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The descriptive survey research was adopted in this study. It is an attempt to investigate the impact of single-parenting on academic performance of students in selected secondary schools in Mainland Local Government Area of Lagos State. A sample of 200 randomly selected students were used. Another sample of 50 randomly selected parents and teachers were also used. A 4 point Likert scale type questionnaire containing 20 items and 20 questions on social studies was administered to the students. The content of the instrument were face validated by my supervisor and other experts in the department. While the reliability was ascertained at 0.5 significant level.

Two null hypotheses were postulated and tested using the independent t-test. The first and second hypotheses were analysed at 0.05 level of significance. The result from this study showed that single-parenting have a negative impact on academic performance of students.

An offspring from a broken home should have regular contact with both parents in order to avoid having negative feelings towards them. Teachers and caregivers should be encouraged to act as role models for children in terms of sharing affection, meaningful and healthy relationship and discipline.



1.1    Background to the study

Single-parent families can be defined as families where a parent lives with dependent children, either alone or in a large household, without a Spouse or partner Popenoe (1997). According to Adams (1998), there was rapid increase in the number of single-parent families in the latter half of the twentieth century. This change has been used by some to argue, that there is breakdown of the family values (defined as a married couple residing with their dependent offspring) with negative effects on children, families and the larger society in general. Singh (1999), and Talib (2000), suggest that single-parent families have been present in all societies over time and should not be viewed as deviant or problematic rather, as an alternative family form. Regardless of how family diversity is viewed, the increase in and prevalence of families headed by one parent (father only or mother only) has a major influence on the social, economic moral and political context of family life.

The expression “single-parenting” actually connotes a one-parent household Cox and Martins (2001). The expression single-parenting, was first formulated in 1970s. There is a general assumption that having one parent only in a household must be deficient and therefore, by definition, bad.

As Osarenren (2005) puts it, “single-parenthood is a situation where the upbringing of a child/children in a family is carried out by one parent either the father or the mother”. The single­ parent in Nigeria according to her, is usually the woman. Osarenren (2005) identified different types of single-parents:

·                    Single-parenthood arising from the death of the other partner.

·                    Couples may decide to separate or divorce.

·                    Teenage pregnancy may lead to single-parenthood in a situation where the man responsible denies ownership of the pregnancy or he may not be ready for marriage or his family may be opposed to the marriage.

·                    Sometimes, the decision to have a child outside wedlock is voluntary especially when a woman considers herself to be on the wrong side of age and still not married.

·                    There is a growing number of women who become single-parents by choice. They have never been married and they will never contemplate marriage. They are economically comfortable and they tend to believe that they do not need a husband. They only want one child or two children because they feel they can cater for such children because of their high socio-economic status and achievements.

Akinbade (1993) and Akinloye (1991), are of the opinion that single-parents face more than the ordinary difficulties in raising children. According to them, single-parents usually adopt or establish adult sexual relationships that will not hurt their children, in order to provide role models to the opposite sex and to deal with the feelings of not being “normal family”. Onuoha (1995) opines that single-parents have to play the roles of two parents, but unfortunately, they do not possess the greater financial and psychological reserves at the disposal of two parents. Again, the problem in single-parenting is that, if the dominant parent has poor parenting skills, the child has another person to turn to in intact family which is not the case in single-parent families.

Researchers such as Akinboye (1987), Bakare (1993) and Uche (1998), have shown that many single-parent families lack many basic necessities of life because of lower income. These researchers opined that women are usually granted the custody of their children in the event of divorce and the bitterness they feel towards their partners do not allow them to accept any financial assistance from their partners who may not even want to provide for her and the child/children. This is to the detriment of the children’s welfare and education. For instance, in a single-parenting families where the father or the mother is handicapped financially, children in those homes find it difficult to pay their school fees as at when due; pocket money may not be given to the children, school uniform may not be provided, textbooks and educational materials may not be possessed by the children due to lack of finance in the home. The resultant effect in this situation is that the children most often dropping out of school or exhibit truancy and absenteeism which may lead to poor academic achievement Nnah (2000).

