Is solo parenting to blame?

Sunday Star Times 18 Feb 07
New Zealand’s soaring rate of one-parent families may be partly to blame for the woeful state of child welfare, suggest community workers and academics. A United Nations report on children’s well-being last week ranked New Zealand at the bottom of a list of 24 developed nations for child deaths from accidents and injuries, and second-worst for its teen pregnancy rate.Great Potentials Foundation chief executive Lesley Max, whose organisation runs several family support initiatives, said family instability and poor parenting were key factors in bad outcomes for children. “Poor parenting affects many generations … I am not interested in being a moraliser but we have an obligation as a society to inform young people about the consequences of their actions in ways they can understand.”According to the 2006 census, just over 30% of New Zealand families are headed bya single parent – three times the 1976 rate. Among Maori, according to a 2000 Ministry of Social Development report, the rate was 50%. Eighty percent of children in surveyed countries lived with both parents, but with wide variations, from over 90% in Greece and Italy to less than 60% in the US. In the Netherlands, rated the best place in the world to be a kid, just 14.9% of families are headed by single parents.