Family Structure and Children's Well-Being

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Family Structure and Children’s Well-Being
John Pass
Western Governors University---Washington

Some have argued that the disparities in life outcomes are primarily determined by characteristics of the family. Family structure is a fundamental characteristic of the family. This fundamental characteristic has significant and sustaining effects on children. The traditional family structure can be defined as a family that has children living with both biological and married parents. The trend for family structure is moving away from the traditional family to various other types of family structures. Today, children are increasingly growing up in single-parent, step, and grandparents-only families. Recently, there has been considerable research examining whether correlations exist between family structure and children’s well-being. Research suggests that the loss of traditional family structure negatively affects children’s well-being in academic achievement outcomes, overall physical and mental health, and increases the likelihood of at-risk behaviors.

There are negative educational consequences for children that grow up in nontraditional family structures. A great deal of research on the correlation between family structure and academic achievement has results that are similar. According to Sun and Li, “most previous studies have concurred that growing up in various alternative family structures has negative educational consequences (2011, p.542). Also, data from previous studies showed that the number of transitions, like divorce, in family structure during a child’s life lowered that child’s test scores. This can be accounted for by associating family instability with lower

academic achievement. In the study by Sun and Li, which compared children’s academic performance among six types of family structures, it…...

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