Children brought up by single mothers are generally well-adjusted, with positive feelings about family life, a new study says.The findings showed that children raised in both heterosexual two-parent families and single mother families had no significant differences in adjustment.
“Between the ages of 4 and 9, donor-conceived children in solo mother families generally seem to be doing well,” said Sophie Zadeh from University of Cambridge in Britain.
However, children raised by single mothers were found to raise questions about the absence of a father in their families.
On the other hand, most of such children reported high or very high levels of enjoyment at school and had at least one friend.
While, some expressed a desire for just trivial changes, others desired no change when asked about changing their family circumstances.
“Our study suggests that what matters most for children’s outcomes in solo mother families is not the absence of a father, nor donor conception, but the quality of parenting and positive parent-child relationships,” Zadeh added.
“But, we don’t yet know how these children will fare over time, or what they will think and feel about being donor-conceived and/or growing up without a father in the home as they grow older,” Zadeh pointed out.
The number of children born to single women is increasing, partly as a result of social and legislative changes (in most jurisdictions) in the rights to parenthood.
Higher levels of financial difficulties within the solo mother families and higher levels of parenting stress, were each associated with higher levels of child adjustment problems.
Mothers too, mostly reported that their children had neutral or mixed feelings about the absence of a father, although qualitative analysis of mothers’ reports showed that conversations about fathers were a prominent feature of family life.
For the study, the team evaluated 51 solo mother families who were compared (both quantitatively and qualitatively) with 52 heterosexual two-parent families with at least one donor-conceived child aged 4-9 years.
The results were presented at the Annual Meeting of European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) in Helsinki, recently.