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Familial status of families with and without parents

Facts on single parenting from both sides

How parenting affects the kids
Notable family legacies across the country
Learning patterns and behaviors throughout time
Kids expectations of parents

A. Family statistics
Family life is changing. Two-parent households are on the decline in the United States as
divorce, remarriage and cohabitation are on the rise. And families are smaller now, both due to
the growth of single-parent households and the drop-in fertility. Not only are Americans having
fewer children, but the circumstances surrounding parenthood have changed. While in the early
1960s babies typically arrived within a marriage, today fully four-in-ten births occur to women
who are single or living with a non-marital partner. At the same time that family structures have
transformed, so has the role of mothers in the workplace and in the home. As more moms have
entered the labor force, more have become breadwinners in many cases, primary breadwinners
in their families.
As a result of these changes, there is no longer one dominant family form in the U.S.
Parents today are raising their children against a backdrop of increasingly diverse and, for many,
constantly evolving family forms. By contrast, in 1960, the height of the post-World War II baby
boom, there was one dominant family form. At that time 73% of all children were living in a
family with two married parents in their first marriage. By 1980, 61% of children were living in
this type of family, and today less than half (46%) are. The declining share of children living in
what is often deemed a traditional family has been largely supplanted by the rising shares of
children living with single or cohabiting parents.
Not only has the diversity in family living arrangements increased since the early 1960s,
but so has the fluidity of the family. Non-marital cohabitation and divorce, along with the
prevalence of remarriage and (non-marital) recoupling in the U.S., make for family structures
that in many cases continue to evolve throughout a childs life. While in the past a child born to a
married couple as most children were was very likely to grow up in a home with those two
parents, this is much less common today, as a childs living arrangement changes with each
adjustment in the relationship status of their parents. For example, one study found that over a
three-year period, about three-in-ten (31%) children younger than 6 had experienced a major
change in their family or household structure, in the form of parental divorce, separation,
marriage, cohabitation or death.

B. Familial status of families with and without parents

Both mothers and fathers play important roles in the growth and development of children.
The number and the type of parents (e.g., biological, step) in the household, as well as the
relationship between the parents, are consistently linked to a childs well-being.
Nationally representative data on adoptive families are relatively new, and warrant a separate
treatment. Many adopted children bring to their new families a history of adverse early
experiences that may make them more vulnerable to developmental risks.
The proportion of children living with both parents, following a marked decline between
1970 and 1990, has fallen more slowly over the most recent two decades, dropping from 69
percent in 2000 to 64 percent in 2012. By 2015, the proportion had actually increased, to 65
Among young children, for example, those living with no biological parents, or in single-
parent households, are less likely than children with two biological parents to exhibit behavioral
self-control, and more likely to be exposed to high levels of aggravated parenting, than are
children living with two biological parents.
Children living with two married adults (biological or adoptive parents) have, in general,
better health, greater access to health care, and fewer emotional or behavioral problems than
children living in other types of families.
Among children in two-parent families, those living with both biological parents in a
low-conflict marriage tend to do better on a host of outcomes than those living in step-parent
families. Outcomes for children in step-parent families are in many cases similar to those for
children growing up in single-parent families.
Children whose parents are divorced also have lower academic performance, social
achievement, and psychological adjustment than children with married parents.
Reliance on kin networks (for example, living with grandparents) can provide social and
financial support for some families, particularly single-parent families. However, the evidence
suggests that children who live in households with single mothers in some cases fare better, and
in other cases worse, when also living with a grandparent.
Single-parent families tend to have much lower incomes than do two-parent families,
while cohabiting families fall in-between. Research indicates, however, that the income
differential only partially accounts for the negative effects on many areas of child and youth
well-being (including health, educational attainment and assessments, behavior problems, and
psychological well-being) associated with living outside of a married, two-parent family.

