Stable Household Trumps Two Parents

Aug 8, 2012 by

An Ohio State University professor has published the findings of a study of family stability that shows growing up in a stable household is more important for a child’s development than whether or not the family has two parents in the home. The findings were released in “Marriage and Family: Perspectives and Complexities,” a recent book co-edited by Claire Kamp Dush, assistant professor of human development and family science. The information was gathered from 5,000 households across the nation for nearly 30 years before the findings were published.

Contrary to past studies that have shown children growing up in two-parent homes have distinct advantages over those in single-parent households, the Ohio State study did not find that two-parent households were best in all cases. Instead, in comparing children of single and married households, the study found little difference in the school and home life of both. Academic scores and behavior were about the same for children of stable single-parent households as they were for those coming from married households.

The study concluded that growing up in a stable household without divorce or other family upsets is of critical importance and that the prospect of marriage for single moms is not always a good thing. The marriage of a single parent, especially those marriages that are not stable or those that end in breakups and divorce, can be extremely disruptive to children in the home. The result is that it may be better for single mothers to stay single, or at least to avoid live-in romances unless they are prepared to work at a permanent and lasting relationship over the long haul. In that light, it seems family stability trumps family size.

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