Single Mothers and Sons Relationships

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Literature Review

In this chapter, a detailed review of the existing literature was provided. The chapter starts with a description of the methods of research used to obtain peer-reviewed literature. The chapter then provides a detailed review of existing theories. Black psychology theory and Systems Theory were used to support the study. Factors that influence parenting of adolescents, such as culture, social status, gender, level of discipline and academic excellence of a child, religious support, government support, personal relationship between mother and child are also discussed. The chapter provided a synthesis of research findings and a critique of previous research methods then concluded with a summary.

Methods of Searching

The literature review was a critical element of the study. According to Benner et al. (2016), when conducting research, it is important to review findings made by other scholars. The process not only provided background information but also identified gaps in the existing knowledge. Sources used in this chapter were obtained from peer-reviewed journal articles. University’s library was used to assist to locate journal articles and other sources.

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An online search also made it possible to find current articles on the research topic. Key-words such as “single parenting, African American mothers, and parenting adolescents,” made it possible for the researcher to locate relevant materials for the study. Some of the databases that proved useful included Google Scholar, Journal Store (Jstor), Academic Search, Pro-Quest, and EBSCO Information Services.

The databases were used to locate recently published journal articles about single parenting, especially among African American women. The importance of this study is that it will provide parenting guidelines that can help single African American mothers cope with the various challenges they face.

Theoretical Orientation for the Study

It was necessary to analyze specific theories relevant to this study. According to Brody et al. (2014), theoretical orientation for the study offers a researcher a basis upon which ideas should be developed. Single African American female’s experience of being mothers to their adolescent sons can effectively be identified by different theories and concepts (Dörnyei & Ushioda, 2013). Two theoretical concepts were found to be relevant to the research topic. They include black psychology theory and systems theory. Each theory was analyzed and used to support the study. The primary theoretical implication is to provide a detailed description of the lived experience of the single African American mothers of parenting adolescent sons.

Black Psychology Theory

One of the emerging theories used to describe the African American social setting is the black psychology theory. Elliott et al. (2015), defines black psychology theory as a concept that explains the beliefs, behavior, attitude, interactions, and feelings of the African American (also referred to as Blacks in this chapter). The theory has developed over time, and as observed by Barnett and Scaramella (2013), was based on the social environment of Black Americans.

One of the main strengths of this theory is that it makes it possible to understand the historical injustices that have made most of the African Americans less privileged in the country (Johnsen & Friborg, 2015). It also identifies challenges that still make it difficult to eradicate racism. The weakness of this theory is that it ignores challenges that other minority groups face in the country. The theory compares with the system theory in that both of them focus on the social systems and structures of society. However, the black psychology theory specifically focuses on the challenges that African Americans have to face in the United States.

Black psychology theory has been used in this paper to help explain why African Americans are disadvantaged when compared to other races in the United States. Pierre and Jackson (2014) argue that the United States has made impressive steps in the fight against racism. However, a lot still needs to be done to address this vice at school, in the workplace, or various socio-economic and political settings (Jarvis et al., 2013).

Recent studies have found out that Whites are more likely to be favored in the workplace than Blacks are (Haefner, 2014). The same trend where Whites are given preferential treatment is common in institutions of higher education in the country (Haefner, 2014). Such practices deny a section of the society the opportunity to achieve economic progress.

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African Americans often find themselves on the defensive whenever the issue of racism emerges. According to Brannon, Markus, and Taylor (2015), American society is still divided along racial lines, with Blacks considered inferior to Whites. The racial division emerged from the history of Africans in America. Most Africans came to the United States during the colonial era as slaves (Emmen et al., 2013).

As Wang and Kenny (2014) note, American society highly cherished the caste system by that time, and it meant that African Americans could not achieve socio-economic and political success through any means, primarily due to their skin pigmentation. When the Emancipation Proclamation was issued in 1863, there was the promise that every American citizen would be free, but the perception towards Black Americans never changed. Slavery was abolished in 1865, several decades after independence.

It took several decades for African American men to gain the right to vote in this country. However, that did not help in countering the negative perception that Whites had towards Blacks (Duffy, Blustein, Diemer, & Autin, 2016). Blacks who emigrated from Africa to the United States since independence did little to change the perceptions that the society had towards them (Percy, Kostere, & Kostere, 2015). Most Blacks were job seekers willing to do anything for the least possible pay. It strengthened the narrative that Black can only be servants (Pauker, Apfelbaum, & Spitzer, 2015). Currently, American society still seems to be segregated along racial lines.

Systems Theory

System Theory, developed by Bertalanffy (1968), is also relevant for the proposed study. According to Bertalanffy (1969), some models, laws, and principles apply to generalized systems, irrespective of the nature of their elements, kind, relations, or forces between them.

A family unit is one example of a system that could be guided by principles, as explained in this theory. According to Brown (2016), every member of the family has a role to play and the experience that one gets largely depends on how well each person accomplishes their responsibilities. Under normal circumstances, it is often expected that every member will meet the expectations of the rest of the family members. When that happens, everyone will be satisfied within the family setting.

In a family-run by a single mother, one must understand the uniqueness of the burden that she has to bear. When both parents are present, there is always a shared responsibility (Bendassolli, 2013). Even if one of the parents is not fully employed, they may offer emotional support to one another as they seek to provide the best environment for their family. For a single mother, the benefit of sharing parenting responsibility is lost (AlYahmady & Alabri, 2013).

It is expected that she will meet all the material needs of the child (Hanson, 2014). Normally, at one moment she may be overwhelmed. She may fail to meet the financial expectations of the child. In other cases, she may not be present to offer the child emotional support and guidance because of the need to work to meet the family’s financial needs. Any such failure on the part of the parent, as explained in this theory, may affect the entire family system. As a result, the child may easily engage in socially unacceptable practices (Clinard, 2015). When that happens, the mother may be affected negatively.

Review of the Literature

Parenting is a widely studied topic and some of the concepts that were investigated in this project have been addressed by other scholars. Barnett and Scaramella (2013) explained that socio-economic and political changes in society meant that some realities have changed over the past seven decades for both Whites and Blacks in the United States. A century ago, women in the United States were not allowed to vote, and only a few of them were active in the corporate world (Varner & Mandara, 2013).