Between 1960 and 1996, the proportion of all children under age 18 who were living with
two married parents decreased steadily, from 85 to 68 percent. This share was stable during
much of the late 1990s and into the 2000s, but by 2012 it had decreased to 64 percent. The rate
was stable between 2012 and 2015, and was at 65 percent in 2015.
In 1960, the proportion of children living in mother-only families was eight percent, but
by 1996 that proportion had tripled, to 24 percent. Since then, it has fluctuated between 22 and
24 percent, and was at 23 percent in 2015. Between 1990 and 2015, the share of children living
in father-only families has fluctuated between three and five percent, and was at four percent in
2015. The proportion living without either parent (with either relatives or with non-relatives) has
remained steady, at approximately four percent.
In 2015, seven percent of all children lived in the home of their grandparents. In two-
thirds of these families, one or both parents were also present. The proportion living with
grandparents increased until the mid-1990s, from three to six percent of children. After
remaining at around five percent until 2006, the proportion increased until 2010, but has since
remained steady, at between six and seven percent.

C. Facts on single parenting from both sides

One out of every two children in the United States will live in a single-parent family at
some time before they reach age 18. According the United States Census Bureau, in 2002 about
20 million children lived in a household with only their mother or their father. This is more than
one-fourth of all children in the United States.

Since 1950, the number of one-parent families has increased substantially. In 1970, about
11 percent of children lived in single-parent families. During the 1970s, divorce became much
more common, and the number of families headed by one parent increased rapidly. The number
peaked in the 1980s and then declined slightly in the 1990s. By 1996, 31 percent of children
lived in single-parent families. In 2002, the number was 28 percent. Many other children have
lived in single-parent families for a time before their biological parent remarried, when they
moved into a two-parent family with one biological parent and one step parent.

The reasons for single-parent families have also changed. In the mid-twentieth century,
most single-parent families came about because of the death of a spouse. In the 1970s and 1980s,
most single-parent families were the result of divorce. In the early 2000s, more and more single
parents have never married. Many of these single parents live with an adult partner, sometimes
even the unmarried father of their child. These families are counted by the Census Bureau as
single-parent families, although two adults are present. Still other families are counted as single-
parent families if the parents are married, but one is away for an extended period, for example,
on military deployment.

The most common type of single-parent family is one that consists of a mother and her
biological children. In 2002, 16.5 million or 23 percent of all children were living with their
single mother. This group included 48 percent of all African-American children, 16 percent of all
non-Hispanic white children, 13 percent of Asian/Pacific Islander children, and 25 percent of
children of Hispanic origin. However, these numbers do not give a true picture of household
organization, because 11 percent of all children were actually living in homes where their mother
was sharing a home with an adult to whom she was not married. This group includes 14 percent
of white children, 6 percent of African-American children, 11 percent of Asian/Pacific Islander,
and 12 percent of Hispanic children.

Households headed by a single father increased substantially after the early 1980s,
reflecting society's changing attitudes about the role of fathers in child rearing. In 1970, only 1
percent of children lived with a single father. In 2002, about 5 percent of children under age 18
lived with their single fathers. Single fathers, however, are much more likely to be divorced than
never married and much more likely than single mothers to be sharing a home with an adult to
whom they are not married. For example, 33 percent of Caucasian children lived with fathers
who were unmarried but cohabiting with another adult. The rate was 29 percent for African-
American children, 30 percent for Asian/Pacific Islanders, and 46 percent for children of
Hispanic origin. It is clear that not all single-parent families are the same and that within
different ethnic and racial groups, the number and type of single-parent families varies

Single-parent families face special challenges. One of these is economic. In 2002, twice
as many single-parent families earned less than $30,000 per year compared to families with two
parents present. At the opposite end of the spectrum, 39 percent of two-parent families earned
more than $75,000 compared to 6 percent of single-mother families and 11 percent of single-
father families. Single-parent families are challenged in other ways. Children living with single
fathers were the least likely of all children to have health insurance coverage.

