Someone comes to my blog almost every day by searching for single parent statistics. If you are looking for numbers, be careful that you don’t end up on a “father’s rights” site because they skew the numbers they find to make it look like mothers are the problem here.
Common sense tells us that children from a one parent home have it harder and end up in more trouble. But the factors involved are much more than just the mother pushing the father out of the relationship. Poverty is a huge factor. Continued conflict and abuse from a father might be a huge factor. A man who abuses a wife will most likely continue to cause conflict with her, and then do the same things to the children. Lack of payment of child support may force her to work more than she would like to, leaving the kids alone to get into trouble.
I have balanced graduate school, work, and a tiny pathetic social life (that at this point is nonexistent) with carefully raising my three children. Their father was $20,000 in arrears, used to take them for visitation only when it was convenient for him, continued to abuse and harass me, and turned to them as his new victims. I cannot take the blame for teenage behavior, when I have spent so much time and effort while being undermined.
These father’s rights sites are dangerous because they push women to stay in relationships that cause more harm, because they are so protective of their children that they would rather sacrifice their own safety and happiness than to let the children become a statistic.
He threw all those numbers at me to try to get me to stay. And I cried. No one wants to split up a family. But then I also saw what he was starting to do to the children as they got older (6,5, and 3 at that time). Scaring them, calling them names, raging about.
The effects of witnessing domestic violence are very similar to those of children raised in single mother homes:
- 40 % of violent juvenile defenders come from DV homes
- Children in DV homes are high risk for anxiety, depression, aggressive behaviors, social anxiety, fearful or inhibited behaviors, temperament problems, antisocial behaviors, trauma disorders, etc.
- 40-60% of men who abuse women also abuse children and child abuse creates its own set of terrible statistics.
- Children in DV homes are also at greater risk of being a part of a DV home later on in life, either as the perpetrator or the victim.
(From the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence workshop on Children and Youth Advocacy, 2005)
What is the common factor in a family with domestic violence and many single mother homes? Is it that the father is an abuser, an alcoholic, irresponsible? How many women leave their husbands because of abuse?
I know that I would NEVER have run from him if he had had one ounce of decency. I didn’t divorce him because I was greedy or selfish or a whore, as he would suggest. I sacrificed everything because I knew that:
One decent loving parent is enough.