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However, that has changed. The socio-economic and political changes meant that experiences a single African American woman had when raising a son in 1930 were different from that in 2018 (Williams & Smalls, 2015). These changes mean that revisiting the topic is important to understand the positive steps that have been made and areas that still need the attention of society (Pachankis et al., 2015). The literature review section reviews findings made by other scholars who investigated related topics.

Single Parenting in the United States

According to recent statistics, single parenting is becoming a common phenomenon in the U.S. Williams and Smalls (2015) argued that single parenting may be caused by divorce, separation, incarceration of one of the partners, or death of a partner. According to Irvine et al. (2013), the primary causes of single parenting in the country are divorce and separation of the partners. Barnett and Scaramella (2013) argued that now more than ever, many marriages end up in divorce before their fifth year.

The phenomenon is not unique, but the rate at which American marriages are ending in divorce or separation is concerning, as Barnett and Scaramella (2013) observed. The statistics show that the number of children living with an unmarried mother rose consistently since the 1960s. In 1960, less than 10% of children were raised with unmarried mothers. The number has significantly increased to 24% in 2010 (Blankstein, Noguera, Kelly, & Tutu, 2016).

Whites are the least affected group, although the problem is also becoming prevalent among the White race. In 1960, about nine percent of White children were raised by unmarried mothers as shown in the statistics below. The number has more than doubled to 19% in 2010 (Johnsen & Friborg, 2015). Hispanics are also experiencing a similar problem. In 1978, about 18% of Hispanic children were raised by single mothers. The number is expected to increase as cases of divorce are on the rise.

The social problem of single parenting affects African American mothers more than any other population in the United States. Since the 1960s, the number of African American children raised by single mothers has been more than twice the country’s average (Cooper & Norcross, 2016). In 1960, less than 10% of all American children were raised by single mothers. At that time, 20% of African American children were under the care of single mothers (Atzaba-Poria, Deater-Deckard, & Bell, 2014).

In 1990, 54% of African American minors were parented by single mothers. At that time, the country’s single-parent average was 22%. As Leech (2016) explained, the problem is not as prevalent today as it was in the 1990s, but Blacks are still the group most negatively impacted. In 2010, 50% of African American children were parented by single mothers, while the country’s average was 24% (Benner et al., 2016). The prevalence of this problem among African Americans made it necessary to narrow down the study to this group because it is the most impacted.

Studies show that one of the leading causes of divorce and separation in the U.S. is infidelity. According to Stinson (2013), modern technologies, especially the growing popularity of smartphones and other communication gadgets and software have made it easy for couples to trace activities and determine if one is unfaithful. The rate at which men are cheating on their wives has not changed much, according to a study conducted by Nobles (2013). However, it is easier than ever for wives to determine if they are cheating. On the other hand, the rate at which women are cheating on their spouses has increased significantly in the modern society, compared to a century ago (Johnsen & Friborg, 2015).

The emergence of social media platforms is another factor that is straining relationships. According to a report by Brown (2016), social media can be very addictive. Some people cannot spend more than 30 minutes of their free time without visiting Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and WhatsApp. They are so addicted to social media that they no longer have time for their families (Jeynes, 2015). Traditionally, couples were expected to have family time together after work to discuss fundamental issues, such as the academic progress of children, financial status of the family, challenges the couple encounters, and related topics (Wang & Kenny, 2014).

However, that is no longer the case. After work, many couples spend time on social media sharing with friends and family members. The two may be physically close, but there is no connection because of the time they spend chatting with others miles away. One partner may need the attention of the other, but it may not be easy to get it because of the obsession with social media. Leech (2016) explained that in such instances, a rift will emerge between the couples and they will find it difficult to stay together. The outcome of such undesirable situations is a separation or divorce.

Social networking sites not only distract couples from giving their partners the attention they need but also promote vices dangerous to the unity of a family. According to Haefner (2014), it is easier for one to make sexual advances on a peer after work than when having a face-to-face meeting. Those who are shy find social media a perfect platform for seduction (Cooper & Norcross, 2016). When a partner finds such compromising messages on their partner’s social media account, the relationship may be strained.

In other cases, a partner may be attracted to or enticed by a peer who reaches out to them through social media. Such cases are common when the romance and attention are lacking in the family. When such individuals realize that someone is willing to give them the attention they need, they can easily compromise their marriage vows (Doody & Noonan, 2013). When infidelity occurs, the fate of the family is uncertain.

The emergence of hook-up sites seeking to connect men and women seeking love or casual relationships has worsened the problem. Ashley Madison, Adult Friend Finder, and Fling.com are some of the popular sites people visit when they realize the romance they need is lacking at home (Hajar, 2016). When a partner starts seeking love and attention from outside the family, chances are high that the relationship may soon end.

The increased incidence of single parenting is often blamed on the empowerment of women. In the past, women were forced to endure physical, emotional, and verbal abuse from their husbands (Stinson, 2013). They had to depend solely on their husbands to provide for their families. The love for their children and the fear of the unknown would make them withstand all the abuses for the sake of having a stable family (Doody & Noonan, 2013).

However, that is no longer the case. Some women can now afford to lead independent lives without the financial support of their husbands. Women are academically empowered and understand their rights in a family setting (Harris, Sutherland, & Hutchinson, 2013). As such, whenever women feel their dignity is compromised and their love is taken for granted, they do not hesitate to move out of the relationship (Ledgerton, 2013). With the current favorable laws that compel men to provide financial support to their children after separation or divorce, the fear of the unknown is always addressed. It means that women no longer fear leading single lives.

The increasing relevance of education and the need for economic empowerment in American society results in some women to disregard the need for life-long partners. The problem is majorly affecting the middle-class (Leech, 2016). These single women spend a lot of time at school, seeking to gain relevant skills that would enable them to achieve success in the corporate world (Doody & Noonan, 2013). Once they start working, they have a focus on achieving career success. They spend most of their time working and amassing wealth. When they are in their early to mid-thirties, they realize they need to have families.

At this stage, single women take different approaches to achieve the goals they desire. Some make a deliberate choice to have children and lead the life of a single mother (Hess & Henig, 2015). They feel that with their financial might, they can support their families without having a male partner. These single women believe that being committed to a partner may limit their ability to advance their careers (Ebert et al., 2015).

They do not want to be controlled by a partner who will demand to know what she is doing in every instance. Another group, as Brown (2016) explained, opts to get married and settle down with a chosen partner. However, along the way, they realize they cannot withstand a life where every action they take is subject to scrutiny. Such individuals quickly find their ways out of their relationships, opting to care for their children as single mothers.

