EFFECT OF SINGLE PARENT ON STUDENTS ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS
1.1 Background to the study
Single-parent families can be defined as families where a parent lives with dependent children, either alone or in a large household, without a Spouse or partner Popenoe (1997). According to Adams (1998), there was rapid increase in the number of single-parent families in the latter half of the twentieth century. This change has been used by some to argue, that there is breakdown of the family values (defined as a married couple residing with their dependent offspring) with negative effects on children, families and the larger society in general. Singh (1999), and Talib (2000), suggest that single-parent families have been present in all societies over time and should not be viewed as deviant or problematic rather, as an alternative family form. Regardless of how family diversity is viewed, the increase in and prevalence of families headed by one parent (father only or mother only) has a major influence on the social, economic moral and political context of family life.
The expression “single-parenting” actually connotes a one-parent household Cox and Martins (2001). The expression single-parenting, was first formulated in 1970s. There is a general assumption that having one parent only in a household must be deficient and therefore, by definition, bad.
There is a growing number of women who become single-parents by choice. They have never been married and they will never contemplate marriage. They are economically comfortable and they tend to believe that they do not need a husband. They only want one child or two children because they feel they can cater for such children because of their high socio-economic status and achievements.
Akinbade (1993) and Akinloye (1991), are of the opinion that single-parents face more than the ordinary difficulties in raising children. According to them, single-parents usually adopt or establish adult sexual relationships that will not hurt their children, in order to provide role models to the opposite sex and to deal with the feelings of not being “normal family”. Onuoha (1995) opines that single-parents have to play the roles of two parents, but unfortunately, they do not possess the greater financial and psychological reserves at the disposal of two parents. Again, the problem in single-parenting is that, if the dominant parent has poor parenting skills, the child has another person to turn to in intact family which is not the case in single-parent families.
Researchers such as Akinboye (1987), Bakare (1993) and Uche (1998), have shown that many single-parent families lack many basic necessities of life because of lower income. These researchers opined that women are usually granted the custody of their children in the event of divorce and the bitterness they feel towards their partners do not allow them to accept any financial assistance from their partners who may not even want to provide for her and the child/children. This is to the detriment of the children’s welfare and education. For instance, in a single-parenting families where the father or the mother is handicapped financially, children in those homes find it difficult to pay their school fees as at when due; pocket money may not be given to the children, school uniform may not be provided, textbooks and educational materials may not be possessed by the children due to lack of finance in the home. The resultant effect in this situation is that the children most often dropping out of school or exhibit truancy and absenteeism which may lead to poor academic achievement Nnah (2000).
Nwanna (1991) and Onwuchekwa (1988) postulate that women who become single-parents by choice do not have financial problems because their high socio-economic status is actually the motivating factor for their choice, although, they do not have enough psychological reserve to sustain their children. They are career-oriented and high-achieving women. Their career remains their priority, thereby neglecting the psychological needs of the child. They usually have more than enough provision of their physical needs. But they face greater denial of a father figure because often times this category of single-parents do not relate or get in touch with the fathers of their children, The effect is that the children probably grow up not knowing who their father really is.
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