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Psychoanalyst: Forget Political Correctness, Kids Need Both Parents

3 ¾ min

When I was a young college student, trying to feel my way through classes and take assignments seriously, I dutifully weighed in on an online discussion board with a few thoughts on the disadvantages children raised in single parent homes face.

Big mistake.

I was lambasted with emotional responses, the essence of which can be summarized as, “I was raised by a single mom! I turned out just fine!”

Over the years, I’ve learned such responses aren’t limited to college students. I get it. Single mothers have rough lives and do yeoman’s work, many sacrificing constantly to give the best to their children. They need all the love and support we can give.

But giving love and support doesn’t mean that we should ignore the fact that children raised with only one parent – mom or dad – face various life disadvantages.

Psychoanalyst Erica Komisar understands this. Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Komisar claims that “Political Correctness Is Bad for Kids,” citing a new poll in which nearly 70 percent of those with a liberal political affiliation disagree “‘that marriage is needed to create strong families.’” Those who think this way are wrong, says Komisar, noting, “It’s a shame that political correctness inhibits discussions of what’s best for children.”

She lists three disadvantages which come from growing up without a father and a mother. I repeat them here because they illuminate several head-scratching trends we’ve seen among millennials and those in Gen Z.

1. Losing the Apron Strings

Children need a balance of secure attachment and healthy separation, and the traditional two-parent structure provides it. Mothers are uniquely suited for sensitive nurturing, which helps regulate distress and is critical to early development. Fathers provide balance by teaching children to regulate their aggression and become independent. In my practice I have seen an increasing number of moms who are single by choice. Although the mothers have the attachment part down, they don’t have a man around to help the separation process, and the kids struggle as a result.

The last several years are full of stories about a generation that can’t seem to make it on its own. They don’t know how to cook, or clean, or do “adulting” tasks. They have trouble going to college interviews or navigating their first real job without mom playing advocate and running interference for them. There could be other factors at work, but is it possible the increasing absence of fathers has gotten our kids into this mess? Is the current generation of young people unable to spread their wings and fly because dad is so often the one who helps them cut the apron strings?

2. Marriage Decline

Children of single parents also lack the opportunity to observe a loving relationship between two adults, and that can interfere with their ability to form relationships when they grow up. These losses can be repaired only if they are acknowledged.

Another trending topic in recent years is the inability of young people to properly date, marry, and raise a family. Theories abound – it’s video games, or social media, or the explosion of choices on dating apps that keep young people from settling down like they once did. What if they just don’t know how? We learn by example. If the example of a father and mother loving each other is absent, or if those stories of “how I met your mother” aren’t there, won’t it be much harder for young people to make their way to the altar?

3. Behavioral Issues

Traditional family structures have fostered a division of labor in which the father earns money and the mother cares for children. That balance has become more difficult even for two-parent families, but single parents have far more difficulty. Along with the emotional challenges, this can contribute to a cycle of poverty. Children in single-parent families are likelier to have emotional and behavioral problems, to drop out of school and to be poor as adults.

The worsening behavior of children is a topic of conversation in almost every generation. But with tales of violence and disrespect against teachers proliferating in the last few years, it seems safe to say that the current generation wins the prize for having the most emotional and behavioral problems. Would today’s teachers have more time to spend on instruction if they didn’t have to deal with the emotional fallout from America’s broken homes?

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[Image Credit: Flickr-Clemens v. Vogelsang, CC BY 2.0]

Annie Holmquist

Annie Holmquist

Annie Holmquist is the editor of Intellectual Takeout. When not writing or editing, she enjoys reading, gardening, and time with family and friends.

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Singlemom
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As a single mother, this is trash! I am both parents. Any single parent should be outraged with your stupidity! Traditional parenting is sexist and to suggest a single parent can’t be both is disgusting! My child doesn’t face any disadvantages from me being a single mom, but actually gets to see what a strong independent woman looks like. Any child who doesn’t know how to cook and care for themselves was never taught, but has nothing to do with having a single parent! Just has to do with the parenting style! You can be a crap single parent, or you can be the best for them. Seriously don’t be a parent if you believe that every child needs a male and female parent! What about lesbian and gay couples?? Two men and two women can raise wonderful children just as well or just as shitty as a single parent or a cis married couple!
 
 

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NCguy
You do realize you validated the author. You needed PC and attacking/berating. Teachers see the struggle single students have. The SCIENCE indicates for a child to be productive in society, there is a greater chance of that happening from a dual parent home. Hell, your GL argument supports dual over single. Why do you think liberal leaning folks fight this family thinking? It is easier to enslave those to needing the government with low self-reliance. War on Poverty is war on family..
jessbridges1
That’s your opinion and opinions are like assholes! Why can’t you help yourself? I happen to agree wholeheartedly with this and I don’t believe it was meant to piss you off but that’s how people like you think.
nashdude
With all due respect, if it's generally agreed that "it takes a village to raise a child", why would you bristle at the suggestion that that village would be better as a partnership between two parents than as a dictatorship of one parent?
NCguy
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Dual parents provides children with two different ways of handling situations that they can choose from on every aspect of life. Since a lot of single (moms) are by choice being single parents, can any of them really claim they can best teach their child how to be in a loving relationship or know how to act as a member of the community? Dual parents afford a chance for the child to gain forgiveness of doing something wrong. They can go to the other parent to be consoled and get advise on how to reconcile the hurt of being punished. Lets face it, parents a lot of times punch the child in such a way the child feels they personally is the problem. Parents don't differentiate between the act the child did and the child. With two parents, the child doesn't have to first feel they are back on an equal footing of being a worthy child. Then they can discuss the actual infraction with their single parent. Some single parents don't have the time (seriously) to make that distinction. I would think it would be nice to have a spouse to help with the kiddos. Instead of lamenting "I do everything and all I have is a bottle of wine and a good soaking in the tube" woooes me, they can have someone else that will do things to lessen the burden on them. But NOOOOO, by choice, many become single parents. If people don't know how to be and stay in a relationship, how can they be qualified to teach relationships to the next generation? Blast me all you want, I value the parental team. As a collective whole, children from single parent households have a greater chance of being at-risk then children from a loving dual parent home. Family starts with mom and dad loving each other and being a partnership. Lots of times moms don't include dad to the point dad stays away, then they whine and complain. Who pushes dads out of the family? DSS, judges and moms....Yes, that is a huge elephant in the room. Blast away, but blast at the mirror and not me.
 
 

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Soldier09r
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I was immediately attracted to this article because of the title and also because I agree. I'm a 38 year old male Hispanic. I value family a lot. Went through a divorce in 2015 and I thought my life was over because someone else was going to raise my kids. Well fast forward to today and I'm remarried with a 6 month old and I now live an hour from my kids and have a good schedule with them. What you say in this article is very true. I witnessed this first hand in the military during my 16 years. I could always tell who came from a single parent home. This is a touchy subject with most because they don't want to admit they are part of the problem but most of the time it's not their fault unless they chose to do it to themselves.
 
 

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