Social scientists have found that children growing up in single-parent families are
disadvantaged in other ways when compared to a two-biological-parent family. Many of these
problems are directly related to the poor economic condition of single-parent families, not just to
parenting style. These children are at risk for the following:
lower levels of educational achievement
twice as likely to drop out of school
more likely to become teen parents
more conflict with their parent(s)
less supervised by adults
more likely to become truants
more frequently abuse drugs and alcohol
more high-risk sexual behavior
more likely to join a gang
twice as likely to go to jail
four times as likely to need help for emotional and behavioral problems
more likely to participate in violent crime
more likely to commit suicide
twice as likely to get divorced in adulthood

Studies have also found that children who live in a two-parent family where one parent is
abusive or has a high level of antisocial behavior do not do as well as children whose parents
divorce if the child then lives in a single-parent family with the no abusive parent.

It is important to remember that every single-parent family is different. Children who are
living with a widowed mother will have a home life that is different from children with divorced
parents or those whose parents were never married. Children of divorced parents will have a
wide range of relationships with their parents and parents' partners depending on custody
arrangements and the commitment of the non-custodial parent to maintaining a relationship with
the child. Despite the fact that children from single-parent families often face a tougher time
economically and emotionally than children from two-biological-parent families, children from
single-parent families can grow up doing well in school and maintaining healthy behaviors and

Being a single parent can be hard and lonely. There is often no other adult with whom to
share decision-making, discipline, and financial responsibilities. The full burden of finding
responsible childcare, earning a living, and parenting falls on one individual. However, the lack
of a second parent often has a less negative impact on children than family instability, lack of
structure, and inconsistent enforcement of parental standards. Single parents may want to follow
these steps in order to create positive experiences for their children:

Find stable, safe child care.

Establish a home routine and stick to it.
Apply rules and discipline clearly and consistently.
Allow the child to be a child and not ask him or her to solve adult problems.
Get to know the important people (teachers, coaches, friends) in the child's life.
Answer questions about the other parent calmly and honestly.
Avoid behavior that causes the child to feel pressed to choose between divorced parents.
Explain financial limitations honestly.
D. How parenting affects the kids

Parenting style refers to the way in which parents choose to raise their children. The way
that people parent is an important factor in their children's socioemotional growth and
development. In her research, Diana Baumrind (1966) found what she considered to be the two
basic elements that help shape successful parenting: parental responsiveness and parental
demandingness. Through her studies, Baumrind identified three initial parenting styles:
authoritative parenting, authoritarian parenting, and permissive parenting. Maccoby and Martin
(1983) later expanded upon Baumrinds three original parenting styles by adding the uninvolved
or neglectful style, which has the most pervasive negative consequences across all domains.
While not every parent falls neatly into one category, these parenting styles generally correspond
with the type of discipline a parent chooses to use with his or her child or children.


Authoritative parenting is generally regarded as the most successful approach to

parenting because of its high level of involvement and balanced levels of control. Authoritative
parents set realistic expectations and consistent limits for their children, and provide them with
fair or natural consequences. Natural consequences are those that occur as a natural result of the
child's behavior (or lack of a particular behavior), with no intervention required; for example, if a
child touches a hot stove and is burned by the heat, the burn is a natural consequence.
Authoritative parent express warmth and affection, listen to their child's point of view, and
provide opportunities for independence. Parents set rules and explain the reasons behind them,
and they are also flexible and willing to make exceptions to the rules in certain casesfor
example, temporarily relaxing bedtime rules to allow for a nighttime swim during a family

Of the four parenting styles, the authoritative style is the one that is most encouraged in
modern American society. American children raised by authoritative parents tend to have high
self-esteem and social skills and work well with others. However, effective parenting styles vary
as a function of culture, and the authoritative style is not necessarily preferred or appropriate in
all cultures.


In the authoritarian style, parents put a high value on conformity and obedience. The
parents are often strict, tightly monitor their children, and express little warmth. These parents
exhibit a large amount of control over their child's decisions and behavior. Authoritarian parents
set rigid rules with firm consequences; in contrast to the authoritative style, authoritarian parents
probably would not relax bedtime rules during a vacation because they consider the rules to be
set, and they expect obedience at all times.

