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Sociology 1A06 Final essay.docx

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Department
Sociology
Course
SOCIOL 1A06
Professor
Sandra Colavecchia
Semester
Summer

Description
S i n g l e - P a r e n t F a m i l i e s a n d t h e E f f e c t o n C h i l d r e n P a g e | 1 Single-Parent Families and the Effect on Children McMaster University Sociology 1A06E Dr. Sandra Colavecchia T.A.:Mansanga Tanga Connor Prebianca #: 1155946 S i n g l e - P a r e n t F a m i l i e s a n d t h e E f f e c t o n C h i l d r e n P a g e | 2 Contents Articles............................................................................................................................................ 3 Introduction..................................................................................................................................... 4 Methodological Approaches........................................................................................................... 4 Central Questions............................................................................................................................ 6 Central Findings.............................................................................................................................. 7 Conclusion/Future Research......................................................................................................... 11 References..................................................................................................................................... 12 S i n g l e - P a r e n t F a m i l i e s a n d t h e E f f e c t o n C h i l d r e n P a g e | 3 Articles Brandwein, R., Brown, C., Fox, E. (1974). Women and Children Last: The Social Situation of Divorced Mothers and Their Families. Journal of Marriage and Family. 36, 498-514. Website: http://www.jstor.org/stable/350721. DeBell, Matthew (2007). Children living without their fathers: population estimates and indicators of educational well-being. Social Indicators Research. 87, 427-443. doi: 10.1007/s11205-007-9149-8 Gongla, Patricia A. (1982). Single parent families: a look at families of mothers and children. Marriage and Family Review, 5, 5-27. doi: 10.1300/J002v05n02_02 Heard, Holly E. (2007). Fathers, mothers, and family structure: family trajectories, parent gender, and adolescent schooling. Journal of Marriage and Families, 69, 435-450. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2007.00375.x Mullins, David F. (2010). Linkages between children’s behavior and non-resident father involvement: a comparison of African American, Anglo, and Latino families. Journal of African American Studies, 15, 1-21. doi: 10.1007/s12111-010-9119-0 S i n g l e - P a r e n t F a m i l i e s a n d t h e E f f e c t o n C h i l d r e n P a g e | 4 Introduction Society tends to have pre-conceived ideas about what the effects on children living in single-parent families will be. These ideas may be true, but are not always factual and can be skewed by outside sources, such as the media. For example, it is suggested that children are better off in single-parent homes than in a duo-parent homes filled with stresses (Gongla, 1982, p. 8). Despite this suggestion and other assumptions, there are many other major effects on children when a parent is absent from the home. It is found that there are differences found in the effects on children’s behaviour and achievement depending on which parent is absent from the household (Heard, 2007, p. 436). Additionally, there was research done on the educational outcomes and achievement of children that showed effects when they were living in single- parent families (DeBell, 2007, p. 428; Heard, 2007, p. 435). The purpose of this essay is to compare and contrast the research of the five articles listed on the previous page. These articles are all closely related to the main topic, but ask different questions and make findings differently than one another. Methodological Approach Among the five articles chosen for this essay, one main methodological approach is used throughout all of them - secondary sources. The authors used previous research, cited them, and used them in their own research. Works such as the Parent and Family Involvement in Education Survey of the National Household Education Surveys Program of 2003 (DeBell, 2007, p. 430), the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Heard. 