Children can add immensely to our livesi. But just as they can improve our quality of life, their growth and happiness greatly depends upon ongoing encouragement and support from their loved ones! Research has shown that the family unit plays a vital role in shaping a child's developmental health and wellbeingii.
Based on the 2010 Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) report, Parental divorce or death during childhood, we look at how changes to the family unit and, in particular sole parenting, can affect a child's educational and occupational prospects.
Impact on education
Changes to the composition of the family can impact greatly on a child's performance at school and their interest in learning. While the proportion of Australians completing Year 12 has risen considerably over recent decadesii, the ABS report highlighted that people who have experienced the death of a parent as a child had lower rates of Year 12 completion compared to those who had notii.
Similarly, those who experienced parental divorce/permanent separation during their childhood had lower rates of Year 12 completion than those who had notii- in the 18 to 24 year olds age group, this figure was 62% compared to 77%ii.
Impact on employment and income
The report also indicates that the death of a parent during a child's critical development stage can affect future employment prospects, more so than parental permanent separation or divorceii. Those aged 18-54 years who had experienced parental death during their childhood were exposed to an employment rate of 76% compared to 81% among those who had notii.
Parental death during childhood was also found to foster a greater personal income differential than parental permanent separation or divorceii. Those who had experienced the death of a parent during childhood had lower personal incomes than those who did not. On average, Australians aged 25-54 years who have experienced the death of a parent during their childhood were said to earn personal incomes about 18% lower than those who did notii.
Lone parent families often struggle financiallyiii. Tabled statistics featured in a report by the Australian Institute of Family Studies indicated that when compared to couple families with children, lone parent families experience greater financial stress on all indicators (income, housing and employment)iv.
More often than not, lone parent families are only just able to meet the normal day-to-day expenses with the help of government benefitsiii. However, even with direct and indirect financial support from the government, figures showed that in 1998, lone parents were sitting in the lower (i.e. poorest) wealth deciles and were under-represented among the higher wealth decilesiv. It was calculated that 31.9% of all lone parents were among the poorest 20% of societyiv. On the other hand, only 7.6% of lone parents were found among the wealthiest 20%iv.
Positive and supportive parental involvement can help ensure that a child's future achievements, as well as psychological wellbeingii are not comprised. And while it's important to make sure their needs are met, your own personal wellbeing should not be neglected! Providing a healthy upbringing for your children first requires you to lead by example.
As a parent, it's only natural to want to ensure your children are healthy and happy, and that they are kept out of harm's way. Unfortunately, life does not always pan out as planned. In the event the unexpected occurs, life insurance can help make sure that your child's future is financially secured. Get a life insurance quote from Allianz today.
i Scott, E., 2012, 'Kid stress and happiness: How kids in your life can impact happiness and stress', About.com, http://stress.about.com/od/parentsunderstress/qt/kid_stress.htm
ii ABS, 2010, '4102.0 - Australian Social Trends: Parental divorce or death during childhood', http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/4102.0Main+Features40Sep+2010
iii De Vaus, D., 2004, 'Lone Parent Families' in Diversity and change in Australian families: statistical profiles, Australian Institute of Family Studies, p.52
iv De Vaus, D., 2004, 'Lone Parent Families' in Diversity and change in Australian families: statistical profiles, Australian Institute of Family Studies, p.53