Children who grow up in authoritarian homes often become anxious or withdrawn or

suffer from self-esteem problems. Due to gender socialization, those raised as male may
experience anger problems, while those raised as female may become dependent upon others for
approval. Although these children may do poorly in school, they do not tend to engage in
antisocial behavior for fear of their parents' reaction. However, it is important to keep in mind
cultural differences: different cultures respond better to different parenting styles than others
(Russell, Crockett, & Chao, 2010). For instance, first-generation Chinese American children
raised by authoritarian parents did just as well in school as peers who were raised by
authoritative parents (Russell et al., 2010).


Permissive parenting tends to be warm and loving but lacks follow-through on setting
limits or rules. Permissive parents tend to be overindulgent, make few demands, rarely use
punishment, and allow their children to make their own decisions, regardless of the
consequences. They tend to be very nurturing and loving and may play the role of friend rather
than parent. These parents might be caught up in their own lives and therefore inattentive
(although not neglectful) and exhibit little control over their children.

Children raised by permissive parents tend to lack self-discipline, and the permissive
parenting style is negatively associated with grades (Dornbusch, Ritter, Leiderman, Roberts, &
Fraleigh, 1987). The permissive style may also contribute to other risky or impulsive behaviors
such as alcohol abuse (Bahr & Hoffman, 2010), risky sexual behavior, especially among female
children (Donenberg, Wilson, Emerson, & Bryant, 2002), and increased display of disruptive
behaviors by male children (Parent et al., 2011). However, there are some positive outcomes
associated with children raised by permissive parents: many tend to have higher self-esteem,
better social skills, and report lower levels of depression (Darling, 1999).


With the uninvolved style of parenting, the parents are indifferent and sometimes referred
to as neglectful. They dont respond to their childs needs and make relatively few demands.
This could be because of severe depression, substance abuse, or other factors such as the parents
extreme focus on work. Neglectful parents may look to their children for support and guidance,
and these children often end up "parenting their parents." These parents may provide for the
childs basic needs, but little else; in more extreme forms of neglect, basic needs may not be
cared for at all or children may be placed in harmful situations.

These children, much like those raised in permissive homes, tend to have myriad
problems, but often the problems are often much more serious. Children raised in this parenting
style are usually emotionally withdrawn, fearful, and anxious; perform poorly in school; and are
at an increased risk of substance abuse (Darling, 1999).

E. Notable family legacies across the country

No matter who we are, where we live, or what our goals may be, we all have one thing in
common: a heritage. That is, a social, emotional and spiritual legacy passed on from parent to
child. Every one of us is passed a heritage, lives out a heritage, and gives a heritage to our
family. It's not an option. Parents always pass to their children a legacy good, bad or some of

A spiritual, emotional and social legacy is like a three-stranded cord. Individually, each
strand cannot hold much weight. But wrapped together, they are strong. That's why passing on a
positive, affirming legacy is so important and why a negative legacy can be so destructive. The
good news is that you, with God's help, can decide to pass a positive legacy on to your children
whether you received one or not.

Today, if we don't intentionally pass a legacy consistent with our beliefs to our children,
our culture will pass along its own, often leading to a negative end. It is important to remember
that passing on a spiritual, emotional and social legacy is a process, not an event. As parents, we
are responsible for the process. God is responsible for the product. We cannot do God's job, and
He won't do ours.

The Emotional Legacy

In order to prosper, our children need an enduring sense of security and stability nurtured
in an environment of safety and love.

Sadly, many of us struggle to overcome a negative emotional legacy that hinders our
ability to cope with the inevitable struggles of life. But imagine yourself giving warm family
memories to your child. You can create an atmosphere that provides a child's fragile spirit with
the nourishment and support needed for healthy emotional growth. It will require time and
consistency to develop a sense of emotional wholeness, but the rewards are great.

A strong emotional legacy:

Provides a safe environment in which deep emotional roots can grow.

Fosters confidence through stability.
Conveys a tone of trusting support.
Nurtures a strong sense of positive identity.
Creates a resting place for the soul.
Demonstrates unconditional love.

Which characteristics would you like to build into the legacy you pass along to your children?
Even if you don't hit the exact mark, setting up the right target is an important first step.

The Social Legacy

To really succeed in life, our children need to learn more than management techniques,
accounting, reading, writing and geometry. They need to learn the fine art of relating to people.
If they learn how to relate well to others, they'll have an edge in the game of life.