The law is clear about the need for men to support their children, whether after a divorce or when paternity has been established. According to Wang and Kenny (2014), a woman raising a son as a single parent should get regular financial support from the child’s father to meet the necessary needs. The problem is that sometimes implementing the law is not easy. Brown (2016) explained that cases have been witnessed where some men disappear, never to be seen again after their divorce.

Others consider resigning from their formal jobs to take manual tasks where it would be difficult to track down their earnings (Milkie, Nomaguchi, & Denny, 2015). Many succeed in avoiding the financial responsibility of caring for their children, especially if the mother is given full custody. In such cases, the responsibility of providing for the children falls on the mother.

The law is expected to protect single mothers by making men financially responsible for their children even after the divorce. Ford and Moore (2013) note that these laws often encourage women to seek divorce when they feel uncomfortable in their marriages. Single mothers suddenly realize the law they expected to protect them is not very effective in doing so (Katz, 2015). They have to budget for the little resources they have to ensure the needs of the family are met. However, the American system is not as favorable to women as it is to men (Williams & Smalls, 2015). Similarly, when the woman is an African American, the experience is worse.

Factors That Define the Parenting Experience

According to Ford and Moore (2013), various factors defined experiences that single African American mothers go through when parenting adolescent sons. However, existing literature does not provide a detailed explanation of the experience of these single mothers of their relationship with their adolescent sons. It is challenging for a single mother to care for an adolescent son alone, even if she is financially empowered. However, it is important to recognize that some single African American mothers go through more traumatizing experiences than White single mothers do (Emmen et al., 2013). In this section, it was necessary to identify specific factors that defined the parenting experience as discussed below.

Culture

Culture is one of the most important factors that define the approach of parenting. As Haefner (2014) explained, the United States is one of the most demographically diverse countries in the world. Institutions, such as technology, schools, workplace environments, and media have tried to break the cultural barrier (Wang & Kenny, 2014). However, Stinson (2013) noted that different social groups have different practices based on their backgrounds.

Culture is a major concern when raising an adolescent son. One of the main concerns is a culture that has been embraced by a majority of Americans that does not encourage parents to discuss issues related to sex with their adolescent children (Johnsen & Friborg, 2015). For some, it is a taboo for the two to engage in such conversations (Williams & Smalls, 2015). Although U.S. society is motivated by education to eradicate such beliefs, it is still uncommon to find an African American adolescent son sharing sex-related issues with their mothers. The inability of sons to discuss sex with their mothers may result in youth finding alternative ways of solving their problems.

The best alternative in the absence of a trusted male adult would be peers at school. The problem is that these peers also have no idea how the problem should be addressed (Doody & Noonan, 2013). However, that does not stop peers at school from proposing solutions, some of which may have serious consequences. For instance, a teenager may be lured into acts such as theft, burglary, and robbery to help solve financial problems.

Others may opt to use drugs as a way of overcoming emotional problems at home or school. Wang and Kenny (2014) note that most parents are often in denial when they are informed that their sons are engaged in criminal acts. Others would just pray, hoping for divine intervention to help guide their sons into the right path. When the child is exposed to harm, the mother will be subjected to the trauma of finding a solution to the problem (Tayler & Price, 2016).

It is even more frustrating when these parents realize that problems their children encounter are that which the culture limits them from discussing (Jeynes, 2015). Some mothers are forced to find trusted male adults to address the problem. Emmen et al. (2013) note that knowing the problem that one’s child is going through, but lacking the capacity to address it because of cultural limitations, can be irritating and a source of frustration.

Single African American mother’s experience of their relationship with their adolescent sons is directly affected by the culture the society embraces. According to Cohn (2016), parents are often discouraged, based on the culture that many have embraced in the country, from discussing the financial challenges they encounter with their children. As such, an adolescent son may not understand the problems that the single mother is going through to meet financial needs. Such sons may be tempted to find ways of addressing their concerns. In such cases, children may seek resolutions without parental approval.

There is always the concern that the child may opt-out of school as a way of lessening the burden. As such, Wang and Kenny (2014) observe that the majority of these single mothers suffer in silence. They go to great lengths just to ensure they meet the needs of their family (Johnsen & Friborg, 2015). Sometimes, the son may become very demanding. They want to enjoy the same benefits as their friends, unaware of the challenges their friends encounter.

Some of these demands may affect the relationship between a mother and a son (Leman, 2015). If the son’s demands are not met, the son may feel that the mother is not concerned enough to address his needs, just like other parents do (Emmen et al., 2013). On the other hand, if a parent sacrifices other important things to meet that particular need, there is always frustration, especially when the mother has to make extra effort to earn more income for the family.

Social status

Social status is one of the crucial factors that define the parenting experience of single African American mothers caring for their adolescent sons. In American society, the ability of an individual to provide for the family is important (Ford & Moore, 2013). The problem is worsened for those in urban communities, where the cost of living is very expensive (Wang & Kenny, 2014). In wealthier communities, single African American mothers who are financially empowered can meet most of the needs of their children.

Whenever they realize their adolescent sons need a mentor, they can easily make arrangements to ensure they can meet the right people who can guide them through life. Such children, although they lack the direct emotional support of a father, lead a relatively normal life. They feel that their single mother is capable of parenting them and there is always a sense of admiration.

As Stinson (2013) observed, it does not mean all children raised in wealthy neighborhoods are disciplined and successful in their academics. However, they are offered a better opportunity to facilitate their success. The wealthy single mother may have the occasional emotional pain of having to raise the son alone (Spores, 2013). Nevertheless, there is always a sense of pride and satisfaction when they realize that they are succeeding to care for their children without any support. It gives them a sense of overcoming challenges associated with single parenting.

The experience of low-income single mothers is completely different from that of the wealthy. Most low-income mothers have to take several jobs a day to make ends meet (Doody & Noonan, 2013).

They leave early in the morning and come back late at night to ensure that basic needs are met. Snyder (2016) explained that such parents rarely have time to spend with their children. They believe that providing for their families is their primary responsibility, hoping that teachers will help in offering emotional support to their children. In most cases, teachers can’t provide emotional support and personal attention to their students, especially in public schools where the population is relatively high and the pay is poor (Jeynes, 2015). Other factors may also impact the experiences of single mothers.

