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General grade point averages, SAT scores, and school involvement tend to be lower than their peers coming from two parent homes (Park, 2008).
Lower collegiate attendance is also another major issue that is seen within this growing population. On average individuals coming out of single parent homes go to college less than their counterparts with both parents present (Huan, 2003). This is often associated with the poorer grades that were discussed earlier. However, it is also often tied to spending habits on education (Huan, 2003). Once again, this population is subject to lower income averages, which makes spending so much money on college a difficult endeavor. Moreover, there is another impact which tends to have a negative impact on numbers of children from single parent families going to college (Worth, 1992). According to the research, lower involvement of parents in creating dreams of children going to college (Stage & Hossler, 1989).
The various obstacles many children from single parent families face are seen on a global context. Although this study is testing data only prevalent within the context of the United States, the literature on the topic shows a clear pattern across multiple countries around the globe. Thus, such issues are present both here in the United States and abroad (Pong et al., 2003). In fact, this trend is common in many major Westernized nations. Nations including the UK, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Switzerland, too, suffer from the negative aspects of a rise in single parent families (Pong et al., 2003). This then makes the issue a global problem, adding more importance to research extrapolating causes and potential remedies.
There are also different types of single parent families that have uniquely varying issues associated with them more so than other types. Most single parent families are structured with single mothers heading the household. In fact, 82.6% of children living in single parent families lived only with their mothers (U.S. Department of Commerce, 2009). Thus, when research shows evidence of data patterns associated with single parent households, it is predominately relating to households dominated by a single mother. Even within this larger demographic, there are unique sub-categories. For example, "In the United States, evidence suggests that children from single-mother families due to the death of the father show similar levels of educational and occupational attainment compared to those from two-parent families, which are significantly higher than the levels of those from divorced single mother families," (Park, 2008, p 379).
Yet, fathers too often play the role of the single parent, just not as much as their female counterparts. Only about 17.4% of children in single parent families lived with their fathers as of 2007 (U.S. Department of Commerce, 2009). This is an incredibly lower percentage when compared to the single parent households dominated by mothers. However, single parent homes lead by fathers also tend to have their own unique issues that can cause negative affects on the children involved in the situation. Pong et al. (2003) states that "Single father families, however, exhibit more behavioral and academic problems than do children in either single mother or stepfamilies," (685). There are a unique set of characteristics that revolve around father centered households featuring only one parent. Most often, these can be associated with a traumatic loss of the mother, either through death or through rejection.
Single parent homes are increasing dramatically. One might think this would bring greater attention to the problems involved. However, contemporary research actually shows the opposite. In fact, the growth of the single family demographic is though to have negative impacts on policies and programs that could otherwise help those in such situations. Thus, "the growth in single parent families could reduce the tolerance and sympathy toward single parents, and subsequently trigger policy stringency," (Pong et al., 2003, p 689). This creates a situation where it is difficult to implement programs and policies that might actually benefit children of single parent families.
Setting and Demographic
The demographical group of single parent families is immensely large. This makes the study of it difficult. It is clear that "Single parent families are not a homogenous group," (Pong et al., 685). Most prove to be mother headed households in low income socio-economic roles. However, there are other varieties. This, it is important to structure methodological approaches based on what has proven successful in past research efforts.
Pong et al. (2003) studied the academic impact single parenting has on children and made some clear assumptions based on a successful methodological approach. Pong et al. (2003) made general assumptions based on prior literature regarding the negative impacts single parent families have on children's academic performances as a generalized group. They created a situation where they explored differences in academic achievement levels between children from single parent and two parent family homes (Pong et al., 2003). The study examined in industrialized nations, including the United States, Australia, Austria, Canada, England, Ireland, Iceland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, and Scotland. Its independent variables were the presence of either one or two parents, while its dependent variable was the actual level of academic achievement recorded through national database resources.
The methodology was successful in exploring the demographic. Pong et al. (2003) used 1995 population data from the Third International Math and Science Study to gather data about the demographic at hand. The study itself was based on the large breadth of already published information the source provided. It looked at third and fourth grade students. Additionally, it combined with nation by nation analysis of numbers of single parent families present in each nation. The random effect HLM model was used in correlation with other strategies to extrapolate patterns in the relationships present in the data (Pong et al., 2003). The study used regression analysis to examine current trends and make future predictions and included individual analysis of each nation.
After structuring the research with sound methodological principles, Pong et al. then moved to help work to find methods to rectify the situation. Pong et al. hypothesized that "different policy environments can influence the relationship between single parenthood and children's academic achievement by changing a family's disposable income and parental time units," (2003, p 687). OLS regression showed that adjusting average resources for single parent families could have the impact of changing academic performance in a positive way.
However, the study did leave open some major questions. It was limited to only industrialized countries (Pong et al., 2003). This left out non-industrialized and developing nations. Thus, the study presents cultural biases that only represent a portion of the actual global education. Pong et al. (2003) was also limited based on the broad assumptions it makes. It does not give a full clear picture of the situation as it was occurring in each of the nation it analyzed. Thus, it left out details that would have been more prevalent if the study had focused on one country alone.
Park (2008) also suggested using a successful methodology within the framework of his study. It actually examined a non-Western culture, Korea. Park (2008) also focused the analysis of the study on one culture in particular, in order to make more specific assumptions about the nation. However, Park's study provides more details about Korea that would have been lost in research examining multiple studies. There was previously little research had actually been conducted within non-Western nations regarding the affect of single parent families and academic achievement (Park, 2008). Thus, the study itself bridged a gap within the context of modern research regarding South Asian cultural and socio-economic patterns. This also allowed more detail examination of uniquely Korean social phenomena as it correlated with academic achievement levels of the nation's youth. The culture of Korea had been witnessing increasing changes in its traditional familial structures, (Park, 2008). High rates of divorce were changing the nature of the Korean family. However, also the larger role of the extended family in the social fabric of Korean cultures than seen in countries like the United States (Park, 2008). Moreover, Korean legal traditions tended to place custody of children in the homes of the fathers after a divorce (Park, 2008). Thus, the study was based on the presence of a strong patriarchal culture in the region. It examined a growing social phenomenon in order to better understand the contemporary effects that were correlated with it
Here, data was once again collected from published research of reliable sources. Park (2008) used information fathered by the Korean Education and Employment Panel. The study also employed stratified cluster sampling in order to choose the data most appropriate (Park, 2008). Park examined 9th grade, 12th grade, and vocational students. The following tables show his findings.
Table 3. Percentages of Familial Structure (Park, 2008).
Park (2008) also examined whether children wanted to go on to a four-year university. Thus, he gave a rating system in order to statistically analyze…[continue]
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