At the same time, children being raised in single-parent families has doubled. Statistically, by the age of 18, over 50% of children in the U.S. are going to spend a portion of their childhood in a single-parent home. These numbers, experts say, make it crucial that we understand how the changes in the structure of the family influence many areas of children's lives, including educational outcomes (Schneider, Atteberry, & Owens, Family structure and children's educational outcomes, 2005).
And, again, the results of studies in this specific area indicate that, taking into account any other external factors, when it comes to achievement in an educational setting, children living with their own married parents do significantly better than other children. The influences that family structure and support can have are so strong they can counter the negative forces of social status or cultural background. It is established by study after study that what the parents do in the home provides the opportunity for academic success for the child, and not the family's background. Parents who give the child stimulation and support make the difference (Net industries (2), 2010)
And there are reasons that two-parent families form a better backbone for academic and other successes for the child than single-parent families. Without going into all the details of the research, the idea is that the absence of one parent is usually associated with less time spent with a child and less parent involvement. This, then, on average, results in less positive outcomes at school. From an economic perspective as well, the suggestion is made that the financial hardship in a single-parent family is most likely to require teenagers to work, in addition to going to school. They also must take more responsibility for younger siblings. And, as a result, these activities not only lead to exhausting them in addition to their schoolwork, but lead to lower achievement levels at school (Net industries (2), 2010).
It is interesting to note that, even at the college level, for children who are raised without married parents, college attendance rates are lower, and they tend to be selected for less competitive colleges and universities. Research has even indicated that young women who grow up with their own married parents tend to marry later. And there is a link between delayed marriage and a higher level of educational achievement (Schneider, Atteberry, & Owens, Family structure and children's educational outcomes, 2005).
Amato (2005) in The Future of Children, computed some statistics concerning the solidarity of the family structure in 2005 vs. 1970. He found that if the U.S. family structure was as strong today as it was then:
643,000 fewer children each year would fail a grade at school
1,040,000 fewer children each year would be suspended from school
179,000 fewer children each year would consider suicide
71,000 fewer children each year would attempt suicide
Startling numbers that only reinforce what all of the research shows. Educational attainment, self-esteem, and many other factors are heavily influenced by family structure. (Jeynes, 2002)
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Schneider, B., Atteberry, A., & Owens, A. (2005, November). Family structure and children's educational outcomes. Retrieved March 28, 2010, from Americanvalues.org: http://www.americanvalues.org/briefs/edoutcomes.htm
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