It is better for children to grow up in a single-parent family where there is love than in a dysfunctional two-parent family where there is bitterness and hostility. Do you agree or disagree?

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It is better for children to grow up in a single-parent family where there is love

than in a dysfunctional two-parent family where there is bitterness and hostility.

Do you agree or disagree?
The early development of children—say, their first ten years—is a very important phase in their overall development because it is during this time that their characters are formed and many of their life-habits are established (Sykes, 2003, p. 12). Research (Blake, 2004; Sykes, 2003; Williams, 2001) strongly suggests that if the home environment of the children during their formative years is unhappy and dysfunctional, then, “for a great majority of these children” (Blake, 2004, p. 61), it will have a harmful effect on the proper development of their characters and life-habits. It is for this reason that this essay agrees with the above statement. In support of this view, the essay will now briefly discuss three major areas in which a dysfunctional family can have a negative influence on the development of children. These are: development of self-worth, patterns of behaviour, and the school experience.

ne of the most important characteristics children develop is their sense of personal
self-worth and research shows that a “proper sense of self-worth develops best in a family environment where family members show genuine respect and concern for each other” (Abel, 2001, p. 3). When such respect and concern are absent, as they would be in a dysfunctional family, children find it more difficult to accept themselves. Some children might even feel that they are the cause of their parents’ unhappiness, and this might lead them to reject themselves (Abel, 2001, p. 27).

Another area in which dysfunctional families can have a negative influence on the develop-ment of children, is in the area of behaviour. Behaviour is largely learned (Enders, 1999, p. 83). If young children are exposed to bad behaviour, then they will very likely copy that bad behaviour. For example, if they see and hear their parents arguing constantly, then they will probably do the same. Or if they hear their parents swearing, then they will begin to swear. And if the children are not being exposed to the opposite behaviour—that is, behaviour that is appropriate and acceptable—then the bad behaviour will become established.

Finally, a household in which parents are constantly fighting, or where there is much shouting and verbal abuse, will make it very difficult for young children to cope with the pressures of school. Williams (2001) states that “school is already a new and strange experience for these young children” (p. 123) and goes on to say that research strongly suggests that this experience is more positive when the children come from “homes where there is stability and contentment and where they feel loved and accepted” (p. 124).

A single-parent family might not be the ideal environment in which to bring up children, but if that single-parent family provides cheerful stability and appropriate modelling, and is one in which love and acceptance are positively displayed, then it is a far better environment for young children than a two-parent family where bitterness and hostility are constantly present. Such an environment—warm, stable and appropriate—has a marked and positive effect on a child’s development of self-worth, on his or her patterns of behaviour, and on the school experience.

(About 480 words)


  1. The purpose of the introduction is to provide a brief but clear guide to what the paper will cover. It is like a road-map. An introduction, therefore, will do the following:

  • Briefly introduce the topic.

  • Identify the main elements that the essay will cover, and the order in which these will be covered.

  • Provide a brief thesis statement which states what the essay will conclude about the topic. The thesis statement in this example is italicised. (Do NOT italicise the thesis statement in your own essays.)

  1. The various paragraphs in the body of the essay will develop your argument in the order indicated by your introduction, and in such a way that each paragraph leads naturally to the next. This will give your essay a clear sense of direction and development. It is very important to remember that each paragraph should focus on and develop a single topic or idea. Generally, the first sentence in each paragraph will indicate what idea the paragraph will cover.

  2. The conclusion provides a brief summary of the main points presented in the essay. It will also demonstrate that the essay has answered the particular question posed by the essay topic, usually by repeating the thesis statement or very briefly summarising the essential findings of the essay. In a sense, the conclusion is an “echo” of the introduction.

List of References (APA Style)
Abel, L. G. (2001). How children see themselves. Montreal: Macmillan Books.

Blake, P. W. (2004). The critical years in child development. London: Excel Publications.

Enders, J. O. (1999). Behaviour—How does it develop? Sydney: Penfold Publications.

Sykes, E. R. (2003). Children and their development. Melbourne: Aberly Press.

Williams, G. H. (2001). The school experience. Sydney: Cedar Publishers.

Please Note: The above references are fictional and are used for illustrative purposes only.
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