Single Parent Families

Notes on the reaons for the growth of single-parent families, why single parents familes are normally headed by women, critical views on single-parent families and posotive views on single-parent families

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  • Created on: 17-05-11 19:28
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SINGLEPARENT FAMILIES
The percentage of single parent families has more than tripled since the 1970's and about
25% of all families with dependent children are singleparent families and about 90% of them
are headed by women
One child in five now lives with a lone parent
In the past singleparent families existed but were fewer in number & normally caused by the
death of the male partner but not most singleparent families are a result of divorce and
women not marrying
REASONS FOR THE GROWTH IN SINGLEPARENT FAMILIES
DIVORCE ­ Divorce was made much cheaper & easier in the UK in the early 1970s
GREATER SOCIAL ACCEPTANCE ­ There is a lot less stigma to being a single parent today
compared to the past. This is linked to secularisation, which means the decline in religious
practice and thinking, for many people today religion has little influence or control over their
lives which had lead to a wider range of options in regard to what family or household people
choose to live in. The media also portrays single parents in a more positive light than in the
past.
THE WELFARE STATE ­ Means that women no longer have to rely on a man or marriage to
support them, and it is easier to be a single parent today because the state provides them
with a range of benefits
CHANGING ATTITUDES TO MARRIAGE
WHY ARE SINGLEPARENT FAMILIES NORMALLY HEADED BY WOMEN?
1) When couple's divorce women are far more likely to be given custody of the child
2) Men tent to have betterpaid jobs and may be reluctant to give these up and become single
parents
3) Many men may be reluctant to give and work and care for a child as it could threaten their
masculinity
4)Woman are socialised to be nurturing and to expect to be mothers so being a single parent
is more socially acceptable to them than it would be to a man
CRITICAL VIEWS ON SINGLEPARENT FAMILIES
Functionalists & the New Right ­ argue that a singleparent cannot provide adequate
socialisation and that two parents are needed, they argue that children need a female and
male role but in singlefamilies the children normally only experience the female role and not
the male role.
Many people are critical of single parent families because they are more likely to be
dependent on the welfare state not in work people argue that this is unfair to those who pay
their taxes and work.
Research summarised by McLanahan & Booth indicates that children from singleparent
families do less well at school and are more likely to become delinquents compared to
children who come from nuclear families. Children from singleparent families are more likely
to become single parent families' themselves and experience lower earnings as adults.
POSOTIVE VIEWS ON SINGLEPARENT FAMILIES
Feminists are supportive of singleparent families because of the independence that it
provides for women. They say that the woman may have left their partner because of
domestic violence so a singleparent family may be better for the woman and the children

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Many children from singleparent families do well educationally and take up professions jobs,
and many singleparent families raise their children well and they do not become delinquents
Many women do not choose to be single parent families and as pointed out by Robert
Chester many singleparent families come from nuclear families and most will become
nuclear families again when they form new relationships
Cashmore has pointed out that if two parents are always arguing and fighting then it may
be better for the child to…read more

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