Single Parent Families and Delinquency

249 views 7 pages ~ 1770 words
Get a Custom Essay Writer Just For You!

Experts in this subject field are ready to write an original essay following your instructions to the dot!

Hire a Writer

Family structure affects the negligent behavior of a child. Adolescent children are usually affected by the breakdown of the family breakdown which forces them to resort to practices such as drug use as a way of finding emotional refuge. Parents play an essential role in a child's life. They provide discipline, mentorship, and emotional support. When a parent is close to his or her child, the parent can detect any change in the child's behavior and correct it. The children from single-parent families may not enjoy the close supervision from the parents since the single parent has to play both the role of father and mother, which may be overwhelming. In addition to that, the lack of a parent may lead to feelings of bitterness and rebellion. In analyzing the connection between parent families and delinquency, this paper looks at both at single mothers who were never married and parents who divorced. It is based on the assumption that single-parent families contribute to delinquent behavior.

The connection between Single Parents Families and Delinquent Behavior

            The family is the most critical unit in a child's life. The parents' love acts as a support to the children. While every human being is in need of love and acceptance, children are in greater need of the two. Children from single-parent families often feel unloved or unaccepted. They cannot get adequate love from the single parent. Where the family situation is due to a divorce, the single parent is likely to bitter. In some instances, they express their bitterness to their children. Some of the divorcees suffer an emotional breakdown as a result of what they consider a betrayal by their former partners. Even where the parent does not express their bitterness, they are likely to be withdrawn and, therefore, not capable of giving their children adequate love and attention. Where the parent is depressed, the child may develop a feeling of inferiority. As a result, they get involved in gangs which they see as their support groups.

            Role of parents in child discipline. Parents shape the behavior of their children and even their academic performance. Ineffective parenting, on the other hand, is linked to childhood conduct disorders. The disorders lead to academic failure and negative peer influence (Patterson, DeBaryshe & Ramsey, 2017). Children from strict families often grow up disciplined and dedicated. In schools, parents attend meetings, consult with the teachers and monitor their children's behavior. Given that they have been with the child from the time of birth, they fully understand the child's behavior and can notice any behavioral changes. Young boys always see their fathers are mentors and try to live up to their father's expectations. The boys who grow up in mothers-only families lack the mentorship they desperately require for their development. The parental attachment also allows children to confide in their parents. By sharing their concerns with their parents, the children get emotional comfort. Children from single-parent families lack adequate parental attachment to share their concerns since the single parent has to balance different roles. Early detection of signs of delinquency allows for real-time intervention and prevents the children from sinking farther in misconduct.

            Single parent families may suffer from economic challenges due to the overwhelming role of the single parent. The children lack the basic needs leading to lower self-esteem. Poor economic status may also lead to rejection of the children by their peers. The affected children may suffer from depression, and in some instances they become rebellious. They may even resort to delinquent behavior such as petty theft as a way of improving their economic positions. The children engage in drug abuse as a way of seeking emotional consolation. Where the parent is too busy or depressed to notice such behavioral changes, the child may reach dangerous levels. The child needs emotional guidance to accept the changes in economic conditions that may be a consequence of their parents' marriage.

            Single parenthood has adverse effects on the well-being of the child. The challenges persist into adulthood. There is a link between criminal behavior and single parent families. The violence cases are higher among single-parent children. Violence is linked to emotional instability. Children from single-parent families often suffer from bitterness and depression. In many instances, those around them such as the teachers and fellow students fail to understand the emotional challenges that such children undergo. Where the children are not counseled early enough, they become highly irritable. In the poor areas, most of the children who end up arrested for criminal behavior are those from broken families. Some engage in violent activities as a rebellion to what they consider an unfair society. The proportion of fatherless families may be an indicator of the level of crime in society.

            The effect of single parenthood can also be looked at from the point of teen mothers. According to statistics, at the age of 32 teenage mothers are more likely to be without a job compared to the non-teenage mothers. Child-bearing at a young age affects one's academic and career progression unless they have adequate support from their families. There are higher cases of teen pregnancy among African Americans, especially those from poor backgrounds (Assini-Meytin & Green, 2015). The problems associated with such teenage parenting persist even in the parent's adulthood. Such challenges often translate to the children born by adolescent mothers. The children are likely to be brought up in poverty. The low education level of the single parent may also provide little motivation for the child to excel in their school since they lack mentorship. Such children are more likely to engage in delinquent behavior due to lack of someone to mentor them. To prevent the children from sliding into delinquent behavior, they need adequate support from the teachers and other social groups such as the church.

