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Disadvantages of Nontraditional Family Structures. Cat Lewelling. Thesis.

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  • It is important to understand whether traditional family structure is more beneficial to students than the nontraditional families, then the affects of the absent parent, socioeconomic status, and adjusting to a non-related parent on the student’s academic success will be assessed.
traditional vs nontraditional
Traditional vs. Nontraditional
  • As an early researcher, Herbert Marsh found that the difference between students from traditional families structures have a higher GPA average than students from nontraditional family structures, but the difference isn’t big enough to be considered significant.
  • The majority of current researchers find this GPA gap significant.
absent parent
Absent Parent
  • The stress of having one parent gone could be the reason for the GPA gap in single family households.
  • Frisco, Muller, and Frank and also Pong, Dronkers, and Hampden-Thompson find that single parent families generally have students with lower GPAs.
  • But Tillman finds that the widowed never remarried structure is the least affected out of nontraditional family structures, meaning that the absent parent is not the primary reason for the achievement gap.
socioeconomic strain
Socioeconomic Strain
  • Lack of resources from a single parent household could be a reason for the GPA gap.
  • Pong, Dronkers, and Hampden-Thompson find that countries without financial support policies have the worst achievement gap among family structures and that America is living proof.
  • Both Jeynes and Tillman find that when the SES level is controlled the GPA gap is lessened for students from single families.
adjusting to an unrelated caregiver
Adjusting to an Unrelated Caregiver
  • The stress from redefining family roles could be the reason for the lower GPA gap in remarried or cohabitating families.
  • Coleman, Ganong, and Finefind that stepparents spend less time with their stepchild.
  • Tillman finds that remarriage is the greatest stress factor on children.
  • Brown and Tillman both find that stepchildren are less involved in school and have poorer grades.
  • However, Jeynes finds that children from cohabitating families do better than widowed then remarried.
  • Tillman concludes policies encouraging single parents to get remarried are bad.
wrapping it up
Wrapping it up
  • Current research finds a difference between the GPAs of students in traditional families and nontraditional families significant, but the reasons behind the achievement gap are unclear, but an absent parent, lower SES levels and unrelated caregivers all contribute an uncertain amount of stress.
  • Further research should focus on the effects of financial policies helping single families in America and if the uprising trend of nontraditional families are helping children cope because it is becoming normal.
works cited
Works Cited
  • Brown, Susan L. “Family Structure and Child Well-Being: The Significance of Parental Cohabitation.” Journal of Marriage and Family 66.2 (2004): 351-367. JSTOR. Web. 22 Jun 2014.
  • Coleman, Marilyn, Lawrence Ganong, and Mark Fine. "Reinvestigating Remarriage: Another Decade Of Progress."Journal Of Marriage & Family 62.4 (2000): 1288-1307. SocINDEX with Full Text. Web. 22 June 2014.
  • Frisco, Michelle L., Chandra Muller, and Kenneth Frank. “Parents’ Union Dissolution And Adolescents’ School Performanc: Comparing Methodological Approaches.” Journal of Marriage & Family 69.3 (2007): 721-741. EBSCO. Web. 11 Jun 2014.
  • Jeynes, William H. "The Effects Of Several Of The Most Common Family Structures On The Academic Achievement Of Eighth Graders." Marriage & Family Review 30.1/2 (2000): 73-97. Academic Search Complete. Web. 16 June 2014.
  • Marsh, Herbert W. "Two-Parent, Stepparent, And Single-Parent Families: Changes In Achievement, Attitudes, And Behaviors During The Last Two Years Of High School." Journal Of Educational Psychology 82.2 (1990): 327-340. EBSCO. Web. 16 June 2014.
  • Milstead, Kayla and Gerra Perkins. “Family Structure Characteristics and Academic Success: Supporting the Work of School Counselors.” Academic Leadership 8.4 (2010): 1-7. EBSCO. Web. 11 Jun 2014.
  • Suet-Ling, Pong, JaapDronkers, and Gillian Hampden-Thompson. "Family Policies And Children's School Achievement In Single- Versus Two-Parent Families." Journal Of Marriage & Family 65.3 (2003): 681-699.SocINDEX with Full Text. Web. 15 June 2014.
  • Tillman, Kathryn Harker. “Family Structure Pathways and Academic Disadvantage Among Adolescents in Stepfamilies.” Sociological Inquiry 77.3 (2007): 383-424. SocINDEX with Full Text. Web. 11 Jun 2014.