Multiple Chapters: Parenting on the Academic Achievement

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[. . .] One would suspect that in larger families headed by a single female parent that the boys would have less intimate relationships with their mother than the girls leading to more difficulties with their development. Thus, it appears as if many of the factors identified in the literature are potentially modifiable.

Downey, Ainsworth-Darnell, and Dufur (1998) discussed individualistic vs. structuralist standpoints of gender as they apply to single-parent homes. Individualistic theories view the gender of the parent as being an important factor for the relationship with the child due to biological sex differences, whereas structuralists claim that sex roles develop as a result of the social context. Downey et al. argue that the structuralist position is more valid by demonstrating that single parent men and women behave similarly. However, qualitative research such as that from Balcom (1998) indicted that many males with single mothers as parents experience difficulty developing self-esteem, forming lasting emotional attachments, and recognizing their feelings. Balcom suggests a rekindling of the father-son relationship via therapy as a method of helping these children. Perhaps a similar method would help females from single-parent families.

How Expectations May Play a Role.

An interesting application of the limited resources notion is that of social dominance theory that states that single-parent families have lower social status and therefore fewer economic resources than intact families. Thus these families face greater social and institutional discrimination which leads to poor academic performance in the children (Van Laar & Sidanius, 2001). But the most interesting factor is the expectation factor of this theory, much like the Rosenthau effect. Van Laar and Sidanius observed a tendency of such members of these low-status groups to behave in a manner that is consistent with negative stereotypes. Hetherington, Camara, and Featherman (1983) had previously found that when students who are expected to perform more poorly perform well they receive negative attention from their teachers and are pressured to lower their academic performance. This is an interesting concept that could be followed up in much more detail.

The Current Study.

Single parent families are a reality and there is a large body of empirical evidence documenting the disadvantages of children raised in single-parent homes. These disadvantages include areas of academic achievement such as a these children having a higher probability of lower overall GPA scores, poorer rates of graduation from high school, poorer rates of college attendance as well as other disadvantages such as increased risk for drug abuse. However, despite the research findings there are many children from single-parent families that do well academically.

The purpose of this study is to show that children from single parent homes are at a greater risk academically, than children from a two-parent household. Research on the impact of single parenting to children has followed one of two models: the Family Deficit Model or the Risk and Protective Factor Model (Donahoo, 2003). Research has also shown that single parenting has an adverse effect on a child's development in the classroom. According to Mulkey et al. (1992), among children in single-parent families, those from mother-absent households earn lower science grades than children from father-absent homes; and no matter which parent is missing, children from single-parent families generally find it more difficult to connect with school. Students who regard their parents as warm, firm, and involved in their education earn better grades than their classmates with uninvolved parents (Deslandes, Royer & Turcottle, 1997).

Hypothesis (s)

There is a relationship between single parenting, as measure by having the person state whether they are a single parent or not and academic achievement, as measured by the use of the GPA of the children.

References

Astone, N.M., & McLanahan, S.S. (1991). Family structure, parental practices, and high school completion. American Sociological Review, 56(3), 309-320.

Balcom, D. (1998). Absent fathers: Effects on abandoned sons. Journal of Men's Studies, 6(3),

283-290.

Bornstein, M. (Ed.) (1995). Handbook of parenting, Vol 3, Status and social condition of parenting. NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Brubeck, D., & Beer J. (1992). Depression, self-esteem, suicide ideation, death Anxiety, and GPA in high school students of divorced and non-divorced parents. Psychological Reports, 71, 755-763.

Chase-Lansdale, P.L., Cherlin, A.J., & Kiernan, K.K. (1995). The long-term effects of parental divorce on the mental health of young adults: A developmental perspective. Child Development, 66(6), 1614-1634.

Deslandes, R. Royer, E. & Turcotte, D. (1997). School achievement at the secondary level: Influence of parenting style and parent involvement in schooling. McGill Journal of Education, 32, 191-207.

Donahoo, S. (2003) Single Parenting and Children's Academic Achievement. National Parent Information Network. Available at [http://npin.org/pnews/2003/pnew303/int303a.html]. Accessed [06/11/03].

Downey, D. (1994). The school performance of children from single-mother and single-father families: Economic or interpersonal deprivation? Journal of Family Issues, 15, 129-

Downey, D., Ainsworth-Darnell, J., & Dufur, M. (1998) Sex of parent and children's well being in single-parent households. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 60, 878-893.

Hampden-Thompson, G. & Suet-Ling P. (2005). Does family policy environment moderate the effect of single parenthood on children's academic achievement? A study of 14 European countries. Journal of Comparative Family Studies 36, 227-248.

Hetherington, E., Camara, K., & Featherman, D. (1983). Achievement and intellectual functioning of children in one-parent households. In J. Spence. (Ed.), Achievement and achievement motives: Psychological and sociological approaches (pp. 205-284). San

Francisco: W.H. Freeman and Company.

Hetherington, M., & Stanley-Hagen, M.(1999). The adjustment of children with divorced parents: A risk and resiliency perspective. The Journal of Child Psychology, 40 (1), 129- 140.

Krein, S., & Beller, A. (1988). Educational attainment of children from single-parent families:

Differences by exposure, gender, and race. Demography, 25, 221-234.

Lambert, N.M. (1988). Adolescent outcomes for hyperactive children: Perspectives on general and specific patterns of childhood risk for adolescent educational, social and mental health problems. American Psychologist, 43, 786 -- 799.

Mandara, J., & Murray, C. (2006). Father's absence and African-American adolescent drug use. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 46, 1-12.

McLanahan, S. & Booth, K. (1991). Mother-only families. In J. Booth (Ed.), Contemporary families: Looking forward, looking back. Minneapolis: National Council on Family Relations.

Milne, A., Myers, D., Rosenthal, A., & Ginsburg, A. (1986) Single parents, working mothers, and the educational achievement of school children. Sociology of Education, 59, 125-

Mulkey, L.M., Crain, R.L. & Harrington, A.J.C. (1992). One-parent households and achievement: Economic and behavioral explanations of a small effect. Sociology of Education, 65(1), 48-65.

Nelson, J.L. (1992). Genetic narratives: Biology, stories and the definition of the family. Health Matrix 2(1), 71-83 .

Pong, S-L., Dronkers, J., & Hampden-Thompson, G. (2003). Family policies and children's school achievement in single -- versus two-parent families. Journal of Marriage and Family, 65, 681-699.

Sigle-Rushton, W., & McLanahan, S. (2004). Father absence and child well-being: A critical review. In D. Moynihan, T. Smeeding, & L. Rainwater (Eds.), The future of the family

(pp. 116-155). New York: Russell Sage… [END OF PREVIEW]

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