Thursday

Single Mothers, Absent Fathers, Pirates, Global Warming and All in Between, the third

And so I'm still thinking, when controlling for income and racial "issues," how can single motherhood still be all that bad?

If you have a two-parent, mother-father household, then there should be more monetary and emotional psychological resources, simple by the mere addition of another person, not necessarily a "father." But does double the parents equal double everything?

I'm thinking of this: If mother and father are in a relationship with a child present, then, technically, the time is now divided between the partner, and the child. And I thought I remembered somewhere in the Bible it saying something about putting your spouse first (meaning, before the children). So, now the child gets less time from each parent, but more time from them combined (all things being "equal").

Well, that's great and all, but this is assuming that the dual parent relationship is all gravy. On the flip side, do the children of single mothers not have any interaction with any other individual (with whom they can have a parental-type relationship)?

In Children of Single Mothers: How Do They Really Fare?, the author points out the following (emphasis mine):
...national substance abuse survey, based on 22,000 adolescents, found more substance abuse among the children of single mothers than among the children of two biological parents. But, considering the rhetoric about single parenting, I was struck by how few of the children of single mothers had substance problems - 5.7% -- and how similar the number was for the children of two biological parents - 4.5%. A difference of about one percentage point is not a very big return on twice the love, attention, and resources.

...It's not that two was a magical number of parents - on the average, the kids did better living with a single mom than they did with a dad who was married to a stepmother. The best living arrangement of all (with regard to substance abuse) included three adults - typically, mom, dad, and a grandparent.

What about grades? Relationships with siblings and friends? There's research on those questions, too. In a nationally representative sample of many different kinds of households - two-parent biological households, single-mother households, adoptive households, stepmother, and stepfather households - there were no differences at all. What mattered was NOT how many parents there were, or whether the parents were biologically related to the children. Instead, whether children had problems with their grades or with their siblings or friends depended on whether there was a lot of conflict within families, high levels of disagreements between parents, or endless arguments between parents and kids.

Sometimes children of single parents do better than children of married parents. For example, a study of hundreds of 10- to 14-year olds and their parents showed that in their day-to-day lives, single parents were friendlier to their children than were married parents. The children of single parents also spent more time with people in their extended families than did the children of married parents.
and from It Takes a Single Person to Create a Village (same author)
a study about single parenting and reading performance published in the Journal of Marriage and Family. The author, Hyunjoon Park, compared the reading scores of 15-year olds in single-parent vs 2 biological parent households, in five Asian countries. In only one of them, Japan, did the children in 2-parent families read significantly better than the children in single-parent families. In fact, in two of the countries, Thailand and Indonesia, the children from single-parent households were actually BETTER readers than the children from 2-parent households.


I know, I know, some of you may say, apples and oranges. But if you look critically, can an absent father, in and of itself, be all that much of a problem? If we take a biological father, and inject him into the single mother household, will everything be fixed?

Can we now get past all of this simplistic thinking? Or are we still looking for those pirates?