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PSYCHOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF A SINGLE PARENT FAMILY Growing up in a single-parent family can have both positive and negative psychological

effects on both you and your child. It's likely that children may feel happy or relieved when their parents split up, for example, and the house is no longer dominated by fighting, but there are also bound to be feelings of longing for a "normal" two-parent family life, notes the website KidsHealth. But recognizing these conflicting feelings and talking about them can help a great deal. Greater Sense of Responsibility A report from the University of Florida Extension Office notes that one of the major psychological effects of living in a single-parent family is a greater sense of responsibility. Children tend to assume responsibilities at home and learn to appreciate the sacrifices and effort made by the single parent with whom they live. Kids may at times resent having to grow up a little faster, which means it's especially important for their single parents to make sure their children still enjoy some of the typical parts of childhood, whether it's youth sports, summer camp, or the other fun parts of school and friends. Reduced Conflict-Related Stress In a Psychology Today blog from January 2009, author and social psychologist Bella DePaulo, Ph.D., points out that research indicates that kids fare better academically and socially in a single-parent home than in a two-parent home where there is a lot of conflict. Psychologically, children dealing with stress and uncertainty struggle in many aspects of their lives. If the fighting and arguing that can exist in an unhappy family can be eliminated through divorce or separation, children may experience an improved outlook. Resentment A child who lives with one parent may find many things to resent about his life. He may be angry with one or both parents for having to grow up in a single-parent home, and blame one or both for being the cause of a single-parent arrangement. He may also resent other kids who appear to have a happier, more secure home life, and resent the lack of attention he receives from his working parent. When these feelings start to appear, it's important for a child to speak out, particularly with individuals in the home, advises KidsHealth. Improved Parent-Child Relationships The University of Florida report echoes a common theme among single-parent research: the relationship between a single parent and a child can be one that is close and affectionate. A child in a single-parent home often sees the parent in a new light, and a single parent may be more likely to focus love and affection on a child when no spouse is involved. The parent and child are mutually dependent on each other, and in many cases this leads to a relationship that is more supportive and communicative. References University of Florida Extension Office/Hillsborough County: Strengths of Single Parent Families Psychology Today: Children of Single Mothers: How Do They Really Fare? Life Coaches for Kids: Father Absence Research KidsHealth: Living with a Single Parent Article reviewed by Roman Tsivkin Last updated on: Jun 14, 2011

Read more: The Effects of a Single Parent Home on a Child's Behavior

Photo Credit combing hair image by Mat Hayward from According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of children who grow up in single-parent homes continues to rise. Children with two parents grow up with more financial and educational advantages, according to the bureau. The effects of a single-parent home on a child's behavior can be far-reaching and include many areas of life, from academic achievement to social habits. Academic Achievement Most single-parent households are run by mothers, and the absence of a father, coupled with lower household income, can increase the risk of children performing poorly in school. The lack of financial support from a father often results in single mothers working more, which can in turn affect children because they receive less attention and guidance on their homework. Researcher Virginia Knox concluded from data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, that for every $100 of child support mothers receive, their children's standardized test scores increase by 1/8 to 7/10 of a point. In addition, Knox found that children with single mothers who have contact and emotional support from their fathers tend to do better in school than children who have no contact with their fathers. Emotional Effects According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 6 out of 10 children who live with only their mother are living near or below the poverty line. Living in poverty is stressful and can have many emotional effects on children, including low self-esteem, increased anger and frustration and an increased risk for violent behavior. Besides financial constraints, other emotional effects of growing up in a single parent household may include feelings of abandonment, sadness, loneliness and difficulty socializing and connecting with others. Effects vary from child to child, however, and the individual parenting style of the single parent is also a big influence on the child's development. Positive Effects Single parenting can have positive effects on children as well, depending on other factors such as personality types and parenting techniques. According to a study at Cornell University, positive single parenting did not show any negative impact on the social and educational development of the 12- and 13-year-olds participating in the study. In addition, children in single-parent families may exhibit strong responsibility skills, as they are often called upon to help out more with family chores and tasks. Children in single-parent families often form close bonds with their parent, as they are closely dependent on each other throughout the child's life. Children from single-parent families may also form closer bonds with extended family members or family friends, as these people often help raise them. References Single-Parent Family Structure, Child Development and Child Well-Being U.S. Census Brief: Children with Single Parents--How They Fare Single Parenting and Children's Academic Achievement Article reviewed by DeborahO Last updated on: Mar 23, 2010

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