Single parents and step families

Research on the effects of growing up in single-parent and step families illustrates the complexity of family-related influences. (H) Overall, children in single-parent and step families show higher mean levels of emotional and behavioural problems than those in non-divorced two-parent families; they also have an increased probability of health problems and educational underachievement. But there are also marked differences within each family type, and associations between the quality of mother-child relationships and children's adjustment is similar across family settings. In addition, single-parent and reconstituted families often differ from stable two-parent families in a plethora of other ways; in particular, they are much more likely to face economic pressures, poor social support, and higher levels of maternal depression. Once these variations, and the degree of negativity in family relationships are taken into account, family type per se shows few consistent links with children's adjustment.

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