The neighborhood where such families reside also exposes these children to all manner of dangers. Drug trafficking and abuse, trade-in contraband goods, robbery, burglary, and gang-related activities are common in such areas. Adolescent boys are always the worst affected groups by such gang-related crime (Ford & Moore, 2013). When adolescent boys lack the fatherly guidance they need and are constantly strained financially, they find solace in gangs.

Adolescents may begin abusing and smuggling drugs without the knowledge of their parents (Elish-Piper, 2013). If interventions are not made, they may join dangerous criminal gangs, committing felonies within the neighborhood (Williams & Smalls, 2015).

It is disheartening for a single mother, working for over 13 hours a day to provide for the family, to realize that the son she cares for so much is now engaged in criminal activities. The problem is that some gangs prohibit their members from leaving or betraying the group. It means that once an adolescent becomes a member, their life, and that of the loved ones depend on the adolescent’s commitment to the gang (Wang & Kenny, 2014). They cannot leave the group unless the youth is arrested for crimes committed to avoiding the wrath of the gang. Gang involvement may be a poverty factor.

African Americans are the worst affected by the problem of poverty. Leech (2016) argued the history of the U.S. has always put African Americans at a position of disadvantage. Even after the abolition of the slave trade and slavery, African Americans have never enjoyed socio-economic and political freedom (Price & Tayler, 2015). Disparities in education is a socio-economic factor.

Some of the best educational institutions in the U.S. give priority to Whites over any other race because of the problem of racism that has remained persistent in society. According to Brown (2016), the level and quality of education that a child gets define the ability to succeed in life. The poor continue to suffer because of the system that glorifies the wealthy and Whites.

Even after struggling to obtain a college certificate, a significant portion of African Americans finds it difficult to find stable jobs in the country (Williams & Smalls, 2015). Employers in some of the Silicon Valley companies highly value the college where one graduated (Hutchin, 2013). Some of the top law firms in New York only hire law graduates from Harvard School of Law, Cambridge University, University of Manchester, and other Ivy League colleges.

The statistics show the employment status of people in three different races. Full-time employment has dropped for the majority of Americans from 2001 to 2010 (citation). Whites experienced a drop from 60.7% in 2001 to 54.5%. For African Americans, it dropped from 55.8% to 50.4% during the same period (Damaske et al., 2017). Asians had a consistent increase in the number of those in full employment, from 54.8% in 2001 to 58.3%.

Howard and McInnes (2013) note that in 2010, unemployment among African Americans increased from 9.7% in 2001 to 13.2 %. It is important to note that African Americans are the worst affected group, per the statistics presented above. Leech (2016) explained the trend was caused by multiple factors. Juvenile delinquency, inability to acquire a college education and racial discrimination are some of the leading factors that cause unemployment.

Poverty is a major factor that defines a parent’s experience of the relationship with an adolescent son. Leech (2016) explained that factors such as limited education, lack of entrepreneurial skill, and the existence of systems that disfavor a section of the society may lead to poverty. Various statistics were used to highlight the differences among ethnic groups.

As shown in the above statistics, Whites and Asians were the least affected groups. Whites have a better education than Blacks have and do not suffer from any form of prejudice (Damaske et al., 2017). On the other hand, a significant number of Asians are experts in the field of technology, making it easy for them to find employment in the country (Williams & Smalls, 2015). Asians are less affected by racism compared to Blacks (Williams & Smalls, 2015).

As shown in the above data, African Americans are some of the worst affected groups. Unlike other groups, the number of single African American mothers at risk of unemployment has been on the rise from 2001 to 2010. Brown (2016) explained that some African American single mothers are not employed because of personal reasons, but that does not mean they are at risk of becoming poor. However, many single African American mothers depend on their jobs to earn a living.

The above statistics show that poverty rates majorly affect American minority groups. In 2001, White females were the least affected group. Only 28.5% of the whites were affected during the same period (Damaske et al., 2017). The number of poor single White females has been on the rise consistently since then, to 33.7%. The slight increase may be attributed to the changing economic forces in the country. The problems of single White mothers are not worse than single African American mothers. In 2001, 42.4% of single African American mothers were considered poor. The number increased significantly to 46.2% in 2010.

As shown in the table above, single African Americans were the group most impacted. Although the economic recession in the country affected everyone, it was the worst affected group. Snyder (2016) explained that almost half of the single African American mothers struggled to provide their families with basic needs. As the population of single mothers continues to increase, the problem continues to get worse. It is important to note that when these parents struggle to meet the economic needs of their families, their experience of the relationship with their sons is affected. Sometimes they express their frustrations openly to their children when things fail to work as per their expectations. The results were not the same for every ethnic group.

Single female Asian Americans have registered improved performance. Those considered poor dropped from 30.7% to 27.7% in 2010 (Damaske et al., 2017). The findings show that the rate of absolute poverty in the United States is dropping.

The personal relationship between mother and child

The experience of a single mother can sometimes be defined by the relationship they have with their sons. Snyder (2016) explained that some parents were able to develop a close relationship with their sons based on trust and love. At the adolescent stage, a son may be able to understand some of the challenges the parent goes through to make ends meet. It means they can offer emotional support to one another.

The emotional pain of the mother is lessened by the understanding of the son. Alternatively, when the relationship is strained, the experience can be frustrating (Dickins, 2014). Having to work hard to provide for a son who does not understand and appreciate the effort the single mother is making to meet family needs can be stressful. Other factors can also strain relationships such as indiscipline and poor academic performance of an adolescent son. Single mothers may have to deal with the problem of having sons capable of stealing from them. Such experiences can be painful if there is no close friend or family to offer proper support to the mother.

According to Marotz and Kupzyk (2018), suicidal thoughts can emerge in strained environments. Some single mothers may turn to alcohol as a way of dealing with the problem. They feel that society will blame them for poor parenting (Ripley, 2013). Instead of getting rebuked for poor parenting, they opt to overcome their emotional stress by consuming alcohol. Such a decision tends to worsen an already bad situation.

Initially, substance abuse drains the little financial resources the family has. Then, the substance abuse habit makes it difficult for a single mother to spend more time at work (Patton, 2017). The extra income for the family is lost in the process. Such cases create even more problems within a family setting. Such problems often strain the relationship between a single mother and an adolescent son.

