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Family defined by Sara McLanahan (1994) is the basic social group united through bonds of kinship or marriage, present in all society. Ideally, the family provides its members with protection, companionship, security, and socialization. The structure of the family and the needs that the family fulfills vary from society to society.
Historical studies have shown that family structure has been less changed by urbanization and industrialization than was once supposed. McLamaham (1994) mentioned in a seminar at Urban Institution Press. The nuclear family was the most prevalent preindustrial unit in the West and is still the basic unit of social organization. The modern family differs from earlier traditional forms, however, in its functions, composition, and lifecycle and in the roles of husbands and wives.
The changes in family structure that children experience during their lives are not without consequences. Western societies have found that children from mother or father-absent homes manifest a number of internal and external effects including; sadness and depression, delinquency, aggression, sex role difficulties, early initiation of sexual activity and teen pregnancy, as well as poor social and adaptive functioning and low self esteem as reported by Princeton sociologist Sarah McLanaham (1994).
Additionally children who frequently move from one residence to another, in the process of child shifting, also exhibit problem behavior. Child-shifting, a common sequel to parental absence in Jamaica, require children to adjust physically to their new environment but also, and of greater consequence, to adjust emotionally. The children of incarcerated woman, though relatively few in number, require special consideration because of the effects of this more unique type of parental separation. A recent report by sociologist Dr. Aldrie Henry-Lee found that women worried about their children’s well-being but thought their relationships with the children were not affected. (2009)
Psychologist Marinna Ramkissoon, in her research on the interaction between Jamaican fathers and their children, investigated two aspects of the father-child relationship: physical absence and psychological absence. Psychological absence refers to the father’s absence in the minds of their children based on emotional inaccessibility, lack of responsibility and indifference to the welfare of their children. Physical presence necessarily promotes psychological presence, but physical presence and psychological absence can lead to expressive rejection and greater psychological damage.
As shown in Ramkissoon’s research and that of others, while the composition of the family is important to children, how the family functions to support children is more important to children’s development. Family supporting children’s development is commonly called parenting. In western society, this is largely the role of biological parents. However, in the varying family structures presented in Jamaica, and indeed in the Caribbean, the terms “family” and “parenting” have much broader contexts.
In fact, Cherlin and Fursterberg (1994) state that the single-parent family is the fastest growing family structure in America. This statistic is no different from the situation in Jamaica. STATIN indicates that there is an almost 12% divorce rate in Jamaica as of 2012. This separation of unions must result in children living with only one biological parent or none at all. Furthermore, the statistics indicate that the total number of births between 2001and 2012 is525, 578 while the total number of marriages for the same period is only 264,506. This is a vague representation of the number of children born outside of marriages and possible unions.
Family structure is hypothesized to directly influence children’s psychological well-being by affecting family processes, such as parent-child relationships and parental conflict, background variables, such as income, and individual characteristics, such as mother’s psychological well-being. Thus, family processes and other variables are predicted to mediate the effect of family structure on children’s psychological well-being. Furthermore family processes are predicated to have the largest impact on children’s psychological well-being (Acock and Demo, 1994). With knowledge of the importance of family forms on children, this research has to be conducted to determine specific impacts.
In conclusion, the family is the main unit in society. As you can see my sources has a different point on this topic. Sarah McLanaham found out that modern family differs from earlier traditional form, which she highlighted by indicating the change in its functions, composition and lifecycle and in the role of husband and wives. There are some effects that children from a mother or father- absence homes such as depression, delinquent, teen pregnancy etc. on the other hand Marinna Ramkisson in her research believe that there are two aspects of the father-child relationship which are: physical absence and psychological absence.
Aims and Objectives
The aims of the study are to:
Develop knowledge regarding the concept of family, its roles and functions. Find out the factors that affect the development of children who live without one or both biological parents. Find out if children who grow up in a two-parent family with both biological parents present do better on a wide range of outcomes than children who grow up in a single-parent family. Provide evidence for the creation of effective family structures for children and families.
The objectives are to:
Establish the effects of single parenting on children.
Determine if there is a difference between children living with one biological parent and those living with none.
