English Composition 1101
July 22, 2009
The Collected Family: the Benefits of Growing Up in a Single-Parent Home
Most western educated people are familiar with the proverb “It takes a village to raise a child.” Perhaps that is why those in the media are so worried about the so called “collapse of the American marriage” and the dangerous “redefining of family” that results (Flanagan). They assume that the two parent, mother and father, structure is the only true measure of family and that anything that deviates should be viewed as less than. However this happily married 1950s male-breadwinner family that we've been socialized to view as the ideal is a fairly recent construct. In fact it wasn't until the 1920s that the majority of children in this country began to live in homes where their family consisted solely of a father who worked, a mother who stayed home to tend house, and they were allowed to go to school instead of having to go out into the workforce. (Coontz 72) In this midst of what many conservative politicians and religious leaders have labeled a family crisis (Drexler 8) single parents are often forced to bear a fair brunt of the criticism.
Whether the result of death, divorce, abandonment, or even choice the existence of single parents, and the families they create, goes against everything that we're taught defines a family. There have even been countless studies that have consistently shown that growing up in single parent homes is detrimental to the long and short term success of children. According to Princeton sociologist and single mother Sara McLanahan, children from single parent homes are more likely to experience lower school achievement and aspirations regardless of the parent's race or educational background (68). The children also have an increased risk of psychological distress (Aseltine 140), earlier inception of substance use and sexual activity (Flewelling 179), and had a greater likelihood of engaging in problem...