Comparison of Role Demands, Relationships, and Child Functioning in Single-Mother, Single-Father, and Intact Families

Journal of Divorce & Remarriage 10/2001; 35:29-56. DOI: 10.1300/J087v35n01_02

ABSTRACT Numerous studies have examined the impact of divorce on parents and children, but most of these studies have been restricted to single-mother families. This study compared differences in role demands, relationships, and child functioning using the responses of parents and children in 30 single-mother, 30 single-father, and 30 intact families. Single fathers had better resources than single mothers, more positive parenting than married fathers, and relied more on friends than the married parents. Single mothers had less education, less prestigious jobs, lower incomes, and more economic strain than the other parents. They also had fewer social resources and more difficulty than married parents with the parenting role. Despite these disadvantages of single mother families, children in these families were no different than children in other families on most measures of well-being. The only problem that was identified in the functioning of children from single-parent families was with their behavior. These findings can be used to develop strategies to reduce risks and enhance the existing resources and strengths of single-parent families.