Children have a right of being brought up by both parents who are expected to show love and affection. Kids who grew up seeing a father and mother have higher chances of becoming more stable in life. However, this is not always the case as some children find themselves in a dysfunctional family consisting of a single parent as noted in ‘The Glass Menagerie’play. This family consists of Laura who is the mother, Tom and Amanda.
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The husband left the mother to bring up children alone despite the emotional and financial problems facing the family (Tueth). Devastating consequences of fatherlessness are portrayed in this play as the father’s figure in the family is lacking. Amanda wishes her daughter Laura to get married one day, revealing how incomplete she feels following her husband’s absence. This paper explores the psychological problems associated with single parenthood and its effect on children.
Laura is having difficulties coping with the external environment as a result of her minor disability as well as the broken bondage between her and the husband. Her son, Tom, takes the role of the father and works to provide for the family. He is determined to pursue his personal goals but the current situation cannot allow him to do so (Nieuwenhuis and Laurie 98). At his age, Tom should be busy chasing after his dreams but since his father abandoned them, he has to help his mother take care of the family.
As noted in the play, children brought up by a single parent are at a high risk of not attaining their career path. These children are prone to social vices such as alcohol and drug abuse as they attempt to escape reality. Peer pressure can influence them to indulge in criminal activities in a bid to make ends meet. In the play, Tom is in the surge of becoming an alcoholic as he comes home late and drunk as a way of running away from the reality of the family situation (Tueth). Amanda is in great fear that the son is developing his father’s behaviors, which could ruin his life.
The play makes it clear that a father plays a significant role in the family. His absence signals a family’s weak social control through decreased guardianship and poor supervision. The affected family is likely to face poor social, capital, financial, and emotional problems. Fathers take an important place as far as community socialization is concerned. They act as role models in enforcing community norms and eliminating social stigma.
As a member of the family, a father manifests himself through his actions and guidance (Bryfonski 38). Children brought up without the presence of their fathers suffer individual problems as portrayed in the play. Laura suffers from low self-esteem, a situation that makes it hard for her to socialize with the outside world. Tom on his part feels detached from the family entity and spends most of his time away with his friends.
A father’s figure is a source of social security and a breadwinner to a family. If the father is absent, the mother takes both roles as presented in the play, where Amanda is selling subscriptions to feed the family. She is also the sympathy provider as well as the authoritarian whereas Tom becomes an independent adult (Tueth). This presents a conflict of perception and roles of what is required in a family setup explaining a common occurrence in single parenting.
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In families where the father is deadbeat, boys especially first-borns try to take up the role. Unfortunately, they end up conflicting with their mothers, since they want to control everything in the family. Tom feels he has become an adult and tends to react angrily to his mother when she tries to curb his drunkenness. The situation becomes conflicting as Amanda tries to reassert her position as a parent forcefully. The conflict in this play brings out the modern domestic disaster in many single parenthood settings as the mother and the son try to maneuver for control (Bryfonski 78). Laura is also trying to fill the gap left by helping her mother despite her disability. She is playing a role by alleviating the needs of both the mother and brother.
Children brought up in a fatherless setup live in denial and tend to suffer many psychological problems. This explains why Tom seems to disrespect his mother as he feels he must play his father’s role. On her side, Laura has found a source of social and emotional support when facing stressful moments. She sees Victrola as a father figure showing that she is affected by his absence. This depicts how wives are affected by the absence of a husband. The situation brings out family disintegration as a result of past elements that impinge on the present. Father’s loss as well as the economic hardships of the day greatly contributes to the downfall of the family (Tueth). From this scenario, it is evident that the father is a vital character in the family.
A father is as important as the mother is during child development. A child should be attached to both parents from birth to adulthood. When a father is involved in a child’s development, there is a positive health outcome to the overall maturity. A father offers authoritative parenting, which leads to better social, emotional, behavioral, and academic outcomes (Williams 35). He ensures that children grow with high levels of self-control, confidence, and sociability.
A child has a right to be brought up by both parents and if the father abandons the family, a gap is created making it hard for them to cope with the situation. Children grow reminiscing the past but focus on the negative memory. For instance, Laura brings back the memories about her high school days where she contracted a disease, which led to her limping (Williams 45). The memory becomes formative destroying her self-esteem and her present seems to have stagnated. Moreover, Laura is termed as delicate and panicky because she is seen as a victim of fate and fragile mentally.
