on. Relinquishing this control and sharing their world with someone else would prove very difficult indeed.
But understanding all the reasons for preferring ‘singledom’, sometimes takes a while (in therapy) as the past is investigated and patterns of behaviour are revealed.
(If you wish to know more and if you haven’t already, I suggest you to read my first 20 blogs which describe exactly how and why we choose our partners).
But how true is the need for both parents really?
3) A child needs a father in order to develop emotionally and intellectually:
New studies from Oxford University and a team at the Imperial King College, London, have found that when fathers are fully involved in their children’s lives, the children seem to produce better cognitive performance as early as three months.
The studies also show that although the role of a mother is important to a child’s cognitive development – the role of a father is equally important.
This is because men solve things differently and they often have a propensity towards encouraging risk-taking and adventure. As a result this contributes and facilitates further cognitive development.
But sadly, the role a father can and does play, has slowly been eroded and this is becoming a concern. As a result of the persistent cultural and social as well as academic biases and stereo typing of men as bad, violent, rapists and so on, has marginalised men as fathers, and it has taken away the importance of their role as fathers.
Many men feel sidelined and misunderstood. Many also feel that the value they bring to family life is not being fully appreciated.
But also, even though Western women are now more than ever before, able to financially support their families, this should not negate the value a man can play within the family unit.
And watching and observing how women and men behave allows a child to develop a relationship with both sexes as they watch their parent’s relationship develop and work through happy times, difficulties and the various issues that adult life involves.
And as I wrote earlier, as a relationship therapist it is quite evident that a parent’s relationship is an important blueprint and a model for how a child will eventually choose their own partners.
But if a parent or indeed a father is absent, what statistics and research show – is quite worrying.
I therefore urge you to read the statistics as presented in this blog, in point 8, which presents further consequences that can occur when two parents aren’t present in their child’s life.
4) Think twice before you choose a partner from a single parent home:
Yes – think twice.
But many of you may shout me down for saying this, and yes, this may be a massive generalization, and yes, I may be stepping on many people’s toes, and yes, there maybe those among you for whom this is just not true.
However, for those of you who recognize that entering any relationship is risky, and for those of you who wish to minimalize this risk – I would suggest not choosing someone from a single parent background.
They will not have witnessed how relationships work. They will probably not know or understand how couples survive arguments, how they find resolution, how they compromise or how they learn to symbolically dance within the relationship.
And so I make this statement not out of ignorance, but because this statement comes from years of client and single parent observation!
5) But also, I have seen the effects on children.
Watching children stare at their friend’s daddies, confused and often trying to work out what they did wrong so as not deserve a permanent daddy is very sad.
And unfortunately, having studied child psychology and having worked in a children’s home, some of the expressions witnessed on the children of single parent faces, is very similar to what I saw and observed on the faces of abandoned children.
And even if a single parent tries to answer their child’s questions, adults often forget that a child hasn’t fully developed sufficient language to express their emotions or pain and often feelings can run very deep. It can involve grief, loss, anger, sadness, especially if they have lost a parent through death or even divorce.
And if these feelings remain unaddressed it could cause insecurity, low self-esteem and confidence issues, and even depression especially later on in life. And as already explained, these issues can also effect a child’s relationships.
But also, these children find it hard when they have to read about other mummies and daddies in books or when they watch movies with mummies, daddies and families. And watching them stare at other fathers, couples or families, confused and trying to work out who plays what role, can be just as sad.
6) Why do some women choose to become a single parent?
These days many women are choosing to become single parents. Often this is because their body clocks are ticking and they want children.
And there are of course many other reasons too. But sometimes there is no choice.
However, few realise exactly what being a single parent really involves and how hard it actually is.
For many it puts an extra responsibility on their shoulders. For example:
- It means that they are usually the only bread-winner and if they get ill they won’t have a partner to just step in and help.
- Child care becomes a permanent issue if there is no close family to take up the slack.
- And other couples may not be quite as accepting if asked to have a single woman hanging about either on holiday or at dinner parties.
In other words, it can turn into quite a lonely life, and when a child finally leaves home there is no partner to share the parental memories with, or indeed to share an older life with, and so on.
Of course this could happen to anyone who might have lost a partner through either divorce or death. However my point being is that – choosing to become a single parent is not as easy as most think it can be.
7) And choosing to become a single parent can be seen as an attack on men:
I have observed that when men hear that a woman has chosen to become a single parent, they immediately shake their heads worrying about the child and the consequence and lack of a father figure, as well as the support that a father brings. They somehow understand this value it seems.
But also, by taking the route of In Vitro fertilization or IVF, it sends a signal to men that except their sperm – they are no longer needed and have become surplus to requirements.
I wonder how women would react if this was done to them?
But apart from being quite rude, this message is not healthy. It certainly does not help our men folk feel valued. And I wonder what any male IVF offspring will feel about this too – and how it may impact on their own masculinity?
I therefore offer up many difficult issues or indeed questions, and perhaps a few statements that may make people angry or indeed uncomfortable. But these issues need addressing not because of the parent – but because of the children.
Instead of just absorbing what I have observed, perhaps it is also important to read the worrying statistics and research done in this area:
8) Lets look at what research tells us:
There has been much research (for example as documented in this link: https://thefatherlessgeneration.wordpress.com/statistics/) to show that when a father is absent, the following occurs:
- 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes (US Dept. Of Health/Census) – 5 times the average.
- 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes – 32 times the average.
- 85% of all children who show behavior disorders come from fatherless homes – 20 times the average. (Center for Disease Control)
- 80% of rapists with anger problems come from fatherless homes –14 times the average. (Justice & Behavior, Vol 14, p. 403-26)
- 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes – 9 times the average. (National Principals Association Report)
Father Factor in Education: Fatherless children are twice as likely to drop out of school.
Father Factor in Drug and Alcohol Abuse: Researchers at Columbia University found that children living in two-parent household with a poor relationship with their father are 68% more likely to smoke, drink, or use drugs compared to all teens in two-parent households. Teens in single mother households are at a 30% higher risk than those in two-parent households.
Father Factor in Crime: A study of 109 juvenile offenders indicated that family structure significantly predicts delinquency. Adolescents, particularly boys, in single-parent families were at higher risk of status, property and person delinquencies. Moreover, students attending schools with a high proportion of children of single parents are also at risk. A study of 13,986 women in prison showed that more than half grew up without their father. Forty-two percent grew up in a single-mother household and sixteen percent lived with neither parent
Father Factor in Child Abuse: Compared to living with both parents, living in a single-parent home doubles the risk that a child will suffer physical, emotional, or educational neglect. The overall rate of child abuse and neglect in single-parent households is 27.3 children per 1,000, whereas the rate of overall maltreatment in two-parent households is 15.5 per 1,000.
Daughters of single parents without a Father: involved are 53% more likely to marry as teenagers, 711% more likely to have children as teenagers, 164% more likely to have a pre-marital birth and 92% more likely to get divorced themselves.
Adolescent girls raised in a 2 parent home with involved Fathers are significantly less likely to be sexually active than girls raised without involved Fathers.
If you click on the link provided above, there are more statistics to be read. However what I posted is a good enough sample to get my point across.
These statistics make it clear just how important the role of a father is to the well-being of a child.
This is why it is so important to choose partners wisely and to learn exactly how and why we choose our partners – so that we all can make better choices to suit our life goals.
So that the next generation of children will benefit too.
© 2018 Deidré Wallace All rights reserved.
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