Due to the ever-deluging complication of modern society and the accompanying socio-cultural factors that act upon the organizational structure of the modern-day family, it is hardly surprising that the variety of alternative family structures has continued to increase during the preceding generations. Among the most common characteristics of these alternative family structures is absence of one parent. Parental absence from the family does exist and can presumptively exercise a fundamental influence on children's development, similar to paternal absence (Hines, 2007). Amongst the consequence of absence of one parent is aggressiveness of children. According to previous research, there is a special concern of the general aggressive behavior displayed amongst most preschoolers, especially males whose fathers are partially or fully absent in their lives. The society has shown much concern on this issue. Case statistics and reports by (Hines, 2007), and others have clearly exposed the gravity of this issue.
Researchers have found that a single parent at a great deal raises aggressive children.
Single parenthood is often related with neighborhood type, which is another factor in predicting childhood aggression. This is because single parents are more likely to live in less advantaged neighborhoods. Aggressiveness in boys and girls is much seen in large urban areas where studies show that children who live in disadvantaged neighborhoods are more likely to experience events that lead to aggressive behavior that is stressful life. Single parenthood and neighborhood type gives an insight to the discrepancy found in the degree of aggression.
Research indicates that the relationship between of single parenting, economic challenges, and disadvantaged neighborhoods explains the variance discovered in the level of aggressiveness among preschoolers. According to research, some single parent families may not fall into the disadvantaged category because their singleness is resultant from divorce, thus, their previous stability is maintained. Thus, they may have less aggressiveness and may even have authoritative parenting, thus outweigh the aggressive effects of a single parent family structure. In addition, children change their play style changes as they grow up and they could engage in structured games replacing rough outside play and the occurrence of their physical aggression increased. Research also adds that highly aggressive children end up being rejected by their friends and even deserted, as early as the age of six. This rejection from their friends perpetuates the aggressiveness of children behavior, creating a vicious behavior (Johnson & Whiffen, 2003). Oftentimes, the children become victims of the aggressive conduct do not have social skills, thus, causing the rejection by their peers.
There are several factors that lead to this aggressiveness that include, mother infant relationships, neighborhood structure, family structure, and peer influences. Current research studies have established the need to get better understanding of the connection between single parenting and aggressiveness of preschoolers. This research focuses on investigating single parenthood variables that may contribute to preschoolers’ aggressiveness such as the causes of single-parenthood, the societal perceptions of single parents, and the lifestyles of single parents. The research also looks into childhood attachment to the parent and its relation to aggressiveness (Johnson & Whiffen, 2003). This research supposes that in deed, single parenthood contributes to more aggressiveness amongst preschoolers.
The researcher used various questionnaires posted to the participants, video and voice recording, scholarly journals and books, and newsworthy articles and reports. The researcher also used structured interviews to collect information from the families that might have witnessed the setup of such single parent families
This research was carried out 3 months ago where the researcher concentrated on children from both single parent family and children that of both parents, to measure the relationship between attachment style and aggressive violent behavior for referred children.
The research had 36 participating preschoolers from Montessori Preschool in Los Angeles, California in the U.S. the participants comprised of 18 children from single parent families and 18 children from families with two parents. The participants comprised of equal number of girls and boys, that is, 18 male preschoolers and 18 female preschoolers. The participants’ ages range from 2 years to 6 years.
To facilitate and carry out the study, the researcher used questionnaires, pictures, toys, and tape recorders. The questionnaires comprised of simple questions regarding the children’s relationship with their parents, their neighborhoods, and perception of things.
Participation in the study was voluntary, participants were free to withdraw from the study at any time for any reason, and parents signed an informed consent prior to participating in the study. With the help of older guides, participants were asked to fill out several questionnaires as per the type of the questionnaire. For instance, a demographics questionnaire obtained background information such as gender, age, relationship status, and parental marital history, and parental employment status. In addition, participants were asked to state the nature of their parental attachment using a modification of the Descriptions of Parental Caregiving Style. The scale is based on Hazan and Shaver's Attachment Style Measure that categorizes adult attachment patterns as secure, avoidant, or anxious/ambivalent.
The questionnaires were reviewed and the tape recorders replayed in order to reencounter the children’s answers and emotions. According to the results, more than 50% single-parented children lived in socioeconomically disadvantaged neighborhoods compared to children from two-parent families. According to 80% of preschoolers from the single-parent families, the parent was either very strict, but most were very tolerating of their children’s behavior. On the other hand, children from two-parent families described one or both of their parents as disciplinarians. All children raised by two parents said that whenever one of their parents was away working, they were left with the other parents, one the other hand, children raised by one parent, said that whenever their parent was away, they were left with a babysitter or in the neighborhood. In fact, some of the children stated that their parents left them locked in the houses playing video games and watching television.
The findings indicated that 40% of the children raised form single parent families were too attached to their parents while others were very distant from their one parent. Some of the children raised by single parents were in fact shy and did not even know the kind of job their parents did. On the question of children’s attachment with their parents, Hazan and Shaver's Attachment Style Measure scale that was used indicated substantially that there was an unbalanced relation between the preschoolers’ attachment to their single parent and their aggressive nature. For instance, it was evident that some preschoolers who were too attached to their parents developed arrogance and aggressiveness, while some who were not as attached to their one parent felt insecure and used aggressiveness as a coping mechanism.
Preliminary analysis indicated that most children from single parent families lived in disadvantaged neighborhoods that are usually filled with aggressive youths and adults. This was attributed to the fact that most two-parent families have more income from both parents and can afford better neighborhoods, while single-parent families have limited income. The findings also indicated that children from two-parent families might be more disciplined because there is a higher likelihood that one of the parents if not both, is a disciplinarian.
In addition, the parents are rarely left on their own, thus, they are better behaved. On the other side, children from single-parent families may have very tolerating parents who may not strictly discipline them. Moreover, when the parents go working, they are unable to discipline the children because they leave these children in the aggressive neighborhoods or with baby sitters who are not disciplinarians. Moreover, the fact that some single parents left their children in the company of video games and television, is a contributing factor to their aggressiveness. This is because, many video games are aggressive in nature, and television programs such as WWF wrestling are also aggressive, thus, the children imitate these media, ending up being aggressive as well.
According to the study, the hypothesis of the researcher was proven that in deed, preschoolers become more aggressive when one parent is absent or that preschoolers from single parents and more aggressive compared to those from two-parent families.