In order to prosper, our children need to gain the insights and social skills necessary to
cultivate healthy, stable relationships. As children mature, they must learn to relate to family
members, teachers, peers and friends. Eventually they must learn to relate to coworkers and
many other types of people such as salespeople, bankers, mechanics and bosses.

Nowhere can appropriate social interaction and relationships be demonstrated more

effectively than in the home. At home, you learned and your children will learn lessons
about respect, courtesy, love and involvement. Our modeling as parents plays a key role in
passing on a strong social legacy.

Key building blocks of children's social legacy include:

Respect, beginning with themselves and working out to other people.

Responsibility, fostered by respect for themselves, that is cultivated by assigning children
duties within the family, making them accountable for their actions, and giving them
room to make wrong choices once in a while.
Unconditional love and acceptance by their parents, combined with conditional
acceptance when the parents discipline for bad behavior or actions.
The setting of social boundaries concerning how to relate to God, authority, peers, the
environment and siblings.
Rules that are given within a loving relationship

The Spiritual Legacy

The Spiritual Legacy is overlooked by many, but that's a mistake. As spiritual beings, we
adopt attitudes and beliefs about spiritual matters from one source or another. As parents, we
need to take the initiative and present our faith to our children.

Parents who successfully pass along a spiritual legacy to their children model and
reinforce the unseen realities of the godly life. We must recognize that passing a spiritual legacy
means more than encouraging our children to attend church, as important as that is. The church is
there to support parents in raising their children but it cannot do the raising; only parents can.

The same principle applies to spiritual matters. Parents are primary in spiritual upbringing,
not secondary. This is especially true when considering that children, particularly young
children, perceive religion the way they perceive their parents. If their parents are loving,
affirming, forgiving and yet strong in what they believe, children will think of God that way. He
is someone who cares, who is principled and who loves them above all else.

F. Learning patterns and behaviors throughout time

In a recent poll of adult Americans conducted by The Wall Street Journal, "moral decline"
was stated to be the biggest problem that America will face in the next twenty years. And when
asked what the biggest change in American character has been since the 1950s, the leading
answer was "less stable marriages and families." I agree with these popular assessments and
believe that the two issues are closely related. The available empirical evidence indicates that
deterioration of stable marriages and families has been a principal generator of moral decline.
This is because children learn moral values mainly within their families, and mainly by relying
on their parents as role models. When families are unstable, when parents are absent,
emotionally distant, or preoccupied, or when parents themselves are immoral, the learning of
moral values by children is greatly hindered.


Everything we know about human behavior suggests that the family is the institution in
which most children learn about character and morality. The schools, the churches, and the law
can all help in the process of character development, but they have much less independent force
of their own. Their main function is to reinforce what has already been taught in the home. If
morality and character are not taught in the home, other institutions cannot be relied on to undo
the damage. That is why the quality of family life is so important, and why the family is society's
most fundamental institution.

How Children Learn Moral Values and Develop Character

Within the family, there are three key processes by which children learn character and
morality: forming emotional attachments, being taught prosocial behavior, and learning respect
for authority and compliance with rules. All teaching of right and wrong begins with attachment-
-the warm, emotional tie that children have with their parents. Children learn from and are
influenced most by those persons who are most meaningful to them, and the most meaningful
adults are those to whom the child is emotionally attached. If a child does not have a strong
emotional attachment to a parent, the effectiveness of the parent as a teacher and moral guide is
greatly diminished. As social psychologist Willard W. Hartup has concluded, "A child's
effectiveness in dealing with the social world emerges largely from experience in close

Social psychologist William Damon puts the issue forcefully: "the child's respect for this
authority is the single most important moral legacy that comes out of the child's relationship with
the parent." Character traits based on respect for authority and social rules, such as honesty,
cooperation, responsibility, and self-reliance, are learned first within the family sphere. If learned
well, these traits are then transferred beyond the family to dealings with society at large.

