The Psychological Effects of a Single Parent Family

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Very few people become single parents intentionally, but when tragedy strikes in the form of divorce, illness, or accident, what was once unthinkable becomes a reality. Single parents must make up the entire income and give all the nurturing to their children, and are people who should be respected and commended at all times. That said, single parenthood is a difficult situation for children. Some may come out of it just fine, such as the case of President Obama, while others may fall through the cracks. Here is a look at some of the common difficulties that children of single parents may have:

Lack of Positive Relationship Models
Many people model the kind of relationships that their parents had. In cases where people were supportive of one another, that becomes the default for their children when they find themselves in their own long-term relationships. However, children of single parents may not get to watch this dynamic and learn it. Since the brain processes story like social interaction, they may use the relationships they see on television as models instead. Since ratings reward couples with terrible fights, infidelity and selfish members that heighten drama, that becomes the template for the children of some single parents.

Difficulty Connecting with Adults
Many single parents must both work and raise their children. In some cases, they must work multiple jobs to make ends meet, and this can mean that their children rarely get to see their parents and connect with them socially. Their provider role outweighs their nurturing role, which will create a distance between the parent and the children, and can shift the way a child interacts with other adults of authority. Depending on the personality of the child, this may create a child who is socially isolated, or it may create an overreliance on the opinions of peers. If a child is overly concerned with peer opinion over parental opinion, that increases the risk of teen rebellion behaviors.

Responsibility Burdens
Many children of single parents must take up a larger share of the household responsibility than their peers. In some cases, this leads to a darker view of the world, and a lack of optimism. In others, it leads to a strong work ethic, and an appreciation for everything that child has. Much of the reason for this is linked to the way in which these duties are portrayed, which comes from the parent. If the parent continues to frame things in gratitude and mutual responsibilities, that is how the child will view things. If the parent blames the missing other parent or other things in their life for the difficulties they face, the child will also begin to view the world as if they were a victim.

Cite this page: N., Sam M.S., "The Psychological Effects of a Single Parent Family," in, January 9, 2016, (accessed August 11, 2022).