Parenting Adolescents

Parenting an adolescent is a challenging task. According to Leech (2016), “Raising an adolescent is one long, often agonizing, an exercise in the hardest part of parenting,” (p. 425). It is at this stage of parenting that one has to embrace the need for negotiation when instructing children. Teenagers tend to be rebellious at this stage of development. The physiological and psychological changes they experience are often confusing (Doody & Noonan, 2013). Adolescents need adult support to understand how to cope with these changes, while at the same time, they need their space to make independent decisions. It means that a parent must learn how to guide their children through this complex phase of development in a way that offers adolescents the ability to make independent decisions (Jackson, 2013).

During the early stages of development, children tend to view their parents and teachers as their role models. At the adolescent stage, such a child is mature enough to understand the struggles and successes of the parent (Williams & Smalls, 2015). They may either admire or resent the lifestyle of a parent based on the values and beliefs they get to embrace. The parent has to cope with and manage a child’s attitude to guide them properly.

When adolescents realize their parents do not fit into the perfect person they want to become, they start looking for other role models, which may be the beginning of the rebellion. Brown (2016) explained that once an adolescent realizes that they do not want to lead a life similar to that of the parent, he or she may develop a feeling that the parent cannot advise them on how to work towards success. Other factors may be present during this stage of development.

Peer-pressure is another serious challenge at this stage, as Leech (2016) stated The moment a teenager fails to find a role model at home, they become susceptible to influences by friends. The need to gain acceptance may force them to act in ways that may put their lives, the lives of their loved ones, or their future in danger. Most of those who are abusing drugs start their habit as an adolescent. They experiment with their lives a lot, and that may be a major problem for them and their families (Williams & Smalls, 2015). Such rebellious children may easily become delinquents and can be sent to prison at a young age.

Parenting an adolescent son poses unique challenges for a single mother. As explained above, children often perceive their parents as their role models. Normally, a son will grow up wanting to be like the father (Doody & Noonan, 2013). In the case of single mothers, the child will be raised by a single mother, who they cannot emulate. Haefner (2014) explained the challenges of an adolescent son needs the attention of the father to overcome some of the difficulties encountered at this stage of development. Most importantly, such a child grows up knowing they have to find a role model who is not the parent. A single mother may struggle to guide such a child once the perception develops in his mind that he needs a different person to offer the needed guidance.

Brown (2016) argued that such adolescents can easily be misled by male members of society, especially those they view as potential role models. The desire to learn what it takes to be a man may make adolescents trust wrong the people within their immediate community. Such an experience can be traumatizing, especially if the child takes a wrong path against the advice offered by the mother.

Mothers Experience of Their Relationship with Their Adolescents Sons

African American mothers’ experience of their relationship with their adolescent sons is a topic that is yet to receive significant attention from scholars. According to Cooper and Norcross (2016), the challenges that single mothers face in the country is well documented in the different literature. Socio-economic and emotional challenges are enormous. However, the experiences of single African American mothers’ relationship with their sons is unknown.

According to Devarakonda (2013), the majority of mothers often avoid engaging in conversations that are focused on discussing the burden they have to bear. They do not find it difficult to share the positive experiences of their relationship with their sons. For instance, when the son is disciplined, successful in school, and on the path towards greatness, it brings joy to these single mothers and they easily share such positive experiences.

However, when they have to deal with undisciplined sons who fail to understand the relevance of taking their studies seriously, they do not share the painful experiences with anyone. They may reprimand such children, but in most cases, they prefer dealing with it on their own. Doody and Noonan (2013) argued this behavior was partly caused by social pressure. Every parent wants the best for their children and it is not easy to accept that a son is taking the wrong path in life. Mothers’ experience of their relationship with their adolescent sons can be discussed in the following categories.

Physical experience is one of the important factors that cannot be ignored when undertaking this research. According to Dörnyei and Ushioda (2013), being a single mother comes with numerous physical burdens. One has to go to work daily to ensure that the material needs of the family are met to the best of her capacity. The experience can be unbearable for a mother who lacks a stable income. Taking two or three jobs a day, six days a week is not easy.

Sometimes the physical interaction between the mother and son is minimal. By the time the adolescent son leaves home to go to school, the mother has already gone to work. She may return home late in the evening when the sun is almost asleep. The limited physical interaction makes it difficult for the mother to understand issues the son may be facing at school or in social life.

When discussing a single mother’s experience of their relationship with their adolescent sons, some of the areas that cannot be ignored are the mental and emotional experiences. According to Wang and Kenny (2014), the mental or emotional experience that single parents go through is significantly different from that of two parents. As explained above, providing material needs to the family is just one of the many important responsibilities of a parent. A parent should take time with the adolescent son, understand, and address his emotional needs. It may be a problem of bullying at school or a situation where the son is struggling with the problem of self-identity (Edward, 2013).

As an African American adolescent, it may be common for the child to experience racism in various social settings. It is the responsibility of the parent to assure the child that the situation will be resolved. However, time to do that may not be available, straining the relationship between the child and parent (Farghaly, 2018). Such parents tend to be emotionally drained. The emotional pain of having to do everything while the partner is away may be overbearing.

Brown (2016) explains that the experience may be worsened when peers discuss their family dynamics and how responsibilities are shared. It increases the sense of loneliness and helplessness among some of these single mothers. In some cases when these workmates plan to take holiday trips, the single mother has to think of other extra jobs that she can take to meet the family’s financial needs. To address and cope with emotional and financial needs, some of these single African American mothers may seek spiritual guidance.

Single African American mother’s religious and spiritual experiences should also be discussed. According to Ford and Moore (2013), some single mothers often turn to religion as the solace to most of the challenges they encounter. The promise of a better life and a brighter future is always reassuring. Fusch and Ness (2015) explained that most of these single mothers tend to be religious. However, this too can be frustrating if things continually fail to work as expected.

Christian believers are promised a better life if they persevere and hold on to their faith. Christian believers may view the church as their last option in providing proper guidance to their adolescent sons (Guirdham & Guirdham, 2017). However, the problem is that sometimes church leaders may not understand the unique challenges that an adolescent is facing. When the mother realizes the son is making wrong decisions, such as engaging in drugs or acts the society considers unacceptable, she may become frustrated. The religious experience they have may change from hope for a brighter future to despair. Single mothers may realize they can no longer rely on religion to help them overcome their challenges.

The social experiences of single mothers with adolescent sons also tend to be different from that of mothers who are in stable marriages. According to Price and Tayler (2015), American society is slowly accepting divorce as an unavoidable eventuality in some marriages. In the past, society frowned upon women who walked away from their husbands. They were subjected to condemnation and blamed for the separation.

