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Friday, January 17, 2014

Thursday's Psychology Trivia: True or False: Children Raised By Single Moms Tend To Be Emotionally Handicapped For Life

Thought for the Day: I know it's Friday and not Thursday, but yesterday I was very busy and unable to post this Thursday's Psychology Trivia Question. So to try and stay on track, I'm posting this now & will post #FF Friday's Fabulous Finds a bit later in the day. Here's yesterday's Question and answer:
True or False: Children Raised By Single Moms Tend To Be Emotionally Handicapped For Life 
    What do you think? Are children raised by two parents healthier emotionally than children raised by single moms. Are children handicapped for life by growing up with just one parent? Do they tend to have drug and alcohol problems, lower grades and more behavioral and mental health issues than children raised in two parent homes. 

      The answer is false. How well a child will do in the future depends on a number of variables in addition to the number of parenting figures. Unfortunately, psychological research has been guilty of painting a dire picture for how children of single moms fare which may be skewed by false prejudices and lack of adequate control of all the variables such as low income, fighting in the family and extended family involvement. Somehow, even when the statistics are not terribly strong, we tend to hold on to the myth that two parent families are better. Many studies report a rise in drug and alcohol abuse, behavioral and academic problems among children from single parent homes. In a book called Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After, Psychologist Bella DePaulo, Ph.D makes a strong case that the above statement is blatantly false. 

     When Dr. DePaulo reviewed the findings of a study of 22,000 adolescents which found that there were more teens struggling with drug and alcohol problems. She was struck by both the small number of teens in homes of single moms with drug and alcohol problems, 5.7% and by the fact that 4.5% of teens raised in two parent households were suffering from drug and alcohol abuse. If having two parents is so much better for children, Dr. DePaolo asks why is there only a 1.2% difference between the two groups?

     She also found that a comprehensive study of academic achievement of children  found no significant difference between groups raised in various types of households. Instead she reports that achievement in school was related to, 
"Whether there was a lot of conflict within families, high levels of disagreements between parents, or endless arguments between parents and kids."
     In addition, some studies showed that children in single parent homes at times have the advantage over their peers raised in two family homes. Single parents tend to be friendlier with their kids and often they have more interactions with extended family members. Single moms also tend to build a network of friends which become a support system for them and their children. Being raised in a happy single parent home with adequate support systems may be better for children from a two parent home that is filled with discord between the parents.

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