The face of single parenting has changed in recent decades. It's no longer synonymous with "broken" homes or "illegitimate" children -- probably at least in part because single parenting is more common now, and parents are more likely to be on their own because they choose to be. Today in the U.S., around 27 percent of all families with children are headed by a single parent (versus nearly 20 percent in 1980) [source: U.S. Census Bureau].
What's more, many of the children in these types of situations do very well. U.S. President Barack Obama, for instance, grew up in a non-traditional household, and it didn't keep him from reaching the highest political office in the nation.
However, while kids raised by single parents are less likely to be stigmatized than they once were, many are still at risk for certain psychological and developmental problems. For example, children from single-parent homes may be more likely to drop out of school, and they are also more vulnerable to alcohol and drug use.
To really get a handle on how single parenting affects children, and how single parents can steer their kids away from these pitfalls, it's important to look at the various factors that can have a negative impact. The source of the problems is not necessarily single-parenthood itself, but a combination of economic pressures, family instability and conflict between parents.
Ultimately, the answer to whether single parenting affects any particular child is this: It depends. A single parent with adequate resources may provide a stable, nurturing home in which children thrive just as well as those who have two parents. On the other hand, a single parent who's just scraping by and has little time, energy or skill for parental duties might have children who are at risk for a variety of problems.
In this article, you'll read about some of the problems that can arise for kids in single-parent households and learn what single parents can do to minimize the risks to their children. To learn more about the potential psychological effects of single parenting, read on to the next page.