Single Parent and Academic Performance Relationship Introduction This paper will focus on the relationship between single parenting and academic performance among adolescents

January 28, 2019 Critical Thinking

Single Parent and Academic Performance Relationship
Introduction
This paper will focus on the relationship between single parenting and academic performance among adolescents. Single parenting is when only one parent is present in the household a child grows up in. One’s academic performance is based on how successfully they perform educationally. An adolescent is a person who is in the process of moving from childhood to adulthood. According to a past study (Amato, Patterson, ; Beattie, 2015), the amount of children living with one parent has increased by 19% between 1960 and 2012, and those children are scoring below children with two parents. The following analysis takes a biological and sociological approach to explain the relationship between single parenting and academic performance among adolescents.
Biological Perspective
A past study, which used an MRI to scan the brain, concluded that the brain structure has an effect on academic performance. The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain where general intelligence and complex learning are developed (Wang, Zhou, Chen, Yang, Chen, et al., 2017). When a person is thinking or trying to process information, their general intelligence is the capacity in which they can do that. The results of this study showed that there is a high correlation between general intelligence and academic performance. Each person’s general intelligence is individual to them, resulting in the variation in levels of academic performance. Another study, concluded that the dopamine receptor D4 gene has effect on academic performance because it has a correlation with an individuals learning styles (Maras, Safi, & Kurtman, 2014). The dopamine receptors also affect memory, learning, and motor skills. If an individual’s body has a deficiency in dopamine, their ability to perform effectively in school can be challenging.
Opinion- Biological Explanation
I agree that a person’s prefrontal cortex impacts their academic performance because every prefrontal cortex develops at a different rate. A person whose prefrontal cortex is developing slow may struggle academically more so than someone whose prefrontal cortex develops at a fast rate. Not only does the prefrontal cortex develop at its own pace, but the brain in general is different among individuals. I think that it is necessary to consider a person’s dopamine level while looking at their academic performance because it’s responsible for learning and motor skills. These skills are basic, everyday functions that are needed to perform well academically.
Sociological Perspective
Past research has shown that students in two-parent households had greater academic achievement than students in single-parent homes, due to the lack of parenting and economic resources (Nonoyama-Tarumi, Li, 2017). The resources that a parent provides, such as financial and social, play a role in the child’s success; Therefore, the shortage of resources due to only having one parent to provide can cause an educational disadvantage. Some of the parental resources include how involved the parent is in their child’s school environment, how often they are home, and how often they have discussions with their child regarding how they’re performing. They found that there is a strong correlation between family structure and academic performance because the child relies on their parent’s support and involvement to grow (Nonoyama-Tarumi). Another study, examines the relationship between family stability and academic performance, finding that instability can cause a child to suffer academically due to an increase in stress. When a family structure is unstable, the child’s stress levels are increased, making it difficult for the child to make academic progress (Sun, Li, 2011). A similar study (Magnuson ; Berger, 2009), found that children in two-parent families made more academic progress in reading and math than children in single-parent families.
Opinion- Sociological Explanation
I agree that both parents play a significant role in a child’s development by providing them with tools to succeed. Two parents work together to gather a sufficient amount of resources that their child may need to succeed. If there is one less parent involved, it is likely that the resources available are scarce. I believe that it is difficult for one parent to stay on top of their child’s needs, compared to two parents working together. Every parent has different parenting styles, and some parents aren’t as disciplinary as others; Therefore, a student may fall behind if their single parent is not attentive or involved with their child’s school work. I also agree that instability in a family can be stressful for a child and make it difficult for them to focus in school.
Discussion
Personally, I am leaning more towards the nurture side of this argument. Although the brain structure and neurotransmitters affect individuals academic performance, it doesn’t have a strong relationship with single parenting. The relationship between single parenting and academic performance is strong sociologically because having a single parent is part of our environment. A child’s brain structure doesn’t differentiate from another’s based on who they are being raised by; However, the environment a child with a single parent lives in is definitely different from a child’s environment with both parents. A child with a single parent may not receive enough support, attention or guidance, which can cause them to struggle in school. Most highly ranked schools are expensive, and a single parent may not make enough income to send their child to that school. A household may only have one parent due to a death or divorce, which causes instability in the household. This can be stressful for a child, especially if they’re alternating between their parents homes after divorce. The constant transitioning can increase the child’s stress and affect their academic performance. High stress levels can make it difficult for a person to focus or stay determined in school. As a person who is being raised by only my father for the past six years, I am not always motivated to work to my full potential because my father is not heavily involved in school. If he discussed my classes with me and made connections with my teachers, I would be more likely to perform better academically in effort to satisfy him and avoid consequences. The transition I went through from living with two parents to one when my mother passed caused me to be highly stressed, which made it difficult for me to prioritize school.

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