However, that is changing in modern society. The changed attitudes on divorce do not mean single mothers are fully accepted in this society. Hajar (2016) argued that it is more difficult for a single mother to find love than it is for a woman of the same age, but is childless. The problem is worse when the child is an adolescent son. Hess and Henig (2015) stated that many men tend to avoid getting into relationships where they have to bear the burden for other irresponsible men. The feeling that the adolescent son will not view the man with respect and love as a step-father only complicates the problem. It makes it difficult for single mothers to lead to normal social lives.

Single mothers may desire to have a man who respects and loves them, as every woman would want. However, single mothers also realize they have an adolescent son who must be cared for due to the absence of the father. The experience can be frustrating. Many are forced to settle down with older men who are willing to accept their sons. It may be the only way for single mothers to find a suitable mate for marriage (Patton, 2017). The affection a mother has towards a child is another experience that should be considered.

Hojjat and Moyer (2017) explained that a mother’s love for her child comes naturally and without any condition. Everything that she does is motivated by love, concern, and a feeling of responsibility. The problem is that in some cases, this experience may be affected by different factors, such as parental separation.

In the initial stages of the separation, the affection the mother had towards the husband shifts to the son. Everything that she does will revolve around the son. However, things may change when the adolescent son becomes rebellious. According to Howard and McInnes (2013), the single mother will expect respect and love from the son. When that is lacking, the level of affection she has towards him may lessen.

Although love cannot easily be diminished, sometimes frustration may cause the mother to find it difficult to express affection. It often happens when the child becomes disrespectful and unwilling to follow instructions, either at school or at home. In the next section, studies on challenges that single African American mothers may encounter when parenting their adolescent sons because of their demographical class were discussed.

Demographical Differences and Consequences

Single African American mothers experience many struggles while parenting their adolescent sons. According to Barnett and Scaramella (2013), American society still treats people of different genders and races differently. Women are becoming successful in the corporate world and many are now holding senior positions in large companies across the country. However, women still trail men in terms of the ease with which they can be employed and the salaries earned (Johnsen & Friborg, 2015).

According to Stinson (2013), most employers prefer working with men than women because of various stereotypical reasons. It is easier for an American man with the same qualifications as a woman to get employment in the U.S. The salary scale also favors men. According to Brown (2016), “Today, on average, a woman earns 80.5 cents for every dollar a man earns, and women’s median annual earnings are $10,086 less than men’s” (p. 340). The pay disparity means that economically, it is more difficult for a single mother to raise an adolescent son than a single father.

Brown (2016) also observed that single mothers were more vulnerable to economic exploitation. Single mothers highly value economic stability even if they are exploited. These parents know that getting a decent job in the U.S. may take longer when shifting from one job to another. Given that they lack any other support, they may prefer to remain at their current jobs, even if their salary is lower than their male peers.

The problem that women face in society as single mothers are worse if they are African Americans. A study by Jeynes (2015) showed that African American’s were less likely to get to the best colleges in the country compared to their white peers who scored the same grades in their final year of college. Institutions of learning in the country are still structured to favor Caucasians at the expense of African Americans. In the job market, the same trend is witnessed.

Williams, Priest, and Anderson (2016) reported that “in 2015, the hourly pay gap between Blacks and Whites widened to 26.7%, with Whites making an average of $25.22 an hour compared to $18.49 for Blacks” (p. 410). It is upsetting that the more the society is trying to fight racism and its negative consequences, the more things seem not to change (Fraga, 2016). The statistics show that the situation is getting even worse.

The current wage gap is bigger than it was in the past. Wilson, Henriksen, Bustamante, and Irby (2016) reiterated that “almost 40 years ago, in 1979, the wage gap between Blacks and Whites was 18.1%, with Whites earning an inflation-adjusted average of $19.62 an hour and Blacks were earning $16.07 an hour” (p. 198). About 100 years ago, the justification for the wage gap was that African Americans were less educated compared to Caucasians. However, that is no longer the case.

Brown (2016) stated that discrimination has been one of the leading reasons for the wage gap. The American system highly favors Whites, not just because of their numerical strength in the country, but also the belief they are superior (Hines Holcomb, & McCoy, 2013). A study conducted by Brown (2016) found that Blacks do not hesitate to employ Whites. On the other hand, some Whites still consider giving Blacks the last priority when hiring or promoting employees. The most unfortunate thing, as explained in black psychology theory, is that some Blacks have resigned to their fate and have come to believe that Whites are superior (Doody & Noonan, 2013). For a single African American female raising an adolescent son in this society, all odds are against her and the experience can be frustrating.

Gender

The experience of single parenting can also be defined by gender. According to Ford and Moore (2013), it is more difficult for a single African American woman with an adolescent son to get a committed partner than it is for a male of the same race and in a similar situation to remarry. The problem is that American society still embraces the belief that a man should be the provider for the family (Doody & Noonan, 2013).

It means that for most men, they view a woman with an adolescent son as a double responsibility. On the other hand, a woman may not have a problem marrying a man with an adolescent son because she knows the man will provide for the family. These single mothers not only suffer from the huge financial burden they have to bear meeting the needs of the family but also have to deal with a complex love life (Johnsen & Friborg, 2015).

Some of them are not looking for men to offer them financial support, but someone they can share their life with while planning for the future (Wang & Kenny, 2014). However, planning for the future with a partner may have to be sacrificed because of being a mother to adolescent sons.

Leech (2016) explained that some men find it comfortable marrying women with infants so they can instill the right virtues in them. However, that is not possible for an adolescent. The fear that teenagers will not grant them the respect they deserve as a father figure often drive many men away from such mothers. Snyder (2016) noted that out of frustration, some single mothers resort to marrying men twice their age, not because they are in love, but because of the desire to have some sort of support. Some of these challenges may strain the relationship between a mother and an adolescent son.

Level of discipline and academic excellence

The behavior of a child and academic performance also has an impact on the experiences of a parent. Slonim (2014) explained that although it is challenging to care for an adolescent son, parents get motivated when they have disciplined and academically intelligent sons. When an adolescent son follows instructions given in school and at home, and avoids all forms of trouble, the mother will not be troubled with the thought of them being in problem situations.

An adolescent who is a solid academic performer also gives hope to the parent (Williams & Smalls, 2015). Although the trend is changing among the rich, many low-income Americans still believe they can escape from poverty through their children. Some parents believe that when their children succeed in school and get stable, well-paying jobs, their children can provide them with a better lifestyle than the one they had before (Jeynes, 2015).