Nwanna (1991) and Onwuchekwa (1988) postulate that women who become single-parents by choice do not have financial problems because their high socio-economic status is actually the motivating factor for their choice, although, they do  not have enough psychological reserve to sustain their children. They are career-oriented and high-achieving women. Their career remains their priority, thereby neglecting the psychological needs of the child. They usually have more than enough provision of their physical needs. But they face greater denial of a father figure because often times this category of single-parents do not relate or get in touch with the fathers of their children, The effect is that the children probably grow up not knowing who their father really is.

1.2Theoretical Framework

Some theories of families have been postulated by some family sociology scholars. Family exist in every society in one form or the other. There are various definitions of family include – Biological, Psychological and Sociological.

According to George Peter Mudlock cited by Schulz (1976), “Family is a social group which characterised by common residence, economic, co-operation and reproduction. It includes adult of both sexes, at least two who maintain socially approved relationship with one or two children or adopted”.

Ely Chinoy borrowed from American College Dictionary, “Family is define as parents and their children dwelling together, any group of person closely related by blood, as parents, children, uncles, aunties and cousins.

1.2.1The Functionalist Theory of the Family

In any type of human relationship, the functionalists stress the integration of parts within a whole and the social system to which the parts belong.

The functionalist emphasized the resources that the individual brings to the relationship and the functions that he or she performs in the relationship. They also emphasized three major areas of functions in the study of the family. They include:

a.            The relationship between the family and the larger society.

b.            The relationship between the family and the social institutions.

c.            The relationship between the family and the individual person.

In discussing the relationship between the family and the larger society, the functionalists focused on the role that the family plays in the socialization of new members of the society. They assert that only a small unit like the family can carry out this function on behalf of the larger society. This is the function of socialization of children which is done through parent-child interaction. The emphasis in the discussion of relation between the family and other social institutions is on the relationship between the family and social institutions like economies, education, government, etc. The functionalists assert that each and everyone of these institutions affect the family and they in turn are affected by the family. In the relationship between the family and the personality of the individual, the functionalist stress the effect of the family on the individual, that is, the family influences the individual and how the individual can influence the family. The functionalist also emphasized the division of labour for the maintenance of the family. This point is more pronounced in the work of Talcot Parsons, Bales Slates and others. Talcott Parsons and his colleagues pointed out that the division of labour or role different exists among all members of the family between the husband and wife, between the parents and children and between adults and younger members of the family. They are of the opinion that adequate performance of the differentiated roles, work well for the stability and good maintenance of the family as a social unit.

1.2.2 Piaget’s Cognitive Developmental Theory

Most scholars who work with children believe that development is sequential and gradual. The famous Swiss Psychologist Jean Piaget (1896 – 1980) propounded an important theory of cognitive development. Piaget’s theory states that children activity construct their understanding of the world and go through four stages of cognitive development namely. The Sensory-motor stage (0 – 2 years), Pre-operational Stage (2 – 7 years), the Concrete Operational Stage (7 – 11 years) and the Formal Operational Stage (11 – 15 years). Piaget (1954) believe that we adapt in two ways, assimilation and accommodation. Assimilation occurs when individuals incorporate new information into their existing knowledge. Accommodation occurs when individuals adjust to new information. Piaget thought that assimilation and accommodation operate even in the very young infant’s life. New born reflexively suck everything that touches their lips (assimilation), but after several months of experience, they construct their understanding of the world differently. He postulated that each of the stages is age-related and consists of distinct ways of thinking.

Like Piaget, Russian Lev Vygotsky (1896 – 1934) also believed that children actively construct their knowledge. Vygotsky emphasizes developmental analysis, the role of language, and social relations. Three claims capture the heart of Vygotsky view Tappan (1998):

(1)         The child’s cognitive skills can be understood only when they are developmentally analysed and interpreted;

(2)         Cognitive skills are mediated by words. Language and forms of discourse, which serve as psychological tools for facilitating and transforming mental activity; and

(3)         Cognitive skills have their origins in social relations and are embedded in a socio culture backgroup.

