According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS) Family and Household Report, spanning from 2003-2013, the number of single parent families has increased from 1.8 million to 1.9 million. In addition to these figures, the study also discovered that only 1 in every 10 of the families consisted of a lone male parent, which emphasises just how common it is for females to end up being single parents. Taking all these results into account, the need for a strong, supportive network whatever your family situation, be it separated, together, or single parent, is vital to children’s health and wellbeing.
There are many family structures prevailing in our society today, as commented on by SCOE. Out of these ones mentioned, it is arguable that the nuclear, single parent, and adoptive families are the most commonly known to us. Out of those ‘top three’, so to speak, lone parent families are the group that is increasing at a rapid rate, and in turn is the group dealing with the most difficulties in regards to child development.
An article by the Telegraph has discussed one of these corresponding difficulties in length: behavioural problems. As reported in the news piece, it has been discovered that a dramatic 12% of all single parent children display some form of behavioural issue, which is starkly contrasted by the 6% reported in traditional, two parent families. In addition to the makeup of the family itself, other factors also affected the development of the children, such as parental qualifications and, one of the most obvious factors, household income. Furthermore, it was revealed that children of young mothers tended to have a more turbulent start to life than children of mothers aged 30 years and older.
The last point of which helps highlight just how difficult it is for young single mothers, which are, as shown by the Family and Household Report, the most common lone parents. It would be fair to assume that younger mothers have a great deal of problems to overcome when bringing up a child alone, such as financial instability. Many young mothers, though not all, tend to be less financially sound than other single mothers, which will naturally have an affect both on the parent and child. Most of the time it’s because very few job positions offer enough of a decent income with the flexibility that young mum’s desperately need; often one must be compromised. What is more, young mothers tend to have less guidance and knowledge about parenthood than older mothers, a factor which the government and many charities have been keen to target and change over the recent years.
To further aggravate an already tender situation, lone parents are also far more likely to experience barriers when seeking employment, as commented on by the GCPH. One such issue is job flexibility, as touched on above – many jobs don’t offer single mum’s enough hours that work around their family life, which means that they have too little time with their children when they do work.
As a result of our society and shifted change in social norms, divorce and separation is becoming a common place trait in families. What is more, when relationships like this break down, it is the children that are affected most heavily. Therefore, even if a relationship is breaking down, it’s vital that fair agreements are in place to try and prevent issues for the children and parents involved.