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Single vs. two parent families

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
Okay, I am bringing this topic to a new thread per Oceanmama's suggestion on p. 4 of Nurturing Mother. I am not suggesting that single parent families are better overall than two parent families, but rather that neither one is the best. Good and bad kids come from both homes. However, Oceanmama's personal observations reminded me of a study in The Hite Report on the Family that showed that men raised in single mother homes had better relationships with women than did men raised in two parent homes. In the study, 80 percent of men raised in single mother homes had developed strong lasting relationships with women as opposed to 40 percent of men raised in two person homes. Hite theorized that two parent homes can display more gender inequality than do single mother homes and cause men to look down on women and all things feminine. This is not an absolute, ie not all two parent homes display gender inequality, but that it is more likely to show up in two parent homes than in single parent homes. Food for thought.
post #2 of 21
Interesting!I have been thinking about the benifits of multigenerational homes and the advantages to that.I think two parents aren't enough.Men are important but I think we tend to only look at the father but uncles and grandfathers also play a very important role in many cultures.

Anyhow I'd love hear what you all think
post #3 of 21
We all know that statistics can be skewed to say anything that we want or need them to say. So, I definitely question the Hite report. I just came off of a WHO breastfeeding study that was conducted through the univ. here and you would not believe how they manipulated and skewed the results! But that is another topic.

Absolutely I must say that two parent families are the ideal and even more than that, I agree wholeheartedly with Cookiemomster, that multigenerational is even more the ideal. Especially if we want to parent ap. Mothers were never meant to do it all-- the chilrearing, cooking, cleaning, teaching, finances, etc. Something has to give and it usually the children.

There are many other studies that state how important it is to have two parent families and how much better both boys and girls do with fathers in the home. Now, obviously there are exceptions to that rule. But, it takes two to make a baby and ideally it takes two to raise a baby. Plus, on a personal note, I strongly disagree with Oceanmama's statement that men growing up with SAHMs did not turn out as well as men with WOHMs. This has not been my experience at all! But once again, it depends on the parent and how the children were raised.

My hubby, for instance, was raised with his dad working days and his mom working nights. In addition to this, he and his brother and sister had a strong relationship with their extended family that lived close by. They played an extremely important role in their lives. They are wonderful people that helped to give them a greater perspective on the meaning of family.

Gender bias and role playing has more to do with how one was raised than whether or not one came from single parent or SAHMs. In fact, I think that it would be more difficult for children to know how they are supposed to nurture and support their partner without that example. Our children lean more from example than anything else. Being a two parent, SAHM family does not mean our children learn traditional sexist roles.

I am concerned about the lack of support that I am seeing for the SAHMs and the traditional two parent families. All of society show more value and support for the 2 working parent families and now, the single parent families? Please, if I want to read this I will go to " Parenting !" I have friends that are single mothers-- this is not something that they wish on anyone. Raising children is a hard job. Both parents need to take responsibility!

Now, obviously there are mothers out there who did not choose the path of single parenthood due to death or abuse or a louse and we need to be there for them. As women, friends and sisters we need to give them all of the love and support that they need. That is just it, they need our support, not encouragement that a single work outside the home mom, is the ideal. Talk about traditional, sexist roles! What a grave disservice we would be doing to our children to not raise them to love, support and nurture their partners-- to raise them that when they have children that that child is the most important person in their lives and deserves all of the time, love and attention that they can give.

Motherhood is a wonderul, but difficult role-- why make it even harder? It is the children who suffer.

By the way, you say that two parent homes are more likely to have gender inequality than single parent homes? What?
post #4 of 21
Ok I'm lost.

What I said was "Some of the worst criminal types I have met along life's journey & the ones who are the nastiest & most abusive to women all had sahms. ...." I did not in fact bring single parents into it coz I don't see the wohm / wahm thing to be soley related to single parenthood at all. dh works 6 days a week & if I couldn't wahm, there was a very strong chance I would have had to wohm. I definitley never said anything that equated to "I strongly disagree with Oceanmama's statement that men growing up with SAHMs did not turn out as well as men with WOHMs. "

What I also said was

I still feel that it's the quality of parenting that counts. I am sure that the kids that loved you the caregiver more than their parents had issues far deeper in their families than just the parents working.

The whole new thread thing I actually meant our opinions as to the why society today is so bad. I was actually thinking more along the lines of media, rampant materialism, instant gratification etc etc not single parents!!!!
post #5 of 21
My dh is the most considerate man I know. He was raised by his working divorced mom and her sister (who worked an opposite shift than his mom) until his mom remarried when he was 11. He also has 2 sisters. I have never known a man to be so tuned into what women need and want. He is awesome. I think it is definitely the way his mother and aunt parented him. And he is such a good daddy
post #6 of 21
Oceanmama, sorry I am not very good about highlighting quotes.

Dfoy, I know that there are wonderful exceptions to the rule. I am sure that your dh is wonderful and that there are others out there. I just don't believe that it is the optimal way. We all need more help, not less.

