How our lives changed 

E & J
200 24 Ave
Rock Island, IL 61201

American Institute of Commerce
1801 E Kimberly Rd
Davenport, IA 52807

Rock Island County Farm Bureau
1601 52 Ave
Moline, IL 61265

Hempel Pipe and Supply
951 S Rolff St
Davenport, IA 52802

McGladrey & Pullen, LLP
Certified Public Accountants and Consultants
220 North Main St Suite 900
Davenport, Ia 52801

McGladrey & Pullen, LLP
Certified Public Accountants and Consultants
600 35 Ave
Moline, IL 61265

1607 John Deere Rd
East Moline, IL 61244

John Deere Pavilion
1400 River Dr
Moline, IL 61265

John Deere Store
1300 River Drive Suite 100
Moline, IL 61265

Birdsell Chiropractic
1201 5th Ave
Moline, IL 61265

2484 53 St
Bettendorf, IA 52722

17th St and 5th Ave
Moline, IL 61265

2132 E 11 St
Davenport, IA

No longer do parents always come in pairs

By Tory Brecht, Dispatch/Argus Staff writer

Ration programs were big news in 1942, but then as now, Quaker Oats and Ritz Crackers helped folks get by. Chances are this unidentified mother was married; today she might just as easily be single.

The single-parent family is very much a hallmark of the late 20th Century, and the jury is still out on what its long-term effects will be.

In 1960, fewer than 6 million children under age 18 lived in single-parent families. By 1990, the number was 18 million.

Many of the statistics are troubling. A 1995 study found that 72 percent of adolescent murderers and 60 percent of rapists now come from homes without fathers. According to the report, conducted by the National Fatherhood Initiative, children without dads are twice as likely to drop out of school, go to jail or commit suicide.

Rising divorce rates and an acceptance of pregnancies among unmarried woman fueled the growth of the non-traditional nuclear family. Those numbers are starting to even out, said Dr. John Roraback of Southpark Psychology, but he still sees patients dealing with issues sparked, in part, by the absence of a parent.

``When children don't have that contact, they have a more narrow set of ways of responding to things and handling problems,'' he said. ``It can make some people less well-rounded and reduce their interpersonal relationship skills. They often lack a model for a successful relationship.''

Male children of single mothers have a particularly difficult time, said Dr. Roraback. In early childhood, nearly all children identify with their mothers, he said; but as they develop, boys need to start identifying more with their fathers. In the absence of a father, boys near puberty begin rejecting their mother's control, and they often become defiant.

``That is intensified in mom-only households,'' he said.

Tom Kakert, director of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of the Quad-Cities, said the organization helps lessen the negative impact of single parenthood. While many single parents do a wonderful job rearing their families, he said, the parent and the children have a greater burden to bear, which can lead to conflict.

``There's a lot of unneeded pressure put on that one parent to provide all the guidance, friendship and care, 24 hours a day, seven days a week,'' Mr. Kakert said. ``It's too much to ask that one person to carry that load.''

Big Brothers/Big Sisters matches kids of single-parent families with an adult of the same sex who can serve as a role model and mentor.

``You often see a lack of confidence in children from single-parent homes,'' Mr. Kakert said. ``We're not trying to replace the absent parent. We're just trying to help take the burden off the single parent.''

But single-parent families aren't always a bad thing, particularly if the reason one parent left is because of a disintegrating marriage.

``It can be a good experience for the kid of post-divorce if his or her parents are not in conflict, and where there's continued contact with the non- custodial parent,'' said Cyndi Hamer, a former Southpark Psychology social worker. ``Constant conflict is more damaging than growing up with just one loving, caring parent in a stable environment.''

Mr. Kakert said he has seen the same results.

``Maybe there's a good reason that absent parent is gone,'' he said. ``If they are a negative role model, you don't want them around.''

Copyright 1999, Moline Dispatch Publishing Co.