Does Single Parenting Negatively Influence Academic Achievement?

Single parenting might negatively influence academic achievement in that when you are a single parent, you are doing the work usually allocated to two people 2. This means less time, as a parent, to check papers from school, help your child practice spelling, and also attend school functions. However, marriage does not always improve student grades, and can even have a negative impact. Students whose families are in transition may score lower than students in a stable single parent home 3.

Single Parents Can Raise Successful Students

Studies such as "Academic Achievement of Children in Single Parent Homes: A Critical Review" by Mark S. Barajas in The Hilltop Review, indicates that children in single parent homes statistically have lower academic achievement and may have difficulty forming attachments 12. However, this same study indicated that despite overall statistics, that 70 percent of children from single-parent homes graduate from high school, and that 50 percent of them attend college. The low academic scores were attributed to economic challenges and time constraints.

Society and the Single Parent

Nancy E. Dowd, in her book, “In Defense of the Single-Parent Families," argues that the statistics presented against single families reflect social prejudice 3. She adds that the number of caregivers in a household is less significant than the focus given to child needs and development. Furthermore, she adds, many two-parent families function as a single-parent family in that one person is primarily responsible for needs of the children 3. In today's society of two paycheck families, children in all families might attend daycare or become latchkey children.

Literacy and Teen Pregnancy

People can become single parents for a variety of reasons. A study by the American Public Health Association called "Literacy, A Powerful Predictor To Pre-Teen Pregnancy" seems to indicate that girls who have low literacy levels are more likely to become pregnant during their teen years than age peers who have higher reading levels. "The Handbook of Language and Literacy" by C. Addison Stone, states that family cultural practices have a strong influence on literacy development 4. It is probable that mothers with low literacy would be less likely to set a reading example for their children.

Exhaustion Factor and Support Networks

For single parents with a reasonable degree of literacy, the greatest challenge of raising children alone is the exhaustion factor. After working all day, these parents must pick up their children from the sitter or daycare, prepare an evening meal, interact with their child, and do any cleaning or preparatory work for the following day. Active parenting is often fitted into one or two short hours. A good support network such as friends or family or even supportive teachers at a school facility, can help bridge the exhaustion gap for single parents.