Yes, it is the quality of parenting that counts, but it is immensely easier to have the kind of ap quality with the love and support of two parents. You will never convince me with the quality v. quantity argument-- trust me, to a child, they are both.
post #7 of 21
Thread Starter 
Oceanmama, sorry I kind of brought you into this. I knew you were only basing what you said on your experience. My point is the same as yours, I think: whether you sah or woh, if you are a good and loving parent, your child will turn out great. Vice versa, whether you sah or woh, if you are a bad parent, your child will not turn out so great. Sahms aren't all good parents, neither are wohms.
Dfoy, my dh was raised by a single working mom too and he is the tops. On the opposing side, ds's dad had a sahm and he is a useless person.
I think that being able to sah is only a benefit if you are a great mom to start with.
Glad2bemama, gender inequality can't take place in a home without 2 gender parents. That is why I said that. It is just a point that 2 parent homes are not always ideal.
post #8 of 21
Laralou, what I meant about the gender inequality question was to say that of course, there would still, absolutely be gender inequality for a single parent. She would be filling both roles rather than splitting the load. I, for one, enjoy having my hubby fix dinner on many an occasion-- not to mention, clean his bathroom and help fold the laundry and change the diapers when home...mothering and homeschooling our children is my job, but housework is divided Although, honestly, we are still working on that bathroom thing-- my standards are a little different, but at least we are getting there
post #9 of 21
Interesting thread...I have to jump in on the quality vs quantity though. It's all about quality. One good, caring parent will always outweigh two parents who don't give a cr*p or are abusive. I also have a little problem with the idea that it's okay to support a single parent (only if they are not single by choice?) but not to encourage someone to be a single woh parent. Though I'm not sure how you'd do that anyway.

I don't think anyone here lacks support for the two-parent structure or SAHMs. If anything, we are probably more compassionate and understanding when talking about single parent families and WOHMs because we truly know how tough a job it is to raise a child and we are so passionate about it. Do I run around telling women to be SAHMs? No. Everyone has to make their own choices when in fact they do have the choice.

I was a happy SAHM for two years (so I do support SAHMs!), and now dh and I have traded off and he's a SAHD while I work. If you want to talk about overcoming gender inequality, let's see more dads home and actually sharing the child-raising work! Ideally, ds and I would both be working part-time and equally raising ds, however, this is as close as we can get right now.

Oceanmama -- I totally agree with you when you talk about pointing the finger at our economic structure and the importance that is placed on consumerism and materialism. And let's not forget the long-lost 40 hour work week and businesses that do not function in a way that supports those with families. It's not easy for a family to get by with one parent working these days (and even less easy for a single working parent).
post #10 of 21
Thread Starter 
I agree Cat. We also need ways for moms to work and make a sustainable living without leaving her kids. While I took ds with me to work surreptitiously, I never saw a job that would allow me to be with ds and make a wage we could live on. I don't think the total solution should be affording two parent homes the opportunity for one parent to stay home, because that doesn't address the needs of single moms to be able to be with their kids.

Glad2bemama, I get it. I don't think that my ds seeing me play both the "male and female roles" taught him gender inequality. But perhaps the fact that his father did nothing did. Still, being a sahm now I can see how my role is more skewed as is dh's. It is just something to be aware of.
post #11 of 21
I know that my 17 yo dd would have been much worse off had I stayed married to her abusive, alcoholic father (who btw was a product of a 2 parent, SAHM, very dysfunctional family & the reason I took 12 years to remarry).

And my dh says he would be a much different person had he lived with his career airforce pilot/officer father (and not in a positive way).

Quality of the family life counts immensely.

Of course, the ideal is a 2 parent home. But how many 2 parent homes are ideal? I think ours is pretty close to ideal, but I wish I could be home with my 7 mo old. I know ALOT of 2 parent homes that are far from ideal, with or without SAHMs.

I agree that the blame lies with consumerism, materialism and current economic structure.
post #12 of 21
Thread Starter 
ITA, dfoy. There are so many variables that go into what makes a family good. The number of parents are just one of them.
post #13 of 21
Alright, I never meant that women should stay with or children should be parented by abusive husbands/partners. I believe that I stated that already. No one should ever have to endure that. My father-in-law knows the cost of that far too well. Fortunately he broke the cycle and never so much as spanked his children. And by abuse, this includes verbal, physical and sexual.

As for Cat's question about whether or not we should encourage mothers to be single by choice. No, absolutely not, I do not believe that I would encourage a woman to have a child without a support system in place. It is just too difficult. Now, obviously women find themselves in this postion and once again, we need to be there for them. I am referring to a conscious decision before becoming pregnant, not after.

My reference to the quality v. quantity was in regards to time spent together. Of course, the quality of parenting matters. What I meant was that children want to be with their parents as much as possible and need their example. I grew up hardly ever seeing my father. Trust me, it made a difference-- as it also did with a mother that had to carry the burden of raising my sister and I on our own.

