A Comparison of Children Living in Single-Mother and Single-Father Families

Journal of divorce 03/1989; 12(2-3):169-184. DOI: 10.1300/J279v12n02_09


Research comparing children living in single-mother and single-father families has become important due to the increase in the number of parents contesting custody in divorce cases and as the number of single custodial fathers increases. The present study was designed to investigate a number of characteristics relating to children living in single-father families (SFFs) and in single-mother families (SMFs). Previous research has suggested that in the case of separation and/or divorce the mother is the more competent parent to raise the children. However, recent studies have provided some support for the idea that single fathers can be effective single parents. The subject sample included 42 single divorced custodial parents (21 single mothers and 21 single fathers) and their 62 (6- to 16-year-old) children. The measures employed were The Self-Perception Profile for Children (SPPC; Harter, 1985) and The Child Behaviour Checklist (CBCL; Achenbach & Edelbrock, 1983). One-way MANCOVA and ANCOVA procedures were performed and it was found that the overall scores of children from single-father families (SFFs) did not differ significantly from children in single-mother families (SMFs) on the SPPC and the CBCL. The implications of these findings are discussed and suggestions for future research are provided.

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    • "Some researchers claimed that children in father-led homes did better academically since fathers had greater economic resources and could provide better schools and more educational materials such as computers and encyclopedias (Downey, 1994; Hetherington & Stanley-Hagan, 1997; McLanahan & Sandefur, 1994). Other researchers argued that the academic achievement of children from mother-led and father-led families did not differ dramatically (Downey, 1994; Schnayer & Orr, 1989). "
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    ABSTRACT: Includes bibliographical references.
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    ABSTRACT: After years of neglect by researchers, therapists, and lawmakers, interest in fathering has come to the forefront. One group of fathers, those raising their children alone following separa- tion or divorce, has more than tripled in the period between 1970 and 1990 according to the Census Bureau. The literature on single custo- dial fathers, a population that was virtually unstudied until the 1970s, is based on both large and small samples. Comparison groups con- sisting of fathers without custody, fathers in joint custody arrange- ments, married fathers, widowers, and mothers with custody have been employed to further understand single father families. The research shows this lifestyle to be a viable one despite the role ambiguity associated with it. Particular areas of difficulties for these fathers are balancing work and child care, reestablishing a social life, and interacting with the court system. Fathers who choose the role tend to have an easier time than those who are forced into it. This article provides an overview of the topic and discusses the policy, practice, education, and research implications that the literature raises.
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    ABSTRACT: Parental discipline and gender-role socialization are two interrelated normative processes that may be affected by family structure, parent gender, and child gender. To investigate these family processes and how they may differ depending on family composition, three groups of families (approximately 90% Caucasian) with 5-year-old children were studied: 67 two-parent families, 32 single-mother families, and 13 single-father families. In the two-parent families, mothers were focused on in 33 of the families and fathers were focused on in 34 of the families. Overall, gender-role socialization processes were affected by family structure and parent gender: Single-parent families and mothers had less traditional gender-role socialization than two-parent families and fathers. Family discipline processes were also affected by family structure, as single-parent families reported more positive behavior from their children and reported using more problem-solving strategies. Regardless of family structure, parents used different discipline strategies depending on the gender of parent and child. No evidence was found to suggest that gender-role socialization mediated the discipline process.
    No preview · Article · Jan 1997 · Sex Roles
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