The family is often been regarded as the cornerstone of society. In premodern and modern societies alike it has been seen as the most basic unit of social organization and one which carries out vital tasks, such as socializing children. Most sociologists assumed that family life was evolving as modernity progressed, and the changes involved made the family better suited to meeting the needs of society and of family members. The structure of families traditionally hinges on relations between parents and children, between spouses, or both. Consequently, there is substantial variation in family forms around the world, varying from culture to culture. The most common form of family structure in the Western World is monogamy, which is the practice of having only one spouse at a time. A variety of other family structures exist. According to Wright and Wright (1994) the family is the foundation of human society. Families are one of the strongest socializing forces in life. They teach children to control unacceptable behavior, to delay gratification, and to respect the rights of others. Conversely, families can teach children aggressive, antisocial and violent behavior. The primary function of the family is to reproduce society, both biologically, through procreation, and socially, through socialization. In the following decades, social changes seemed to be undermining traditional families. Rising divorce rates, cohabitation before marriage , increasing numbers of single parent families and single-person household, and other trends have all suggested that individuals may be basing their lives less and less around conventional families. But the question still remains “What are the effects that Single-parenting has on Children?”
Single-parent families can no longer be viewed as non-traditional families. These families are all around us today. Children in Jamaica grow up in a variety of family structures. Single parent and two-parent families are created and recreated through marriage, divorce, remarriage, cohabitation, and birth outside marriage. Single- parent families are the fastest growing family structure in Jamaica. The effects of a single-parent home on a child’s behavior can be far-reaching and impact several areas of life, including academic achievement and social behaviors. The purpose of this research is to investigate the question the effect that single-parenting has on children.
The Research Design
The study will be about seeking the effects that contribute to children living in a single family in Red Shop community. Social Survey will be used as the research method. Social Surveys are usually large-scale research projects that collect standardized data from a large cross-section of the population.
The methodology used is Quantitative Research. Quantitative Research generates numerical data or data that can be converted into numbers. In terms of sampling method, Probability Sampling, to be more specific, Simple Random Sampling will be used to carry out the research. Questionnaires will be presented to collect data that is needed for the research. A Questionnaire is a number of pre-set questions that can contain open-ended, fixed choice or a combination of both types of questions. These are what will be done to find an answer or answers relating to the topic. After a careful analysis, the data will be presented in the form of graphs.
The population of the Red Shop entails both males and females, young and old. Simple Random Sampling will be used to carry out the research. This will be the most basic way of selecting a sample. This is a subset of a statistical population in which each member of the subset has an equal probability of being chosen. The researcher will be choosing the sample from the population using no particular order or method. A sample is a subset of a population. There are ten persons in the sample. This comprises of both males and females between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five years that are single parents. .
Data Collection Instrument
For this study, a questionnaire will be used. A questionnaire is a research instrument consisting of a series of questions and other prompts for the purpose of gathering information from respondents. Although they are often designed for statistical analysis of the responses, this is not always the case. The questionnaire was chosen over the other types of surveys in that it is cheap, does not require as much effort from the questioner as verbal or telephone surveys, and often has standardized answers that make it simple to compile data.
This is a survey carried out in the Red Shop community to determine the effect that single-parenting has on children. The information collected will play a vital role in the completion of my Internal Assessment.
Of importance is that this questionnaire requires your honesty. This is not a test and there are no wrong or right answers. Furthermore, total anonymity is ensured as you are not required to give your name or address. Your responses in this survey will be confidential. Most of the questions can be answered by a tick in the box, specify instructions are given where necessary. Thank you for your time and cooperation.
You are kindly asked to provide truthful answers to the questions below. All the information will be kept strictly confidential; as such you are not required to insert your name as a mean of protecting your identity.
1. What gender are you?
2. What age group do you belong?
3. What ethnic group do you belong?
4. What is your work status?
Part time Worker
5. What causes you to be a single parent?
Partner is dead
Prefer to live on my own
6. What are the consequences you face as a single parent?
7. How do you think your child/children feels when one parent is absent from their lives? Sad
8. What are the consequences your child/children face?
Low self esteem
Early initiation of sexual activity
9. How often does your child see the other parent?
Once a week
Every 2 weeks
10. Is the other parent of your child/children involved in their lives? Yes
Presentation of Data
The questionnaires were issued to ten persons who live in the Red Shop community. These ten persons comprises of five males and five females. When asked for their age 60% were in the age of 22-25 years and 40% of the sample was below that age group. On the questionnaires, the following questions were asked.
