Multiple studies have demonstrated that children fare best in households with both biological parents, but bringing up your child in a two-parent home is not always possible. A variety of circumstances result in single parenting, including: death of a parent, military service for one parent, an incarcerated father or mother, and divorce. Single parenthood affects children, but not all of the effects are negative.
Parents do not always parent in harmony; in fact, they may have vastly different expectations of their children and ideas about discipline. For instance, one parent may approve of spanking, while the other finds it abusive and prefers the utilization of time-outs. An advantage of a single parent home is the ability to parent the way you feel is most effective and manageable. You can set the pace for getting ready for school in the morning, doing homework and completing chores in the evening and what time your child goes to bed at night. You don't have to compromise or negotiate with the other parent.
In most circumstances, both parents have legal rights as to some specific decisions regarding their children, even if the children reside with only one parent. You may be required to consult with the other parent regarding matters of education, medical care and religious practice, for instance. In many other cases, however, you can make decisions without the need for consultation. An advantage of a single-parent home is that you can plan birthday parties, have sleepovers, agree or disagree about puppy adoption and approve or disapprove of a first date -- as you alone think appropriate.
Maintaining a single parent household is advantageous when the other parent is in some way toxic or dangerous to the family. A parent who suffers from drug or alcohol addiction can wreak havoc by taking money and disappearing for days, for instance, as could a mother or father who is in any way abusive. Children who grow up in high-conflict homes suffer academically, are at an increased risk of substance abuse and are at a "greater risk for early family formation and dissolution," say researchers Kelly Musick and Ann Meier in "Are Both Parents Always Better Than One? Parental Conflict and Young Adult Well-Being."
Another advantage to a single-parent family is of specific benefit to the parent. Single-handedly running a household, maintaining a budget and ensuring the well-being of even one child is unarguably a challenge. Enduring the life of a single parent while juggling other stressors, such as illness and job instability, compounds this feat. Managing these multiple tasks is likely to produce feelings of accomplishment and pride. Successfully and solely navigating parenthood may be a well-deserved boost to the single parent's sense of self-worth.
- The Ohio State University Research News: Family Stability May Be More Crucial than Two Parents for Child Success
- California Center for Population Research: Are Both Parents Always Better Than One? Parental Conflict and Young Adult Well-Being; Kelly Musick and Ann Meier
- Social Work Today Research Review: Family Stability May Be More Crucial Than Two Parent Families for Child Success