Girls suffer most as a result of single parenting as both parents play important role in mentoring them. They are delicate and disadvantaged because society has an assumption that they cannot make it in life. The situation exposes girls to a greater risk of suffering problems such as early pregnancy and school dropout increasing their chances of becoming single mothers at a tender age. Unwanted pregnancies and early marriages force girls to abandon school to take care of the child single-handedly (Tabatabaei and Maryam 93). Amanda is fearing that her daughter Laura may end up being a single parent and wishes that she gets married.
The case of Laura explains that children brought up by a single parent find it hard to engage in meaningful relationships. She experiences poor interactions with others causing a devastating impact on her life. Lack of a fatherly figure is associated with anxiety and stress since they had never paired well (Williams 45). The relationship with society is also affected as witnessed when Laura went to buy food on credit. She tells her mother how people perceive her citing fears that society is judging her according to her physical appearance as well as the family’s economic status.
Single parents are determined to support happy and stable lives for their children. However, sometimes the children express conflicting opinions, which brings more trouble to the family. For instance, Amanda wants her daughter to embrace a life that she abandoned following her engagement with Wingfield. In her attempt to help her daughter attain a successful life, she is reliving her youth (Skinner et al. 502). She pushes her to interact with people forgetting that she suffers from low self-esteem and requires assistance to promote her self-worth. In such a situation, parents should take full control of their children as Amanda is seen pushing Laura to entertaining suitors, taking classes, and becoming a social creature. She resists what society perceives as the role for women as she actively fights her mother’s offer.
Sometimes people find themselves bringing up their children singlehandedly due to diverse reasons. Such a family is usually incomplete and the absence of one parent is usually felt throughout the family’s life. Children are the most affected by the absence of the father as portrayed in the play (Bryfonski 48). The problem affects the development of a child socially, emotionally, and academically. Without these important aspects of life, it is difficult for a child to succeed. School dropouts, early marriages, alcohol and drug abuse, and engaging in crime are some of the effects of single parenthood on children.
Society judges such a family harshly, a situation that affects the relationship of the children with the outside world (Tabatabaei and Maryam 93). Deadbeat fathers should understand that they are part of their children’s growth and development for them to attain a successful future. Financial and social support is a man’s responsibility to his family as every child has a right to be brought up and protected by both parents.
In conclusion, the play presents a dysfunctional family where the father abandons the family leaving the woman to take care of their two children. The wife, daughter, and son are affected in many ways and they feel his absence differently. The wife develops a positive reminiscence of her past while the daughter has a negative memory. Tom sees his father’s absence from a different perspective, as he seems to take after her father’s behaviors.
Staying out for long, drinking, and coming late explain an irresponsible man, a character in his father. A father’s figure is important in a family setting, as he is perceived as a role model by society. The case shows psychological problems that a family undergoes in the absence of a father. They lack guidance that hinders their ability to deal with social and financial issues. The affected family is likely to suffer social stigma and find difficulties fitting in society.
Bryfonski, Dedria. Family Dysfunction in Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie Social Issues in Literature. Greenhaven Publishing LLC, 2013.
Nieuwenhuis, Rense, and Laurie Maldonado. The Triple Bind of Single-Parent Families: Resources, Employment, and Policies to Improve Well-Being. Policy Press, 2018.
Skinner, Christine, et al. “Child Maintenance and Social Security Interactions: The Poverty Reduction Effects in Model Lone Parent Families across Four Countries.” Journal of Social Policy vol 4, no. 63, 2017, pp. 495-516.
Tabatabaei, Omid, and Maryam Mohammadi Sarab. “The Psychological Perception of the Glass Menagerie from Author’s Perspective.” Journal of Applied Studies in Language vol 4, no.1, 2020, pp. 90-96.
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Tueth, Michael. “Family Troubles: Reviving ‘The Glass Menagerie”. America the Jesuit Review, 2013. Web.
Williams, Tennessee. The Glass Menagerie. New Directions Publishing, 2011.