Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Single Parent Problems?

I read an article the other day that placed the blame for all that ails society, from crime to violence to discipline problems in school, on single parent families and the disintegration of the traditional family. While I find myself agreeing with some of the claims to a point a lot of what was said did not sit right with me. While I agree that parents are the single biggest influence on their children's lives, or at least should be and that ideally we would all live happily with a mommy, daddy, 2.5 kids, and a dog in a perfect world, the realist in me knows that this ideal is far more fiction than fact. That doesn't mean, to me, we shouldn't desire that ideal or stop trying to achieve that ideal, but what happens when that is not the reality?

I taught in public schools for years. I know that many kids who come from broken homes statistically have higher rates of discipline problems, but from personal experience, something the author of this article doesn't have, I also know that kids who come from stable, two parent homes also have discipline problems and some kids from one or no parent homes are the epitome of model behavior. I had students whose single mothers worked their butts off to provide for their children, cooked them dinner every night, taught them right from wrong, set high standards for behavior, and were great parents. So, basically, I don't put a lot of value in statistics, especially those that can be manipulated for their own agenda, be it personal, political, etc.

Part of the article suggested that if we really want to see a difference in crime, violence, and discipline problems then we will start addressing the real cause--single parent homes. How exactly this is supposed to be done was conveniently not outlined or specified in the article. It made me wonder, though, what about homes that become single family homes as a result of a death. Are these families suddenly doomed and to blame because they are now one short as a result of something out of their control? What about those who gave their lives as the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom? They are now technically single family homes. Are they now suddenly responsible for the demise of our society as we know it?

There are just too many variables to simply say single parent homes are the cause of violence, crime and discipline problems. Sure, absent fathers, jailed mothers, drug addicted parents of either sex, non-present parents, are all contributing factors that have led to some of these problems. To lump them into the same category as families who lost a spouse and parent to something unavoidable seems outlandish and grossly misleading to me.

So, what are your thoughts? Are single parent homes partly or solely to blame for these issues? Do you see a difference in the TYPES of single parents homes? If so, should these be accounted for when making such sweeping statements?


Joanne said...

Rather than a home that is single-parented being the cause, it seems more likely that whatever issue is at the ROOT of a home going single might be to blame. The causes are much too varied and intricate to blanket them under one reason. It seems like this article presented too sweeping of a generalization to have much authority.

jodifur said...

Huh, my son is being a huge behavior problem in preschool, and he is from a stable, two parent household. So I don't know. The school is blaming ADHD, but he hasn't been diagnosed with that. I blame the school.

It's not going well.