Single-parent children are ‘unhappier as adults’

Family|June 23rd 2017

Children who grew up in a single-parent household are less happy and less well off than their peers, a new study suggests.

Almost a quarter – 24 per cent – of children in the UK are currently being raised by one parent and in as many as 80 per cent of those cases they are cared for by their mother. Such children are nine per cent less likely to be in a romantic relationship as an adult and, on average, have fewer friends than those who grew up with both parents, researchers from the University of Warwick claim.

They are also reportedly more likely to be unemployed and they tend to earn around 30 per cent less than their peers.

These findings came from a study of around 24,000 people between the ages of 18 and 66. Of this group, the research team identified 641 people whose entire childhood was spent with a single parent and a further 1,539 who spent part of their formative years in that situation.

Each participant was asked to rank their overall happiness with their lives. Their annual income, level of social integration and success in romantic relationships were also analysed. The researchers found that, on average, adults who grew up with one parent were 0.2 points less happy with their lives on a scale of 0 to ten.

Co-author Dr Sakari Lemola works in the University’s Psychology Department. He said their research indicates that “both parents still provide important resources even when children have already grown up and left their parent’s home”. These can include “financial support as well as access to social networks, which is important to find a good job”.

By contrast, those who only grew up with one parent are “less likely to know their second parent well and to receive such support during adult life” he continued.

The full study was published in the academic journal PLOS One.

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  1. S says:

    Sadly in some circumstances two parents can’t be together.i applaud any father who goes out of his way to see there children. Through my own experience my children would sit in the window and waiting for where he had promised them.would never turn up and always had excuses,it was heartbreaking.after seeing how much upset this was causing,I decided to organise something as I knew deep down it was pure laziness and could have walked only 20 minutes to collect them. Personally myself I have never been prouder of my sons than I am today there now young men and told there father that there wasn’t any excuses and can’t make up for those years now. Yes they love me very much and tells me every day how proud they are of me for putting them first and raising them well. One is 22 and has 16 different qualifications,the other is 18 also passed everything in school,done military training preparation and in the last year of hair dressing. Never been in trouble,never went around in gangs and causing chaos and thankfully neither smoke or drink alcohol at all. So even though they grew up without a dad they still had a mail figure in there life,which was grandad and family. They are very popular and have many friends,and socially involved on social media and both been in relationships with girlfriends 1 for nearly 3 years and others a year. And they have always said that they would never do what there father done to them,it sounds cruel but it’s not they seen it for themselves. But would forget that day of being let down as I’d already have the car packed and off me and my boys would go for the weekend/school holidays. All children deserve to know both parents,but if constantly being let down I think boundaries should be set,where other arrangements should be made..a child in a loving environment and much encouragement and fun is a happy child. But both parents should always be on the child’s birth certificates no matter what. And never stay in a relationship hoping it will save the relationship and for the children’s sake as that could do more harm than good. If parents don’t get on ask family members to help and be go between with the parents for contact. Children are precious and should never be made to feel bad if seeing another is very important and for the few who don’t understand that,then they try and make it up in later years when the children are older as there far from silly and know these things.

  2. David Mortimer says:

    Lone parent families ‘harm the health of children’.

  3. Paul says:

    The evidence that keeping families together is good for children is overwhelming. Fathers rights groups have presented it for years. But family courts clearly do not accept evidence. They will not give up their mandate to seperate familes at will. As long as they can exploit fathers to bankcrupcy and beyond. Nothing will change at all.

    • Samantha says:

      Sadly I have to agree with your comment,I’ve had to watch my son getting trampled on in a family court for being a innocent man like many fathers. The courts seem to have a one mind thinking by persecuting fathers and family members who support them. Nobody is allowed in the court,everything is hush hush, I’m a woman and the amount of men I’ve seen that have done nothing wrong at all, but in the firing line from every angle possible. While they continue to empty bank accounts to run this circus,that’s what it is allowing misleading and inaccurate information to be allowed by mothers/local authorities/cafcass. If there was any charges he would be guilty of loving her too much. “Punishment without any crime ” I said I’d stand by him as a mum/nan but mostly to speak of how the circus runs in favour of everyone except for the fathers. This has gone on far to long,and no man should ever be put through this, and the only person who is actually suffering is the child,and still continue to let this happen.

      • Paul says:

        Thank you for your comment Samantha. Sorry to hear your son and granchild is another victim of the family court injustice system. Its important that voices like yours are heard as well as us fathers. Its not only fathers who suffer in this system. We have a whole family who have to watch us be devastated and then have to pick up the pieces. You are also victims of this system.

  4. Deborah Pearson says:

    Some of us can’t help being single parents. My partner died before our son was born and that was completely unexpected. I have no desire to go “hunting around” for a new partner as I am too busy being a mum and raising my son. I also don’t think anyone can replace my late partner. Some of us are doing a difficult job with what life has thrown at us.

    • Paul says:

      Im sure this article is no slight on your situation. Unfortunatly there are a growning number of mums who are choosing to seperate their children from their father by foul and underhanded means. Means which are all legally acceptible. This is simply highlighting the harm they are doing if they make that choice. This highlights the sadness of this situation. Im sure you would have really liked to have your childrens father around. Of course their are people placed in this situation who have to deal with it as best they can. I am sure your children will be as happy and supported as they can be. I am sorry for your loss. You are a ‘true’ single parent. Mothers who choose to disregard the childs father are not.

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