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Single Parents May Do as Well as Two: Study
Date:9/5/2009

Family stability may be more crucial than dual parents for child's success

SATURDAY, Sept. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Family stability -- regardless of whether it's a one- or two-parent household -- may help a child succeed in school and life, a new study shows.

The findings, by an Ohio State University professor, challenge the conventional wisdom that two-parent households are always best for children. A single parent marrying or moving in with a partner may be as disruptive to a child as a divorce, the author suggests.

"Based on this study, we can't say for sure that marriage will be a good thing for the children of single mothers, particularly if that marriage is unhealthy and does not last," Claire Kamp Dush, an assistant professor of human development and family science at Ohio State, said in a university news release.

Only in black families did Kamp Dush find a particular advantage in children always living with two parents as opposed to growing up with only one. Black children from stabled married families scored better on reading and math tests than those from single-parent families. Otherwise, regardless of race, the children of stable single-parent households did as well academically and behaviorally as their counterparts in married households.

"Our results suggest that the key for many children is growing up in a stable household, where they don't go through divorce or other changes in the family, whether that is in a single-parent home or a married home," she said.

The findings appear in "Marriage and Family: Perspectives and Complexities," a recently published book that Kamp Dash co-edited. She looked at information gathered from nearly 5,000 households nationwide during two long-term periods over three decades. While many past studies show an advantage for children growing up in married households, Kamp Dush notes those did not distinguish between family structure and family sta
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