Single Parent Myths Uncovered

Myth: Children in single-parent families always have deficits, do poorly in school and suffer emotionally and behaviorally.

Limited data fueled Dan Quayle's attack on Murphy Brown, mainly sourced from sociologist Barbara Whitehead. Her negative conclusions about the outcomes of children from single-parent families selectively ignored all the data that contradicted her position, according to several other researchers. (Richards and Smiege, 1993.)

The oft-quoted 10-year study of Judith S. Wallerstein used tainted search subjects "... drawn largely from children in treatment for psychological disorders or from the wards of the criminal justice system." (Olsen and Haynes, 1993.) No wonder the outcomes were dismal 10 years later.

Of course, statistical studies are never appropriate to predict outcomes. Children of single parents are neither doomed nor reprieved from doom. Somehow we have this mythology of their inherent disadvantage. This disadvantage does not exist.

Myth: Single-parent families are "broken homes."

In the television series, "Grace Under Fire," a recent episode showed Grace, a single mom, protesting hotly, "My home is not a broken home. When I got a divorce, I fixed it!"

Many single parents who divorced or didn't marry made the healthiest choice in creating a peaceful and stable home for their family.

Many well-researched studies document positive outcomes in single-parent families. "Single parenting develops the parent's independence and ability to handle a variety of situations." (Shaw, 1991.) "Children benefit from increased levels of responsibility." (Amata, 1987) "Parental- and child-health outcomes were related to larger networks of social support and good communication within the single-parent family." (Hanson, 1986.)

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