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The Real and Imagined Consequences of Single Parenting

There was a young man that was raised by a single mother who struggled to find his place in the world.  He had dyslexia, moved around a lot and had trouble fitting in.  With so much against him, one would suppose he turned to a life of crime, right?  Wrong!  The boy was Tom Cruise, and he is one of the most famous celebrity faces in the world today.  For him, the consequences of single parenting were less than tragic. He is not alone.  Ray Charles, CBSTV News Correspondent and co-editor of ‘ 60 Minutes,’ Ed Bradley, and Former White House Chief of Staff and Secretary of State, Alexander Haig, were all raised in single parent homes.  On the flipside, Michael Jackson had two parents but his home was so dysfunctional, it caused him to wrestle with self-esteem issues till his death.  Yet, there still seems to persist the perception that kids from single parent homes are doomed to be failures, while children from two parent homes will go on to be the shining superstars of the future.  While it cannot be denied that having two parents can enable children to have a more solid and stable home foundation, the consequences of single parenting may not be as apocalyptic as people try to assert. Love is the Answer The idea that the child of a single parent will automatically pull the loser card has many origins, one of which is religious.  However, society is a complex entity—to say that the simple dynamic of a lone parent is enough to cause problems in or out of the home is a bit reactionary. It also penalizes a loving single parent who may be placed in the position through no fault of their own, such as in the death of a spouse.  Are they to be put in the category of “parent to a potential criminal” simply because they have to raise their child alone? Admittedly, the stress of raising a child by oneself can lead to fairly common consequences of single parenting, like emotional detachment from their offspring.  Single parents of kids also tend to suffer more from depression, which, in many cases, transfer to their children.  However, truth be told, single parents do not corner the market on depression or dysfunction, and a kid can be damaged by physical, sexual and emotional abuse just as easily in a supposed “good home” as in a poor one with as single parent. In the end, the love, support and attention a single parent can give to child will make all the difference in their development.  While they may not have the same stability as a two-parent home, they may beat some out in this regard. Focus on the Child The consequences of single parenting may be greater than those of two parent homes, but this does not mean a child from such a single parent home is destined for the slammer. In fact, if one takes Barrack Obama as an example, the child can become president of the United States.    We can get a clearer picture of what this means when concentration is taken away from single parent homes to studies on two parents homes, which have their own complex, dysfunctional dynamics.  Until then, we may not be able to honestly answer what the true consequences of single parenting are.

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