            Psychologists are unanimous on the crucial role of parenthood to a child's upbringing. The question that has not, however, been settled is whether single parents are less happy compared to partnered parents. The answer to the question depends on the country's social norms. The lower levels of satisfaction by single mothers is as a result of the financial strains and the need to balance between work and social life (Stravrova & Fetchenhauer, 2015). Due to the high financial demands, the single mother is often forced to put more hours of work. The problem is less intense where there are social programs meant to support needy families such as food stamps or free education. In Europe, it has been established that single mothers are at a higher risk of poverty and psychosocial stress and depression. Factors such as depression and poverty affect the parent's ability to raise the child and leads to increased cases of child delinquency.

            The relationship between single parenthood and delinquency does not occur in isolation. Factors such as the social environment, the economic factors and the parent's level of education also play a role in the growth and development of the child. For instance, the impact of single parenthood is not the same when comparing highly educated parents and parents with low education. Highly trained parents are likely to motivate their children. They are also more responsive to the child's social needs and may be quick to notice the behavioral changes in their children. Highly educated parents also maintain close contact with the teachers and monitor their children's performance. Some of the empowered parents have devised means of providing emotional support for their children by contracting counselors to observe the behavior of their children.

            The effect of single parenthood on a child's behavior is also dependant on the parent's economic status. Economically empowered single parents are capable of providing their children with the support they need. Such children will not suffer from poverty. The only challenge that the child may face is the lack of the other parent to offer them guidance or to act as a mentor. Some single parents counter that by ensuring that their children are engaged in extracurricular activities and also engaging them in groups that offer emotional support such as youth groups in churches and the communities. The single parent may even go a step farther to inspire their children through books and motivational talks. Where the parent can afford relaxed work schedules and holidays to spend time with their child, they provide the required emotional attachment that the child needs and therefore reduce the impacts of the single parenthood. Poor parents, on the other hand, cannot afford the luxury of holidays with their children. They also have to work for more extended hours doing more than one job a day to meet their financial needs.

            The emotional impact of divorce on a child depends on the level of contact with the parents after the separation. Children require a sense of belonging and acceptance from their parents. The absence of one parent makes them feel neglected. Some parents engage in co-parenting after divorce. While the child stays with one parent, they still get frequent visits by the other parent. Acts such as buying the child a gift on their birthday help to boost the child's self-esteem and erodes the feeling of abandonment. The child is less likely to be depressed when they know that they can still see their divorced parents regularly. Even where a child is born out of wedlock, they deserve to know their absent parent to give them a sense of belonging.


            There is a deep connection between single-parent families and delinquent behavior in young people. The loss lack of parental care from a parent has adverse psychological factors on the child such as causing depression and low self-esteem. The research, however, establishes that the impact of single-parent families is not the same for all children. Children from poor backgrounds experience more significant effect of family breakdown since, in addition to the loss of parental love, they have to deal with challenges such as economic hardships occasioned by the breakdown. The problems make the children susceptible to delinquent behavior such as drug abuse and violence. The impacts of single parenthood on the child's behavior can be minimized through close contact between the single parent and the child, provision of counseling to the child and communication with the absent parent.


Assini-Meytin, L. C., & Green, K. M. (2015). Long-term consequences of adolescent parenthood      among African-American urban youth: a propensity score matching approach. Journal of   Adolescent Health, 56(5), 529-535.

Patterson, G. R., DeBaryshe, B. D., & Ramsey, E. (2017). A developmental perspective on        antisocial behavior. In Developmental and Life-course Criminological Theories (pp. 29-           35). Routledge.

Stavrova, O., & Fetchenhauer, D. (2015). Single parents, unhappy parents? Parenthood,             partnership, and the cultural normative context. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology,     46(1), 134-149.

December 12, 2023

Child Development

Subject area:


Number of pages


Number of words




Writer #



Expertise Parenting
Verified writer

William7650 is top class for tasks related to life and family! He is one of the most patient writers who will listen to you and fix every concern that you have. Contact him for your tasks as he is one of the best writers around!

Hire Writer

This sample could have been used by your fellow student... Get your own unique essay on any topic and submit it by the deadline.

Eliminate the stress of Research and Writing!

Hire one of our experts to create a completely original paper even in 3 hours!

Hire a Pro