ITHACA, N.Y. -- Mothers can be a positive influence in their children's lives, whether or not they are single parents. A new multiethnic study at Cornell University has found that being a single parent does not appear to have a negative effect on the behavior or educational performance of a mother's 12- and 13-year-old children.
What mattered most in this study, Cornell researcher Henry Ricciuti says, is a mother's education and ability level and, to a lesser extent, family income and quality of the home environment. He found consistent links between these maternal attributes and a child's school performance and behavior, whether the family was white, black or Hispanic.
"Over all, we find little or no evidence of systematic negative effects of single parenthood on children, regardless of how long they have lived with a single parent during the previous six years," says Ricciuti, who is professor emeritus of human development in the College of Human Ecology at Cornell.