2007, p. 448), and National Survey of America’s Families (Mullins, 2010, p.8) are used. Data has been taken from studies S i n g l e - P a r e n t F a m i l i e s a n d t h e E f f e c t o n C h i l d r e n P a g e | 5 and surveys like these, analyzed, and put into a more understandable form that is relevant to the current research being done. One of the issues with using secondary sources is that the researcher can be selective with the data he/she decides to use. They can choose to use only certain findings of the study that support their thesis instead all the research of that study, which might include work that counters their thesis. Since the five articles used for this essay are peer-reviewed, it can be assumed that the authors have not selected biased information and that all the information is accurate and not skewed. Within secondary sources, the authors use certain forms of data analysis to get more specific results that highlight certain aspects of the secondary sources that they used. Simple and complex mathematical methods are used to show and explain data. In Matthew DeBell’s research, simple arithmetic, such as addition and division, was used to find sex, ethnicity, income, and many other demographic totals and percentages (2007, p. 431), but then he used multivariable regression analyses to show whether children in specific conditions were healthy or not (2007, p.434). Another form of data analysis was used by David F. Mullins - weighted standard deviation (2010, p. 9). He used this method to show the differences of non-resident father involvement within different demographic and social circumstances (Mullins, 2010, p. 10). This method is very useful as it directly shows what is more common and less common among the demographic and social categories. As you can see, the main use of research done by the authors was based off of secondary sources. Mathematical methods were used to communicate the data in a more effective and efficient way. We can trust that the information is not biased as it is peer-reviewed. S i n g l e - P a r e n t F a m i l i e s a n d t h e E f f e c t o n C h i l d r e n P a g e | 6 Central Questions Throughout the five articles, there are three central questions that rise up specifically pertaining to the effects on children when they live in single parent families. These questions are quite particular and will need explanation. The first question asks how a child is affected when the biological father is not living with the family and if it is related to the child’s overall well- being (DeBell, 2007, p.428). Mullins proposes that instead of actual family structure affecting the child’s well-being, the children are more influenced by the quality of the home situation that they are in (2010, p. 3). Brandwein, Brown, and Fox suggest that, again, it is not the family structure that affects a child’s well-being, but it’s actually the economic state that the mother is left in after the father leaves (1974, p. 502). These articles by DeBell, Mullins, and Brandwein et al. find a central theme in asking a very good question. The well-being of a child in a father- absent family can be affected in many ways, it goes beyond just the fact that the father isn’t there. Many reasons such as economic circumstance, time-management, stress, and support may all attribute to a potential negative quality of life for a child after the father has left. The second central question asks if having a mother absent from the home has the same or different effects on children then the father being absent from the home (Heard, 2007, p. 436). Though not completely proven, Gongla’s research surprisingly suggests that single fathers generally have better parenting practices than single mothers (1982, p. 10). Brandwein et al. refutes this by stating that no matter which parent leaves the home, the parent left with the child(ren) suffers economically and that in turn has negative effects on the child(ren) in a major way (1974, p. 502). This statement may be true, but there are many other factors besides from S i n g l e - P a r e n t F a m i l i e s a n d t h e E f f e c t o n C h i l d r e n P a g e | 7 just the income of a single parent, whether male or female, that can affect a child. Though the suggestions made from these articles differ, they both relate to the second central being asked. The third central question that these articles asks is when living in a family with either a single-mother or single-father, what are the effects on the child(ren)’s education and educational achievements, and is there any parent gender differences (DeBell, 2007, p. 428; Heard, 2007, p. 435). There is also a difference in the suggestions and presuppositions amongst authors pertaining to this question as well. Heard suggests that single-mothered children fair better academically because of certain parenting techniques that mothers perform and are typically more naturally gifted with (2007, p. 437). DeBell refutes this by saying that in any other family situation a child will do better scholastically then if they’re in a single-mother home (2007, p. 428). There seems to be a societal assumption that mothers are more helpful to children than fathers when it comes to children’s educational requests, such as help with homework or volunteering at their the school (DeBell, 2007, p. 439). This leads people to assume again that children will be better educationally if left with their mothers after the parents split up. That assumption might not be based off the full circumstances that surround a mother after a break up though. Factors such as extra work hours, transporting her other children to activities without help, and loss of rest may contribute to a mother spending much less educationally-related time with their child(ren) after a divorce. Central Findings There are many central findings across the five articles that were found in relation to the central questions asked in the previou
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