Conversely, the experience that a mother of an intelligent son would have is different from that with a poor performing son. Many families in this country still believe that success can only be achieved through education. When a son is limited academically, there is the feeling that he will lead the same desperate lifestyle as the poor parents (Hines &Holcomb‐McCoy, 2013). The single mother loses hope needed to parent a child during this delicate stage of development. Other social factors exist.

Religious support

Religious beliefs sometimes offer women much-needed emotional support. According to Slonim (2014), the number of women who regularly go to church in the U.S. is almost twice that of men. When parenting an adolescent son, a single mother may have problems offering them the guidance they need to become responsible men (Cooper & Norcross, 2016). They may also lack the capacity to understand what these teenagers experience during this stage of development (Doody & Noonan, 2013).

However, church and other religious institutions can be of great assistance in many ways. Among members of the congregation, such a son can find a role model who can guide him as necessary. Many churches offer guidance and counseling to their members (Hojjat & Moyer, 2017). By offering guidance and counseling, an adolescent son can visit the pastor and discuss issues affecting the child’s life at school or home.

The mother of the adolescent can also get guidance on how to achieve success as a single parent. Youth groups in churches are often guided by the principles and practices of Christianity (Hines & Holcomb‐McCoy, 2013). Negative influences and peer pressure may not have a serious impact on adolescents because of the close guidance they get from church. A study by Barnett and Scaramella (2013) found out that women who go to church regularly have better experiences when parenting their teenage sons than those who do not go to church.

Other than the emotional support and guidance that they get from the congregation and church leaders, there is also a sense of hope they get. Women who attend church are reminded that their hard work may not be paid on earth, but God in heaven will surely reward them (Williams & Smalls, 2015). Although that may not make sense to non-believers, such assurances require faith among Christians. It makes them believe that there is a reason why they should continue with their struggle, however painful it may seem. Without such emotional support, one cannot easily overcome the numerous challenges of parenting an adolescent son.

Single African American mothers’ experience of the relationship with their sons may seem to improve when they get proper religious support. According to Johnsen and Friborg (2015), most of the local churches (given that Christianity is the dominant religion in the country) have youth groups meant to guide adolescents at this delicate stage of development. In these groups, they learn how to become responsible sons and members of society. They learn how to control their desires and needs both at home and at school. Nestor and Schutt (2014) explained that religious leaders can converse with these teenagers and explain to them that families tend to have different financial capacities.

As such, being too demanding to a parent may only worsen an already bad financial position of the family. Such a child may become rational in his demands, which can be a relief to the parent. Spending time in religious youth groups minimizes the chances of the adolescent son engaging in criminal activities. Most of his time may be spent reading the Bible and engaging in socially acceptable activities. The mother may be less worried about the adolescent son. Religious leaders and peers in these groups can also help the son have a proper identity of self. All these factors may improve the experiences of the mother. Other institutions may offer parental support.

Government support

The cost of living in some of the leading cities in the United States is prohibitive. For a poor single African American mother, the financial burden may be too great to bear (Wang & Kenny, 2014). Government-sponsored social support may help ease the pain of parenting a son in such demanding conditions. Public housing is one of the most important social supports these parents need. The fact that these houses are subsidized means that these parents will pay less rent. They can spend their hard-earned income on other equally important needs.

The government has also introduced universal health care for all Americans. Snyder (2016) explained the cost of quality health care services in the country is very high. Before the introduction of universal health care plans, many poor families were struggling to access these services. However, the plans have assisted many individuals and families (Doody & Noonan, 2013). Single African American females parenting their adolescent sons in the U.S. experience great financial difficulty if they do not qualify for these social support services, regardless if they are low-income parents (Slonim, 2014). Studies show that those who immigrate into the country illegally are the worst affected group.

Direct government support, such as subsidized housing and food assistance, may lessen the financial burden of parents. However, Embrick (2015) warned that it may not necessarily improve a mother’s experience of their relationship with their sons. In some cases, it may be worse.

Adolescence is a very sensitive stage of development (Feld, 2013). Having a sense of belonging and acceptance among peers is critical to these teenagers. Their ego can easily be broken by simple criticism, such as a peer telling them that they are so poor that they have to be supported by the government (Signil, 2016). The support they get from the government is expected to bring joy to a mother and her son. In such cases, however, it becomes a source of criticism. It reaffirms the level of poverty of the family (Guinn, 2014). For an emotionally mature teenage son, such criticism may be ignored and attention directed towards what matters most in his life.

Unfortunately, that is not always the case (Jonson-Reid, Drake, & Zhou, 2013). Adolescents may tend to blame their parents. The child may develop the feeling that their condition exists because of a lack of commitment on the part of the parent (Heilbrun, DeMatteo, King, & Filone, 2017). Adolescents develop the feeling their parent is not doing enough to make it possible for the family to have a decent home or living environment.

Synthesis of the Research Findings

The review of the literature reported the various aspects of single mothers who parent their adolescent sons. One of the themes that emerged from the literature was the impact of social status on parenting (Wang & Kenny, 2014). The study shows that financially empowered single mothers found it less stressful to care for their adolescent sons (Drifte, 2014). The ability of single mothers to provide most of the needs of these teenagers makes the experience memorable.

However, poor single mothers strain a lot to care for their teenage sons. Another major theme brought out is racism and its impact on parenting adolescent sons. According to Slonim (2014), the U.S. made significant steps in fighting racism in all its forms. However, it is still a major problem in the country. Racism affects the education sector, workplace environment, and other social forums.

The review revealed that African Americans still find it more difficult to get employment than their white peers who have similar qualifications. Gender was another theme presented in the review (June & Mathis, 2013). The experience of single mothers when parenting adolescent sons is worse than that of single fathers. A single mother will find it more difficult getting a good job in this country than a male peer in the same situation.

It is also not easy for single mothers to have successful relationships because many men avoid the burden of caring for such sons (Styron &Styron, 2017). It is important to note that although the researcher identified and reviewed numerous journal articles and books, a detailed study of the experience of single African American females parenting their adolescent sons was missing (Brock, Dodds, Jarvis, &Olusoga, 2013). It was an indication that further investigation was necessary for this field.