1.2.3 The Social Orientation of Children

Socialization is not a process unique to childhood. According to the sociological theory known as symbolic interactionism, socialization is required for each new role an individual acquires over the life-course. Nevertheless, most of us generally understand socialization to mean the process of creating socially responsible beings out of primarily asocial beings – that is, infants and children (asocial in the sense that they are ignorant of the rules and roles of the society and must acquire these over time). Socialization is considered to be more general than either enculturation, or acculturation. Enculturation refers to the specific process of transmitting a particular culture from one generation to another (e.g. minority members of a society teaching their children about minority issues such as discrimination). Acculturation refers to the process of acquiring a new or different culture (e.g. as an immigrant to another country) Denver (2000).

Parkeand (2000) described socialization as “the process whereby an individual’s standards, skills, motives, attitudes, and behaviours change to conform to those regarded as desirable and appropriate for his or her present and future role in any particular society”. Each of this definition leaves open the possibility that adults, in addition to children, can be socialized into new roles and responsibilities.

Most approaches focus on parental-child relations in infancy, childhood, or adolescence, ignoring ongoing parent-child relations across the life-course (for an exception) see Pillemer and McCartney (2001). The focus of this entry is primarily on socialization-both formal and informal of children in different contexts, and in different countries around the world.

1.3    Statement of the Problem

For sometime now, especially, in the last decades, there was rapid increase in the number of single-parent homes i.e. mother only families and father only families. In Nigeria, single-parent families case are quite rampant. During the course of my teaching practice, I found out that students from single-parent homes tend to suffer a lot of denials, they lack parental care, have low social adjustment, suffer inferiority complex and suffer from juvenile delinquency syndrome. Another, children brought up in single-parent families play truancy, come late to school, most of them are delinquent and lack academic materials.

Osarenren (2005) said that many children who were reared in either mother-only or father-only families suffer set backs in their academics achievement than those brought in intact homes due to the absence of one parent.

Single parenting homes have failed to effectively play the role of both parenting families and this has in many ways affected the child academically, mentally, morally and socially. The area boys/girls phenomenon is a factor that stands out as a problem in the society and is often associated with single-parenting families Nnah (2000).

1.4    Purpose of the Study

This study therefore investigated the effect of single-parenting on academic achievement of students in Mainland Local Government Area schools and how they affected in the academic performance of students in schools.

The following undermentioned are the specific objectives of this study:

(1)         To establish whether students’ attitude to academic work is influenced by single-parenting.

(2)         To evaluate the academic achievement of students from intact home and those from single-parent homes.

(3)         To ascertain if students from single-parenting exhibit juvenile delinquency syndrome in our society.

(4)         To determine whether students from mother-only families perform better academically than those from father-only homes.

1.5    Research Questions

For effective conduct of this study, the following research questions were raised:

(1)        Does single-parenting have any effect on students’ attitude to academic work?

(2)        To what extent is students’ academic achievement affected by the type of home?

(3)        Can single parenting cause juvenile delinquency syndrome in our society?

(4)        Do students from mother-only families perform better academically than those from father-only families?

1.6    Research Hypotheses

The undermentioned hypotheses will assist the conduct of this study:

(1)         Students academic achievement will not be affected by the type of home.

(2)         Students from mother-only families will not perform better academically than those from father-only families.

1.7    Significance of the Study

This study is focus on the beneficial of the following individuals:


The findings and recommendations of this study will assist boys and girls who live in their father-only or mother-only homes to cope with the situation of single-parenting, as well as keep out of marital conflict between their parents.

This study equally will assist girls who live with either father-only or mother-only families to cope with the situation in which they find themselves. Also, students should made to appreciate the value of education.


The findings and recommendations of this study will be of great benefit to widows who were rendered single-parents due to the death ‘of their spouses in that they would understand better that widowhood is not the end of life.

It would also enable husbands whose wives are dead (widowers) to cope with the unfortunate situation of fathering their children and becoming single-parents due to the death of the spouses. The recommendations of this study will help such husbands to brace up and encourage themselves in bringing up their children in such a way that they will be able to perform well in their academic careers.

The Teachers:



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