What is the effect of single parenthood on a child? I am asking because my son grew up without his father, and now that he is old enough to leave home I find him to be very reluctant to do so. Is it that he has become tied to my apron strings in some way? And would this be the same for girls growing up without their father?
Single parents, generally speaking, do not realise it, but they all too often unconsciously try to compensate for the absence of the other parent. As a result their children are very over-protected. The consequences of this is that the child or the children grow up into young men and women that feel inadequate and therefore frightened about having to face the world on their own, and this is especially true when the child or the children grow up with only the mother.
In the case of a boy who has grown up without a father, the boy will be terrified of leaving home, for he doesn't actually know whether or not he will be able to look after himself. In never having known a father his fear of taking charge of his own life lies in the fact that in never having interacted with a father who is the hunter, he doesn't know what it is to hunt. If, on the other hand, he had grown up with a father, he would have learned how to hunt from his father, and therefore instead of fearing the outside world, he will be excited by it and looking forward to trying his own hand at being a hunter.
In girls, on the other hand, the effects of single parenthood are not so marked as in boys, because it is natural for girls to feel contained and protected, as they indeed are at home. However, where the effects do become very obvious is in the girl's reaction to males if she has grown up with only her mother. The girl who has grown up with only a mother, will tend to be suspicious of any male, rather than being excited by the prospect of being courted. Such a girl will fear males in much the same way as the boy of a single parent will fear the outside world.
If girls have been interacting with Dad AND Mom all along there is no need for them to be frightened of strange males. If, on the other hand, a girl grows up with only her mother, she will be frightened of males who are strangers to her. And this is equally true if such a girl had grown up with only her father, because fathers, in the absence of the mother, will always be over-protective of their little blue-eyed girls. Consequently the single father will, even if only unconsciously so, be teaching his daughter to be extremely wary of Big Bad Wolves!