The researcher reviewed various theories to determine how they can help in understanding the experience of African American female parents in the country. Black Psychology theory was important in explaining the beliefs and attitudes of American society towards Blacks (Devarakonda, 2013). Black psychology theories’ main strength was the ability to explain why it is still difficult for African Americans to achieve success in society despite the effort put in place to fight racism. Family Systems Theory explained the relationships of family members and the pain experienced when one member of the family is affected by a specific problem (Hines & Holcomb‐McCoy, 2013).

Family Systems Theory helped in explaining why it is easy for an adolescent son to join gangs to earn money when he realizes the mother is struggling to meet basic needs for the family. However, the main weakness of this theory is that it does not provide specific information on the challenges that single African American females’ experience. Family Systems Theory reviewed the experience from a broad perspective (Williams et al., 2017). The two theories provided an understanding of the diversity of American society and its relevance in defining the relationship between parents and siblings.

The review of the literature provided a review of the experiences of single mothers in this country. Their experience is more challenging than that of fathers who have to raise their adolescent children (Hallet, 2016). It starts from the difficulty in meeting the financial needs to having problems getting committed long-term partners. The review of the literature also showed that African Americans are a disadvantaged minority group because of the social setting of the country.

Racism puts them at a position of disadvantage (Doody & Noonan, 2013). It is also clear from the information gathered in this chapter that experiences of single mothers found it more difficult parenting adolescent sons than adolescent daughters. A study by Brown (2016) revealed that single mothers prefer having girls to boys. Some even resented raising boys on their own. Although finding literature that accurately discussed the topic comprehensively was challenging, it was possible to gather information from different sources to provide a thorough literature review.

Information obtained from the literature review supported the need to conduct a study identifying single African American mother’s experience of their relationship with their adolescent sons. According to Taylor (2016), it was not common for these parents to discuss their experience of how they relate to their sons. Some fear being criticized for poor parenting when they reveal that their relationship is not good (Cherry, Baltag, & Dillon, 2016).

Others feel that it is their responsibility to ensure the relationship is at its best (Weatherspoon, 2014). As such, they do not find it comfortable talking about these experiences. The literature review does not provide a detailed explanation of why some single mothers often feel uncomfortable talking about these experiences. However, this study may provide that explanation (Promes, 2016). When interviewing the parents, one of the issues that will be investigated is whether or not they often speak about these experiences and why. Their responses may be used to fill the knowledge gap that currently exists (Shimazu, Bin, Dollard, & Oakman, 2017).

Critique of Previous Research Methods

The experience of single African American mothers being parents to their adolescent sons is a very critical topic that needs to be studied. According to Ford and Moore (2013), some parents end up committing suicide because of the depression from such experiences. As such, care was taken when selecting resources for the study. Most of the resources used were authored by reputable scholars who studied the problem of single parenting, the impact of racism, and income inequalities in the U.S. (Bright & Jonson-Reid, 2015).

Dr. Maudry-Beverley Lashley is an accomplished author who has spent many years studying the experience of African American single mothers and the perception the society has towards them. As Barnett and Scaramella (2013) noted, the validity and reliability of secondary sources of data often depend on the knowledge and experience of the author. Therefore, the researcher sought studies conducted by such accomplished scholars. It was also necessary to consider the rigor of design, sampling techniques and sample sizes, quality of the instruments of research, the relevance of the statistical procedure, and other related quality factors of the articles before using them in the study (Flavell, 2014).

An appropriate sample size makes it possible to have accurate data. Slonim (2014) explained that a large sample size makes the study more trusting. Given that this is a qualitative study, it was necessary to review quantitative studies, as well as the literature review. Some of the articles used in this chapter were based on quantitative research (Wu et al., 2015). Although some of their investigations were conducted over 14 years ago, they are still relevant in the present context.

Snyder (2016) warned that failure to review the relevance and reliability of sources can lead to the collection of misleading information. The scholar also warns against using few sources when researching a highly sensitive issue, such as the topic of this study (Hooper, 2013). Obtaining peer-reviewed sources from various experts expanded the knowledge and helped to identify possible conflicts in the body of knowledge, which is the reason why numerous sources were used in this chapter.

The majority of the articles reviewed in this chapter based their conclusions on the findings from both primary and secondary sources. However, it is important to note that a few only relied on secondary data. According to Devarakonda (2013), it is not advisable to entirely rely on secondary sources of information. When conducting research, the focus should always be on addressing the existing knowledge gap (Hess & Henig, 2015).

However, that cannot be achieved by wholly relying on books and articles. One should consider engaging human subjects to understand the current state of a given issue (Elish-Piper, 2013). Engaging and interviewing human subjects may help to identify if anything has changed over the recent past and how it affects the existing knowledge. Such conflicts will be avoided in this study (Ledgerton, 2013). The researcher will ensure that secondary data is integrated with primary data collected from participants.

Summary

Single parenting is becoming a common problem in the United States. Many scholars classify it as a problem because not many people marry to have children and then part ways. It is also a problem because raising a child as a single parent is more challenging than when partners do it together. Infidelity is considered one of the leading reasons why many families are breaking apart in the United States.

Women’s empowerment, intolerance, heavy use of social media, and the desire to commit to achieving career success are some of the reasons why single parenting is becoming common. The review of the literature found that many women suffer while caring for their adolescent sons. Other than the financial strain, they find it difficult to identifying and openly discussing challenges that they face in life. Culture limits what they can discuss with their sons.

Society is changing and some of the experiences that women went through in the past may not be the same as today. It is critical to collect primary data to identify participants’ experiences. The theoretical concept helps in understanding the unique situation that single African American mothers experience when caring for their adolescent sons. Black psychology theory explained the position of disadvantage that single African American mothers find themselves in within society. Systems and structures are designed in a way that is unfavorable to women and people of color. It means that being an African American female can be seen as double jeopardy in the U.S.

System theory was also considered relevant to identify the mother’s experience of relationship with an adolescent son. As defined in Chapter one, a system refers to a cohesive assembly of interlinked but independent units (Cherry et al., 2016).

Each unit is expected to function independently, but in a manner that supports the overall goal of the system. In a family unit, it is expected that parents and children will play their different roles, but in a way, that enhances the success and happiness of everyone involved. For a single mother, meeting all expectations of a parent may not be easy. It may be possible to meet all the material needs, but in the process of doing so, the parent may not have enough time to spend with the child. Such failures may have a significant impact on the child’s normal development. After reviewing the literature on this topic, the next chapter will focus on the methods used to collect, analyze, and interpret primary data.

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