How important is family in the development of a balanced and productive child? Nearly all sociologists believe family values are critical to our society.
Like almost every species of animals, humans care for their young. If the relationship between parent and child is curtailed for any reason, he or she will likely encounter serious disadvantages as they attempt to deal with the travails of everyday life.
The primary functions of parenthood include security, emotional support, nourishment and training. If a newborn human is torn away from its parents, anything is possible. But generally the child will likely struggle when it becomes an adult.
Society employs numerous methods to give an abandoned child an adequate upbringing. Orphanages provide security and nourishment, but not very much emotional and personal attention. Adoption and foster care sometimes works out well for children, but it’s often fraught with abuses of varying severity.
But, there is nothing like having a mom and dad to lean on when you’re young, and in many cases to advise you even after your reach adulthood. Extended families often fill in for parents that are unable to raise children by themselves. Everything from babysitting while parents work to actually taking responsibility for the rearing of the child are available in loving families.
In today’s world the role of a parent has been distorted in many settings. For instance families with only a single mom have become far too commonplace. How difficult is it for moms to provide the love, affection, training and security for their kids, when they are working hard to make ends meet without the assistance of a partner?
How pervasive is the decline in two-parent families, you may ask? Significant, as the 2016 US Census indicated that among 73.7 million children under 18, 69% live with two parents, while 23% live with one. Between 1960 and 2016 the percentage of families with two parents declined from 88% to 69%. During the same period children living with only one parent went from 8% to 23%.
One interesting question is: Do children from single parent homes perform at lower levels in school? There has been much debate on this issue. One sociologist said, “Research shows that children in single parent households score below children in two parent homes.” Another researcher said, “Very high rates of family fragmentation in the US are subtracting what very large numbers of students are learning in school and holding them back in other ways.”
Of course one-parent families are not all the same. Extended family members may support some of them, and some may benefit by high incomes. But generally one-parent families exist in lower socioeconomic circumstances, and most single parents do not have the energy to motivate children and/or teach them values and character that would improve all aspects of their lives.
The massive breakup of families from divorce and other problems also results in fewer educational successes. How can a busy single mom find the time to give her children adequate emotional support, motivation and the values and character traits that colleges think are so desirable?
Granted, scholarships are readily available for the needy students, especially those that have high academic performance. But convincing children that education is critical in improving one’s status and lifestyle could be daunting for a mom.
This compares to two-parent affluent families that work diligently to push their children towards academic achievement. How can a child of a single parent family ever compete for choice admissions to the best schools in this country?
This essay has focused only on one of the major issues confronting the growing number of single parent families in America. There are many more. Strong family ties, which appear to be ebbing over time, are necessary to bring out the best in our children. Therefore family stability should be a primary issue for the federal government and leaders across the country.