16 April 2011

Tanzania: Facing the Negative Effects of Single Parenthood


EXPERTS in children development have revealed that children who are raised by single parents are likely to experience trauma and ultimately develop certain behaviours which may affect such children throughout their lives.

They say single parents have experienced even a far great challenge as they have to be both mother and father to raise their children. In such a situation therefore a single parent is in one way or another obliged to play two roles in raising the child.

A local based psychologist, Dr Zainab Lilla, says that a good parental care is the one that enables both male and female parents to live together. Ideally both parents should strive to live together happily and raise their children within their marriage.

Experiences have shown that has always not been the case as, "I think it is not that people wish to live as single parents, but sometimes the circumstances on the ground force them to enter in such kind of parenthood and this is a reality on the ground," explains Dr Zainab.

The medical practitioner narrates that experience has shown there is always a strong intimacy between a child and the two couples in which a child develops emotional connection with both parents. Dr Zainab says the presence of both parents is always a good thing in a society.

She gives an example of how girls find themselves in ingrained closeness with the male parent and likewise boys tend to develop close friendship with their mothers. When asked about the negative side of a single parenthood, Dr Zainab responded, the child could develop undesirable behaviours, such us being defiant, erratic and highly emotional, simply because a child lacks a certain kind of love from one of the parents."

Recent studies in child development has shown that child can be affected by how the society perceive a single parent family and can even develop stress thinking of his/her parent in a

negative way. On the other side, children refer their parents as their first role models and it can reach a time when a child copies the life style of the parent who raised him/her and unwillingly find himself or herself in the same life.

Experts say in today's society, single parent families are unavoidable and therefore the most important thing is to focus in mitigating its negative effects: "It is very important to have a family which is functioning, meaning that children can be raised in a way that they get the basic psychological and physical needs and enjoy their life despite the presence of one parent," she says Dr Zainab.

According to her, the single parents need to tell their children the truth about their second parents in a way that they could understand. The only problem has always been most of the parents are reluctant to their children about where about is the second parent.

"Since women are the most victims of single parenting in which they are the ones to take

responsibility of raising the children when men disappear, they should set their minds into bearing the number of children they can care of so that those families could function physically and mentally," she said.

A medical practitioner at Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) Prof Gadi Kilonzo says it is a common phenomenon for the children raised by single parent families to eventually ask where their second parents are.

"There are cases whereby a male child raised by his mother alone would sometimes lack maleness characters and ultimately develops female related characters, such as feeling shy.

This happens just because the child lacks the presence of his father since his childhood," explained Prof Kilonzo. Prof Kilonzo reveals that in some cases, children raised by a single parent, particularly a child raised by only a single parent mother, may develop homosexuality type of behaviour due to the fact that a child develops love affection with those people she was raised with in the family giving an example of a girl.

Experience has also indicated that some girls raised in single parent families can face problems in their marriage lifetime simply because they were raised, seeing that the presence of only one parent can be enough.

Prof Kilonzo suggested the need for having in place a social adjustment programme that will be tailored to counsel both the parents and the affected children as well. One of the adjustments in reducing problems to children raised in single parent families, according to Prof Kilonzo is the surrounding of uncles in single female parents and aunties in single male parents families.

Pastor Charles Mzinga of Azania Front Church reaffirms the need for both parents to raise

their children. The pastor speaks from a Biblical point of view as saying it was the God's will that a family should consist of both a man and woman, "The Bible says after God created a male human being (Adam), he also found pertinent to create a female partner (Eve) The Bible

also clearly states that a girl and a boy would leave their parents and join together to form a family."

The preacher says there has in recent past been a vast increase of single parent families that exists just because of the marriage conflict and this, he says happens because the couples sometimes enter into a marriage institution without thorough preparations.

"Most of the couples go into marriage without knowing each other's strengths and weaknesses, so that it helps them to cope with each other's strange behaviors when living together. This has always been a major cause of marriage breakdown," said the Pastor.

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