Family Structure and Time

The children have frequent interaction with relatives, with neighbors in a supportive
neighborhood, and with their parents' world of work, coupled with no pervasive worry that their
parents will break up. The family develops a vibrant family subculture that provides a rich legacy
of meaning for children throughout their lives. Should be an enduring, two-biological-parent
family that engages regularly in activities together, has many of its own routines, traditions and
stories, and provides a great deal of contact between adults and children.
Time spent with children--quantity time--is arguably the central ingredient of the good
family. There is surely a strong correlation between the amount of time parents spend with their
children, and the adult character of those children.

What to do?

What can we, as a society, do to remedy this situation? Fundamentally, as parents, we

must find ways to spend more time with our children. This may require working fewer hours and
"voluntary simplicity" for those who can afford it; turning off the TV set; finding employment in
firms that have family-friendly policies, such as flexible work hours; holding off having children
until one can afford them; and living in areas where the cost of living is lower. Life is long and
the childrearing years are short, and it is unconscionable that in this age of affluence so many of
our children are left hanging out to dry. Children are our future. In the recent Wall Street Journal
poll, when asked the question, "What ways do you think the American character is going to
change in the twenty-first century," only 20% of young adults answered "more importance
placed on marriage and children." If the other 80% are right, if more importance is not placed on
marriage and children, I suggest that this nation's future is in considerable peril.

G. Kids expectations of parents

Put your phone away when Im talking to you. Dont text while youre driving not
even at red lights. Stop posting photos of me without my permission.

These are some of the rules for Internet and smartphone use that kids would set for their
parents, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Washington and University
of Michigan.

The researchers surveyed 249 families with children between the ages of 10 and 17 about
their households most important technology rules and expectations, as well as what made those
rules easier or harder to follow.

The paper which is among the first to explore childrens expectations for parents
technology use was presented March 2 at the Association for Computing Machinerys
conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing in San Francisco.
The surveys revealed kids feelings about fairness and oversharing, the most effective types of
technology rules and families most common approaches.

Managing kids technology use was once much easier for parents they switched off
the television when a show was over or kept an eye on kids as they used the family computer in
the living room, said lead author Alexis Hiniker, a UW doctoral student in Human Centered
Design and Engineering. But now that so many family members have phones with them at all
times, its become harder and harder to set those boundaries.
When researchers asked kids what technology rules they wished their parents would follow a
less common line of inquiry the answers fell into seven general categories:

Be present Children felt there should be no technology at all in certain situations, such
as when a child is trying to talk to a parent
Child autonomy Parents should allow children to make their own decisions about
technology use without interference
Moderate use Parents should use technology in moderation and in balance with other
Supervise children Parents should establish and enforce technology-related rules for
childrens own protection
Not while driving Parents should not text while driving or sitting at a traffic light
No hypocrisy Parents should practice what they preach, such as staying off the
Internet at mealtimes
No oversharing Parents shouldnt share information online about their children
without explicit permission

The child would expect different things that would suit their needs and thus, it is dependent
on the child himself/herself. However, it is expected that parents would give their child moral
support and a place where they could call it home throughout the child's life while they are still
growing and when they are already fully grown as long as they live. Here are some examples!

Child (1-4 years)

They would expect the adults to do pretty much everything for them. Examples include
giving them a shower, proper clothing and comfort.

Child (5-13 years)

There is an only a certain degree of need for the child but there is a higher degree for
wants. Some of the wants would include the new game on their Gaming Platforms and
new trending clothing. The child's expectation of their parents would be significantly
lower than before. However, parents should remember that they play a huge part in
finding their child's identity and are expected by the child to do so.

Child (14-18 years)

They are capable of pretty much anything that adults could do and already has their own
identity or are on their way to complete their identity. They would expect their parents to
be a mental pillar/ pillars that supports the child both emotionally and physically and to
have an impression that the parents would be there whenever the child needs help, as long
as they live.

From that point on, he/she is considered to be an Adult, who are expected to make their
own choices and have follow-ups to their choices in life. It is also important to note that
the expectations of their parents would not go down much further as the 'child' can
always return to their parents and expects their parents to help them out in times of need.