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Athe Rise And Effect Of Single Parent Families

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The Rise and Effect of Single Parent Families

Since 1970, our society has seen a shift in the family structure with an increase in single parent families in the United States. There are growing problems, which are affecting America; among these include the rise in single parent families. Most Americans would agree that part of their concerns for the nation is poverty, crime, and declining education. Children raised in single parent families are more likely to be involved in at least one of these issues, whether it’s as a child growing up or an adult that was raised in a single parent family. This research project will analyze what are the effects of the rise in single parent families, who are the individuals involved by race, class and region, and how does this family type relate to poverty, delinquency, and education.

The United States does a census of the American population every ten years, which participation is mandatory by the U.S. constitution, so the most recent statistical information is the Census of 2000. There are approximately 198.4 million whites in America with different ethnicities of this 23.6% are unmarried mothers who have children and 8% are living under the poverty line. There are approximately 39.7 million African Americans. There are 68.2% of children who are born to unmarried black mothers, which is the highest out of all the ethnicities and 24% of blacks are living under the poverty line second highest to Native Americans of 27.2%. (United States Census Bureau, 2008) Single parent households increased from 9% in 1990 to %16 of all households by 2000. Also today 51% of marriages end in divorce. (LeBay, 2003)

“There are ethnic differences in the prevalence of single-parent families. In 1999 the rate of single-parent families among black families was 56 percent; among Hispanic families, 32 percent; and among white families, 20 percent. Higher rates of black single-parent families result from higher rates of out-of-marriage adolescent childbearing within this group and higher divorce rates among black women.” (Fletcher, 2008)

Americans have been viewing marriage differently than they did in the 1960’s and 70’s. Marriage has seemed to take on a different role, people in their 20’s marry, but then realized in their 40’s this isn’t the person they want to be with, so they divorce and move on to another relationship or marriage. Marriage has become almost like a job, the career a person has in their 20’s most likely isn’t the same career they have in their 40’s. This goes back in to our American history with the phrase: “the pursuit of happiness,” if someone is unhappy in a marriage or like a job, they just get out and finds someone or something else that makes them happy. (LeBay, 2003)

One problem that persists in the single parent community is poverty with half of single parents in the United States are living below the poverty line with many more living right on the edge of the poverty line. This is compared to 10% of married couples with children are poor, that’s a 40% difference. From this we could assume that two incomes coming in a household to support a family makes a difference, at least from a financial standpoint. In the single parent community, many mothers never remarry and the ones that do spend an average of six years being a single parent. African American mothers spend a longer time unmarried with only 33% remarrying and the average time of being single is 10 years. The length of time single parents, stay single parent affects their lifestyle and affects them financially by continuing to be in poverty longer.

Poverty is a crippling financial stress on any family. During times of poverty many single-parent families will turn to welfare. Welfare dependency is a problem that’s seen throughout America with single, usually unwed mother’s staying on welfare longer than other participants. There are 40% of the never-married mothers receiving welfare that will keep receiving benefits for 10 years or longer. Also it seems that welfare dependency is passed from one generation to the next, with evidence supporting children of single parent families are more likely to be poor than children from two parent units. It’s easy to see how this could lead to generation after generation relying on the crippling effect of dependency on welfare. (Whitehead, 1997)

Another problem that single parent families’ face are delinquent children, yes any family can turn out a delinquent child, but single parent families raise a higher percentage of delinquent children. Whether its children that are getting into crimes, drug, or alcohol use there’s generally no one there watching them. Single parents may have to work two jobs just to make ends meet. Less supervision means more time for a child to get into trouble and be mischievous, where as a two parent family can schedule opposite shifts, or one parent may be able to stay home with the children. There is evidence from recent studies that show children raised in single-parent families are more likely to have conflict within themselves and with others, leading to violations of the rules and responsibilities of the society. (Segalman & Himelson, 1998)

Education is yet another problem that single parent families have trouble managing. One reason leans on the places they can afford housing, the less money they make the poorer the neighborhood they will reside, such as an inner city. “The great educational tragedy of our time is that many American children are failing in school not because they are intellectually or physically impaired but because they are emotionally incapacitated. In schools across the nation principals report a dramatic rise in the aggressive, acting-out behavior characteristic of children, especially boys, who are living in single-parent families.” (Whitehead, 1997) Emotionally children need both parents; they need support from both sides each in a different manner. This support helps them grow, be able to focus and generally will teach them be respectful to others.

There are some solutions that may reduce single parent families, which are revised or stopped welfare system, and counseling to encourage families to stay together. These suggestions would hopefully preserve two parent families, encouraging them to come together for financial and/or supportive reasons.

A limited solution would be to have involving the welfare system being revised to encourage two parent families; instead right now they seem to support single parent families. This seems to be especially true because most of welfare dependency is predominant in the single parent



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