In regards to consumerism, etc. I see that as an easy answer. It is always easier to blame the big, bad corporation. Rarely have I ever known people to tune out of consumerism and try to become more independant. How many times have I known someone that barely has any money and they spend it on formula or soda or cigarettes? It is heartbreakingly simple and yet made so difficult. I don't know. Where I live, for example, people love to complain about our dependance on the middle east for oil and then drive away in their SUV.

As for single mothers, I do believe that we all need to support one another more often in tangible ways. We need to reach out and form communities-- help each other when new babies arrive, or housework or childcare when we are sick. Teach each other independance by means of growing more of our own food supply or whatever talents that we may be able to share. Too often I see people pointing the finger at the government and becoming detached from their own communities. We all need to be there for one another... and by all means we need to teach our children to help us and each other-- boys and girls side by side.

Yes, what makes a family a good one is far more complicated than whether or not there are two parents. It just certainly makes it easier with two and I believe it is possible.
post #14 of 21
Thread Starter 
Wow, glad2bemama, I think I agreed with every word of your post. Is there an applause smiley?

BTW, I am a sahm and I love it. I just hate to see single moms get trashed when many do a better job than some 2 parent homes.
post #15 of 21

Okay, regarding not encouraging a woman to have a child "without a support system in place." I know of women who are single and intend to have (or have had) a child. Now, these women may not have the traditional support system that's called a husband, however, they do have alternative support systems that do work for them. I totally agree that it's incredibly difficult to do it on your own. I don't think I would choose that route myself. However, I know one person that felt she had the choice to do it alone or never do it. And she's a wonderful, loving mom. She knew it would be hard but she was prepared...and brave!

Quality v. quantity -- again, I'd argue that point even in regards to time spent with your children. One of my pet peeves is seeing a parent at the park, playground or just walking down the street with their child and they've got the cell phone glued to their ear. Not exactly quality time and you can imagine what that could do to a child's self esteem. Again, I totally agree with you that spending time with your child is so very important. It's how one chooses to use that time that counts. And I think we all agree that this is just one component of parenting.

Last one - consumerism, etc. I'm not blaming the big, bad corporation. In fact, I'm looking at the state of the country today and its economic realities more than consumerism. Once upon a time you could buy a house on one parent's salary. That was before homes became a commodity/investment versus a necessity and housing prices skyrocketed. And there has been a considerable change in the number of hours that one spends at work; it is no longer a 40-hour work week. Not very family friendly. And considering the fact that there are so many families with both parents working or single parent families, why don't we see more changes in the workplace that allow for things like on-site child care? Or what about all those "telecommuting" jobs that were supposed to have popped up, allowing a parent to work at home? I just feel that business doesn't place much value on family or children, therefore there is no incentive and no effort made to integrate those realities into the workplace. (Truth is, production would probably increase if the efforts were made.) Unfortunately, I think children are seen as a liability more than an asset (parent must leave work for sick child, leave work right on time to pick up child from child care, etc.). So I guess it's a change in perception on the part of business that must happen with more value placed on the needs of the family.

Believe me, I strongly believe in having one parent at home if it is possible and if that's what the parents are able to choose. Dh and I live very simply and quite close to the edge financially because it's important for one of us to be home raising our son. We're very fortunate we can do it. We make the sacrifice and, sure, we're broke, but we're all happy!

Just so you know, I'm not trying to be argumentative here, but just present some other sides to the story.
post #16 of 21

Re: Single vs. two parent families

Originally posted by laralou

The Hite Report on the Family that showed that men raised in single mother homes had better relationships with women than did men raised in two parent homes.
Of course, the obvious problem with this report is that it does not take into account the parents who are economically trapped in the relationship that is destroying the children.

Not only that, but it is ignoring the "arse hole" factor, the problem that many men become infected with (I suspect the virus is carried in six-pax). If they do away with the dead beats, then they may well discover that the maturity and courage of the young men tend to emulate those fathers that have the confidence to be gentle, and to love their children unashamedly.

post #17 of 21
Thread Starter 
Cat, I still agree with you that there needs to be serious reform for mothers in the workplace. I said it before and I'll say it again, I would have killed to find a job that allowed me to take ds to work and allow me to make a livable wage. Daycare jobs just don't work when you have a house note, car note, health and auto insurance and have the audacity to want food on top of that.

But I agree with glad2bemama that often we increase our dependence on corporations by having lifestyles that exceed our means insuring future debt and eliminating the possibility of ever getting to cut back or quit work.
post #18 of 21
I am in total awe of parents who do it all single handedly, especially those who do it well.

We had a full-time helper for 4.5 years, and numerous relatives staying months at a time, and it still was not enough!

post #19 of 21

I agree with your statement about consumerism. It indeed is a trap. And some people will wish to maintain their material lifestyle, no matter what the cost.

By the way, I've been meaning to tell you that I love that Shari Thurer quote!
post #20 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks. I really liked it too. But you and I might be the only ones, I am afraid.
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