Children of Single Moms Are Worse Off

hand holdingStatistically speaking, the best thing you can do for your kids is to get married before you have them -- and stay married once you do. Study after study shows that while the majority of kids from single-parent households turn out just fine, they are more than twice as likely to suffer serious, negative outcomes.

Psychologist (and author of For Better or For Worse, a guidebook on divorce) E. Mavis Hetherington found that "twenty-five percent of youths from divorced families in comparison to 10 percent from non-divorced families did have serious social, emotional, or psychological problems."

Study after study has shown that kids do best when raised with a married mother and father. They go to jail less often, they get knocked up as teenagers more infrequently, and are less likely to be depressed, do drugs, or generally engage in delinquent behavior. This is all after adjusting for differences in parental income, education, and ethnicity.

So what’s the deal? Bradford Wilcox suggests that it has to do with time. Single parents have less time. They go from work to helping with homework, shuttling kids to and from places, making dinner, etc., and they do it by themselves. There is no extra pair of hands or eyes to help raise those kiddos on a day-to-day basis.

There have been days when passing off the parenting baton to my husband has saved my sanity. Also wine, but that’s probably a subject for another day. Those breaks to settle my hyped up 'Oh God, why did I have children?' emotions has helped me to be a better, more rational mom. Without another parent in the home, how do single parents manage? 

Hope is not lost. I think the key here, as in most challenges, is simply knowing what you’re up against. There’s not going to be a partner there at the end of the day to tuck the kids in and rub your feet, so develop routines and habits that keep things streamlined. Latchkey kids? Have a friend make occasional unexpected drop-ins so the kids won’t be tempted to misbehave too badly under the lack of parental supervision. Arrange carpools so you don’t have to drive both ways, every time.

Learn to appreciate the little things too … like not having to wash stinky man-socks, or never having to share the remote.

Kids from single-parent homes can and do turn out just fine. Just because you’re not married doesn’t mean you can’t be an awesome parent or raise awesome kids. It just means that you’re going to have some difficult challenges to overcome that your married counterparts probably won’t have to deal with.

At least there’s less laundry to put away.


Image via Fifth World Art/Flickr

feminism, childcare, divorce


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Saphr... SaphronScribble

Wow, could you BE more smug and condescending?

1. What about same sex couples - TWO Parents raising children which by YOUR argument is automatically better. Yet I notice you are very specific in saying man and women, as opposed to PARTNERS

2. What about if your paretner/spouse is abusive, an alcoholic, drug addict, comulsive gambler, etc. - in which case you're probably better off without them. And yet you fail to even nod to that possibility.

3. Stop pushing your htero-normative worldview, no one's buying it Jenny. Ugh.

aReal... aRealteenMother

...this is stupid. I would say the emotional trauma from the divorce and/or whatever caused the divorce is what is "wrong" with kids of single PARENTS.

nonmember avatar Reader

Jenny, you've really opened the flood gates with this one.

Maxim... MaximumAsh

So its better to stay married to someone you no longer are in love with and fight with and be miserable and have your children witness everything rather than just splitting up and doing things solo? Riiiiight. *eyeroll*

bills... billsfan1104

Thank you Jenny. I am living this now. Although my daughter is great, she would of done better with another parent in her life. Instead she sought out love that she didnt get from her father, and now she is living with her boyfriends parents. I blame myself and not having someone else to help me. Now with my younger daughter, her father is there to back me up and take control. I think that I am going to have a better chance with her.

Pinst... Pinstripes4

I see Jenny's point. I think we can all agree that single parenthood isn't what we should aspire to. Kids after a stable loving marriage is established (same sex or not) are preferable. But single parents are going to happen. Staying together for the sake of the kids even though the marriage has fallen apart is not actually doing them favors. Children are far more intuitive than we give them credit far and some parents end up being better parents and people apart from each other than together.

Furthermore, even though there is a correlation between children of divorces and these problems, they are not necessarily causally related. The poor marriage that proceeded it might play a huge factor as well. Plus, you can't make anyone get married before sex, or give up their baby for adoption into a two-parent home. It's a very nuanced issue.

Pinst... Pinstripes4

*preceded, not proceeded in the second paragraph.

moejess1 moejess1

wow! these are not facts but opinions. there are a lot of dysfunctional parents out there too! I admit it is harder to raise your kids alone, but look at the news, a lot of crazy shit happening to our kids , are from 2 parent homes . i guess?????



wyote... wyotechangel

are we so weak that we need a man to raise our children and do every thing! god my mil was a single mom of two boys worked 3 jobs and still had the boys in sports and they turned out great. stop pushing this shit on people, just because you could never raise a good kid does not mean others cant speak for your own kids!

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