When ask what gender are you, twenty percent said male and eighty percent said female.
When asked what some consequences your children faces are, thirty percent said sexual activity, forty percent said low esteem and fifteen percent said teenage pregnancy and depression.
When asked what are some consequences they face as a single parent, majority said financial problem which is indicated by fifty percent and minor said economic problem which is ten percent.
When asked what are the causes of single parents in the community eighty percent said separation and ten percent said divorce and five per cent of the sample said they prefer to live on their own or partner is dead.
Analysis of Data
The questionnaires were issued to ten persons who live in Red Shop These ten persons comprise of five male and five females. When asked for their age 60% of the sample was between the ages of 22-25 years. 40% of the sample was below that age group.
In Figure 1, 80% of the respondents were female and 40% of these respondents believe their children have a low esteem because of the absence of one parent, (Figure 2). This could be that they see the absence of one parent as a stress in their life, also impact on their live in a negative way. Also, they see more females in the household than males. This could be that males find the role of a father is not important in a child’s life and can not find time to express themselves the way they want to or that they find themselves to be unimportant because not many mothers in the family household need the presence of the father or the mothers may be in a visiting relationship with someone else and don’t want to invite the males.
Therefore it would not be a problem for men to be in the child/children life because in most societies, it is usually the men who would provide for the family. On the other hand, there are those who do not think there is a problem with a family without one parent absent. This could be that the parent that is present can provide both economically and financially. Also, persons would find it a problem for more women being present in the family homes than men.
Apart from that, 50% of the sample says that with a parent absent they are facing financial problems. From the sample it is seen that it’s the females who are going through this challenge, (Figure 2). This could be that men are less likely to work and finance their child/children than how women would. Most of these women are unemployed so they can not provide for their child/children. Therefore, most of these respondents from the sample become single mom/dad because of separation. The respondents seem to be in a visiting relationship than in a common law marriage or the child/children born wasn’t intended.
Findings, Discussion of Findings and Conclusion
It was found that the Red Shop Community needs to implement a program to highlight the presence of both parents in a child’s life. Sessions among males, reasoning sessions among the males and females and some fun activities that would encourage them to come to the program that will be held. Also the community needs to be more cooperative and help these people who can not afford to provide for their child/children. This allows the males in the community to feel more comfortable of expressing themselves the way they want to and not having the feeling as if they are going to be run away from the other parent.
Nevertheless, it was agreeable to what Psychologist Marinna Ramkissoon, 2009 had said, there are two aspect of father-child relationship. These are physical absence and psychological absence. Psychological absence refers to the father’s absence in the minds of their children based on emotional inaccessibility, lack of responsibility and indifference to the welfare of their children. Physical presence necessarily promotes psychological presence, but physical presence and psychological absence can lead to expressive rejection and greater psychological damage.
Additionally, the child/children that are living in a single parent home in the Red Shop community are likely to be face by many consequences. They also need guidance and love from both parents it is not being provided by both parents to them. According to Sarah McLanaham (1994), the changes in family structure that children experience during their lives are not without consequences. Western societies have found that children from mother or father-absent homes manifest a number of internal and external effects including; sadness and depression, delinquency, aggression, sex role difficulties, early initiation of sexual activity and teen pregnancy, as well as poor social and adaptive functioning and low self esteem. In conclusion, it all seems that women are more likely to be worried about their child’s well being more while the men are most likely to be rational. Women can be rational too, but they tend to overlook the logic when given a choice between the two. For some of the females, they would at least consider their child’s life important than theirs but for some males, they would not consider that because they are too busy trying to be tough. Also, it is the male that always have the money to provide for their child/children financially.
McLanahan, Sara. (1994). “Growing Diversity and Inequality in the American Family.” In R. Farley (Ed). State of the Union: American in the 1990s. New York: Russell Sage Foundation
Cherlin, Andrew. (1992). Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Haralambos, M., & Holborn, M., (Eds). (2004). Sociology: Themes and Perspectives. London: Harper Collins Publishers Ltd.