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The proper APA Style reference for this manuscript is:
ASHLEY, T K (2009). Single Versus Dual Parent Homes. National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse, 12. Available online at http://www.webclearinghouse.net/volume/. Retrieved September 28, 2023 .

Single Versus Dual Parent Homes
Psychology University of Central Missouri

Sponsored by: PATRICIA MARSH (pmarsh@ucmo.edu)

This Quasi Experimental study examined and compared participants coming from single verses dual parent homes.  The participants were forty-five students from the University of Central Missouri. Participants were asked to sign up on Sona System to participate in an online survey.  Students coming from single parent homes were compared to students coming from dual parent homes on four different levels. These four levels were parenting styles, economic status, friendship, and self-esteem. While there was no significance in parenting styles and friendship, a significant difference was found between the type of home in the area of economic status and self esteem.

    In today’s society, having one parent in a household has become more common than in any other time in history.  In recent decades the traditional form of the family has undergone major changes, with the increasing rates of divorce leading to single-parent families and remarriages, resulting in extended families. According to research, people coming from homes comprised of more than one parent are statistically more stable and have higher self-esteem, when compared to others.  The purpose of this study is to compare students on four levels to see how or if there is a difference in the type of household a person comes from.   The four levels being compared include economic status, self- esteem, parenting styles, and friendship.

     Economic status is one of the largest differences found in single and dual parent homes. According to research, households with two parents have more income (student achievement 1), therefore resulting in a higher socio-economic status.   As a result of higher economic status, families with two parents typically invest more in educational resources, spend more time with their children, and have larger social networks for their children to tap on than families with single or absent parents.   Unlike parents of low economic status families, who work multiple jobs to pay for basic necessities, parents in higher socio-economic status can spend more time with their families and therefore enhance communication, trust, and solidarity in children. As a result of the previously stated advantage of higher socio- economic status, higher self-esteem and stability are bound to be evident in adulthood.

Adults who came from families where there are two incomes generally have higher achievement levels and academic success.  (Student Achievement pp 2).  For example, families with two parents typically have more income than other types of families, so they might invest more in educational resources, such as books, calculators, and other forms of scholastic enhancers. According to the study, “The effects on student achievement in Hong Kong, parents investing in educational resources give children more learning opportunities, and hence raise their likelihood of higher academic achievement in adulthood (Asia Pacific Journal of Education, 2006, pp3). 

     In addition to economic status, the level of self esteem was also a major factor compared and examined.  Self-esteem is a key factor in the development of children that subsequently is evident in adulthood.  Self-esteem, according to research, is important for two reasons: one’s actions are consistent with beliefs and feelings about oneself and perceptions of the world are affected by self esteem.  For example, parents who believe they are failures will notice their mistakes more than their success.  Those who believe they are unloved may notice every rejection and overlook expressions of affections by their children. As a result, children growing up with a single parent with a distorted sense of self esteem reflect the same to their children, therefore resulting in low self esteem in adulthood. Research studies show, “The absence of a parent through death, divorce or a time-demanding job contributes to the many forms of emotional disorders, especially low self esteem, anger rebelliousness, depression and anti social behavior” (Muehlenberg p54).   According to “Psychologists from the University of Leiden, a conducted study of 14,000 Dutch adolescents between the ages of 12-19 reported, in general, children from one parent and step-parent families reported lower self esteem, more symptoms of anxiety, and depressed mood than children from a traditionally style family”  (Muehlenberg p 57).   Research studies clearly indicate that “a broken home with the resultant loss or absence of a parent predisposes a child to a variety of emotional disorders that manifest themselves immediately or later in the children’s lives and adulthood” (Muehlenberg 55). 

      In addition to self-esteem parenting style and friendship were also examined and compared across the two types of home, single and dual parent homes. According to research studies, children whose parents had lower socio-economic status had fewer social and cultural communication skills (Ming Ming Chiu & Esther Sui Chu Ho 2006 p. 33).  Because research shows a direct correlation between economic status and the social and communication skills, a difference in the rate of friendship and close relationships is evident in childhood and later on in adulthood. 

     According to Bill Muehlenberg(2006), “Children who grow up in households with only one biological parent are worse off, on average, than children who grow up in a household with both biological parents, regardless of the parent’s race or educational background” (p 58). Single-parent families tend on average to fare less well economically, educationally, and emotionally, and “encounter more difficulties on the road to becoming self-sustaining adults” (Ming Ming Chiu & Esther Sui Chu Ho, 2006 p 27).

     My hypothesis is that there is difference between students coming from single parent homes verses those coming from dual parent homes on four levels: economic status, self esteem, parenting styles, and friendship.



     Participants were exclusively students from The University of Central Missouri.  Participants were of 18 years of age and older.  There were a total of 45 participants. There were 35 females and 10 males who participated.


    Participants were asked to complete a survey.  The survey consisted of 53 questions.  The survey was conducted online.  Questions were asked concerning friendship, self esteem, parenting styles and social economic status.


     The survey was created on the University of Central Missouri Simple Survey system.  Participants were asked to sign up on the Sona System 24 hours prior to taking the online survey.  Before completing the survey, participants were asked to agree to consent.  The survey took approximately 20 minutes to complete.  After completing the survey, participants were given a debriefing form.  Participants were also given the researcher’s contact information for any questions raised after completing the survey.  All information obtained was anonymous.


Chi-Square (x2) Test of Independence was run to compare the groups to look for a statistical difference between the groups. There was a statistical difference found. (See table 1.)

 Family Income X2 (3, N= 45) = .018, p < .05. (See figure 1)

Occupation X2 (3, N= 45) = .006, p < .05.


     The purpose of the study was to compare students coming from dual parent homes verses students coming from single parent homes. Students were compared on four levels. These levels included friendship, self esteem, parenting styles, and social economic status. The researcher expected to find a significant difference between participants coming from single parent homes in comparison to participants coming from dual parent homes, on the four previously stated levels.  A significant difference was found in the type of home participants came from and family income.   Occupation and the type of home participants came from also showed a significant difference.  Although a significant difference was found in family income and occupation, no significance was found in the quality of friends, time spent with friends, and family importance.  

Only 45 of the 100 participants’ surveys were able to be analyzed due to limitation of the style of the survey. Although the online survey is less time consuming for the researcher and also less tedious, online surveys may also create some constraints when collecting data. For future research, a paper survey may be a more successful route of data collecting.






Ming M. C. & Esther S. C. H. (2006). Family Effects on Student Achievement in Hong Kong.    Asia Pacific Journal of Education: Vol, 26, 21-35.

Muehlenberg, B. (2002). The Case for the Two-Parent Family. National Council on Family Relations. Vol, 52, 51-59.

Downey B.D. & Powell, B. (1993). Do Children in Single-Parent Households Fare Better Living with same sex parents? Journal of Marriage and Family. Vol. 55, 55-71.

Demo H. D. (1988). Impact of Divorce on Children. Journal of Marriage and Family. 619-648.

Chester, C., & Jones J. D. & Zalot A. &Sterrett E. (2007).  The Psychosocial Adjustment of African American Youth from Single mother Homes: The Relative Contribution of parent and peers. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychology, Vo. 36. 356-366.                                           




Submitted 05/11/2009
Accepted 05/28/2009

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