Although traditionally single parents have been viewed in an extremely negative light, this perception of single parents is changing as time progresses as people become more understanding of the circumstances and challenges involved. What the world thinks of single parents, however, is still dominantly negative. True success as a single parent lies in creating positive outcomes from a negative beginning.
One of the primary perceptions people have of single parent homes is that children growing up in such homes tend to be isolated and lack social confidence. However this has been shown to depend largely on the parent’s attitude in the situation. In general these children are better placed to learn confidence and gain independence at a much earlier age, which in turn increases their chances of success later in life. This is a perception of single parent families that is beginning to flourish.
Another common perception (or misperception as the case may be) is that single parent families are rife with conflict bat all times, which means that the children growing up in those families stand a higher chance of facing the many emotional problems associated with intense and constant conflict. It must be noted, however, that children who live in families where parents have separated as a result of their differences and are therefore no longer in constant contact with each other, follow more stable development paths than those children with parents who have remained together despite their inability to resolve their differences. The reason for this is obvious: when parents divorce or separate they bare removing the conflict from the home, while parents who do not believe in divorce or separation or who stay together ‘for the sake of the children’ may be doing far more harm by forcing their children to be involved in a conflictual situation constantly. Long-term stress (i.e. living in a home with parents who are always fighting) has been proven to be more harmful than short-term or temporary stress (i.e. the shock of parents separating and the adjustment involved).
Many of the ‘facts’ that the world has about single parents are incorrect. A large portion of single parents have chosen to be single parents and are not in the situation as a result of bad judgment. In addition there is a large portion of single parents who are in fact older and well educated, again in opposition to what the world thinks of single parents (namely that they consist mainly or entirely of single teenage girls). One of the perceptions that many societies hold regarding single parents is that they are under a lot more stress. In many ways this is true, but the mistake that world societies make lies in using this truth as a reason to stigmatize single parents rather than as a basis to find ways to help those single parents on in life and improve their living conditions.
What the world thinks of single parents needs to change in line with the evidence and facts that are constantly being brought to light. The aim should be on empowering single parents to provide adequately for their children and not on creating a society in which they are made to feel guilty and isolated.
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