When I was a young college student, trying to feel my way through classes and take assignments seriously, I dutifully weighed in on an online discussion board with a few thoughts on the disadvantages children raised in single parent homes face.
I was lambasted with emotional responses, the essence of which can be summarized as, “I was raised by a single mom! I turned out just fine!” Over the years, I’ve learned such responses aren’t limited to college students. I get it. Single mothers have rough lives and do yeoman’s work, many sacrificing constantly to give the best to their children. They need all the love and support we can give.
But giving love and support doesn’t mean that we should ignore the fact that children raised with only one parent – mom or dad – face various life disadvantages.
Writing in The Wall Street Journal, [Psychoanalyst Erica] Komisar claims that “Political Correctness Is Bad for Kids,” citing a new poll in which nearly 70 percent of those with a liberal political affiliation disagree “‘that marriage is needed to create strong families.’” Those who think this way are wrong, says Komisar, noting, “It’s a shame that political correctness inhibits discussions of what’s best for children.” She lists three disadvantages which come from growing up without a father and a mother.
1. Losing the Apron Strings: Children need a balance of secure attachment and healthy separation, and the traditional two-parent structure provides it. Mothers are uniquely suited for sensitive nurturing, which helps regulate distress and is critical to early development. Fathers provide balance by teaching children to regulate their aggression and become independent. Although the mothers have the attachment part down, they don’t have a man around to help the separation process, and the kids struggle as a result.
2. Marriage Decline: Children of single parents also lack the opportunity to observe a loving relationship between two adults, and that can interfere with their ability to form relationships when they grow up. These losses can be repaired only if they are acknowledged.
3. Behavioral Issues: Traditional family structures have fostered a division of labor in which the father earns money and the mother cares for children. That balance has become more difficult even for two-parent families, but single parents have far more difficulty. Along with the emotional challenges, this can contribute to a cycle of poverty. Children in single-parent families are likelier to have emotional and behavioral problems, to drop out of school and to be poor as adults.
With tales of violence and disrespect against teachers proliferating in the last few years, it seems safe to say that the current generation wins the prize for having the most emotional and behavioral problems. Would today’s teachers have more time to spend on instruction if they didn’t have to deal with the emotional fallout from America’s broken homes?
[TBC: From the beginning, Scripture has revealed that God’s plan and desire has always been for parents to raise up their children to know and love Him and walk in His ways. Deuteronomy:6:6-7 is one example. “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”]