Within this essay I will firstly be exploring the aspect of loan parenthood, then looking how it affects the lives of the child whether it be areas of divorce, separation, co-habitation, death or just growing up in a one parent family, I will compare one/two of them and the outcomes it has on the child with a two parent household, looking into aspects such as how this could affect the child mentally and socially.

I will then look into how lone parenthood affects the parent themselves in such areas as: income, benefits, employment, housing, day care etc. seeing how emerging policies could help.

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What I also want to find out from this assignment as being in a lone parent household my self (living with my mum) how the experts go on to conclude about the lack of social ability a child suffers after a parent break-up and this also makes them suffer through their education and their attainment suffers i.e not wanting to get an education, not caring.

In the nineteenth century a similar proportion of families were headed by loan parents as today, but now most loan parents are divorced or separated rather then widowed.

The family in general can be said to be a basic unit of social structure but then again the exact definition can vary greatly from time to time and from culture to culture. How a society defines the family as a primary group and the functions it asks families to perform are by no means constant.

The traditional image of a family is of two parents and their 'two point two' children (down now to one point four). Social, legal and financial systems continue to uphold this view, forget the reality for the one in three families in England who experience breakdown is often very different, nor does the growing miss-match between public expectations and private experience help parents and children in their efforts to re-organise their lives after marital breakdown.

There are estimated 1.7 million one parent families in Britain about a quarter of all families caring for nearly 3 million children (just less than one in four) ONS office of national statistics

One consequence of the changing pattern of family structures during the past 25 years has been a rise in the number of loan parent households, mainly headed by women (see appendix A).

With rising separation and divorce rates means that children are experiencing family disruption and loan parenthood. In recent years single (never married) mothers a category which includes co-habiting relationships that have gone wrong are the fastest growing groups of loan parents, for many being a child in a loan parent family will be only one of a number of family settings they will experience.

When parents separate the children need to make several adjustments, including that of no longer living with one of their parents, because adults commonly form new partnerships after separation children are likely to experience a further transition into a household comprising one natural parent, another adult and sometimes step-siblings.

It's been seen that children from step-families fair less well than those from intact families and indeed in some instances less well that those from lone-parent families, to have high levels of distress and low self esteem, to leave school without qualifications could be explained by the differences found in family aspirations and expectations for step family children then those in lone parent families.

This may seem strange children being more affected then as if they grew up in a lone parent household all their lives. That's why when there is a separation its part of a process of a family change which is distressing for both adults and children, after separation/divorce children are no longer part of the typical family unit there now part of a lone parent family and will often lose contact with kin associated with their non-resident parent (usually the father) these changes occur at a time when adults are least likely to be able to support their children because of their own distress and anxiety.

This distress and anxiety is a crisis that could stay with the child for many years. This why the importance of communication with your child is vital and part of healing process as there is so much going on, they may not be able to cope and what experts say the child may suffer mentally, physically and socially: General health, higher reports and frequency of diseases such as asthma, eczema. Children are more likely to report symptoms classified as psychosomatic due to keeping problems to themselves.

School work, children are more likely to develop problems with school work, truancy may result and refusal in going to school depending how hard and under what circumstances the break up was for the child.

Arguments with parents, children (teenagers) are more likely to argue with the parent they have stayed with (usually the mother) about anything and everything.

Personal relationships, the child is less likely to go to their parent and confined in them about personal problems, more likely to go to non-resident parent (new partner).

Self-esteem, children who experience their parents separating have poorer self-esteem and lower estimates of self worth which relates to difficulties

In other areas of life like friendship problems needing extra help and health problems and generally feeling very unhappy. Lack of communication to the child shows a failure in recognising the problems that the child may face.

Lone parents are one of the poorest social groups; they live in the worst housing and are the most socially isolated, socially excluded groups of people in Britain and because of poverty, poor housing and social isolation, low income are major factors in childhood injury.

Lone parents form 4.5 million out of the 7.9 million people with household incomes that are less than 40%. Lone parents are particularly to have low incomes, the primary source of income are maintenance, government benefits and paid employment. For many lone mothers maintenance payments are an insignificant source of income - many absent fathers are unable to provide for two households so they go without. The government has meanwhile become concerned about the cost of supporting children whose parents have divorced/separated, and the father no longer supports the family financially, this led to the setting up of the child support agency in 1993, responsible for assessing and collecting the absent parents contribution towards child maintenance.

Government benefits undoubtedly keep many lone parents fed and clothed but by no means do they offer an exit from poverty, as some lone mothers may go without food because of lack of money and because of this some have nutritionally deficient diets. Possibly the only way that lone parents can escape poverty trap is through paid employment. The employment opportunities of lone parents are influenced by individual earnings, benefits and accessibility of day care social security forms an important part of the income of the majority of lone parent households and has to be taken into account when examining the employment strategies of loan parents.

If paid work is to be the main instrument for reducing lone parent's social exclusion clearly family credit plays an important role in helping lone parents get and keep work, also with child maintenance especially amounts made to poorly educated and otherwise disadvantaged lone parents can assist them into work, though the majority of other lone parents will spend a long time on benefits and experience hardship and deterioration of health and moral.

Lone parents are also particularly disadvantaged in their housing situation; due to their low income and a tendency to view lone parents as less deserving tenants, which results in them in occupying accommodation of inferior quality on the most undesirable urban housing estate, lone mothers tend to get much worse council housing; older rather then newer, flats rather then houses, higher floors rather then ground floor.

The housing situation of lone parents is particularly precarious, found sharing accommodation with friends and relatives, living insecure lives which involve frequent moving which is bad news for the child's health and the parent's health as types and quality of housing are important determinants of health.

There are most likely to have higher rates of long standing illness due to low financial resources to help them with their role as parent and provider for the child. One in seven lone parents has done without food for their child to have something to eat. 1 A survey carried out in 1997 found that 1 in 20 mothers sometimes went without food to meet the need of their children, with lone mothers on income support 14 times more likely to go without ten mothers in two parent families not on benefit.

Social support is health promoting and it's important there is a constant informational support out there, organisations such as gingerbread can be great source of support and social contact for the parents and children and often organise activities and social events, because lone parents are unable to access this support they represent a particularly vulnerable group, low levels of social support may at least in part be a consequence of poverty.

Experiences of lone parenthood can be conflicting, negative aspects are stressed - specifically loneliness and lack of money, however there are also positive aspects of lone parenthood, such as arising as lone parents do out of difficult times are very highly valued and reflect a sense of pride and achievement.

Overtime women who are lone parents do make fundamental gains arising out of their everyday experiences whilst achieving such gains, there are actively engaged in renegotiating their status in society as lone parents and in the process challenging the negative stereotypes associated with lone parenthood, in the long term this can only be beneficial for the women themselves and the children they care for.