INFLUENCE OF PARENTAL MARITAL STATUS ON SELF ESTEEM, DISCIPLINE AND INTERPERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS AMONG SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS WITHIN NAKURU MUNICIPALITY, KENYA

ABSTRACT
Single parent households are caused by factors such as divorce, separation, death of spouse, single parent by choice and due to rapid breakdown of traditional structures in the face of globalization, modernization, migration and urbanization. Presently, single parenting has found little, if any, acceptance in most communities in Kenya, which may adversely affect self esteem, discipline and interpersonal relationships of children in the households. However, many communities still regard dual parenthood as a better way of rearing children. This study therefore aimed at establishing the influence of dual and single parent families on the development of children’s self esteem, discipline and interpersonal relationships. The research design was causal-comparative, in which a population of 4257 Form 3 and Form 4 students was used. The study was carried out in 18 public secondary schools within Nakuru Municipality, Kenya. A sample size of 360 students, from both single and dual parent families was used in the study. The sample size of 360 students was obtained through purposive and stratified sampling techniques. Data was collected by use of a questionnaire. Data analysis was done by use of descriptive and inferential statistics, which included means, frequencies, chi square, t-test and ANOVA statistics. The significance level was set at α = 0.05. The analysis was performed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 11.5. An analysis of the major findings of this study indicated that students from dual parent households tended to have higher self esteem levels than those from single parent households. In addition, duration lived in a parenthood status did influence the self esteem, discipline and interpersonal relationships levels of students significantly. Gender of the single parent also influenced the levels of self esteem, discipline and interpersonal relationships of students significantly. The findings of this study will hopefully assist the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry in charge of Youth Affairs, policy makers and other stakeholders to better understand the students’ problems that emanate from their parents’ marital status and hopefully devise ways and means of alleviating them. Based on the major findings of this study, it is recommended that all stakeholders undertake measures aimed at improving self esteem, discipline and interpersonal relationships of students and especially those with only one parent.

CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
Background of the Study
Growing up in a household with two parents is advantageous during childhood, and it continues to be an advantage during adolescence, at least in terms of development of high self esteem, good interpersonal relationships and avoidance of risky behaviour (Harter, 1990). However, single parenting has in the recent past been on steady increase globally (Johnson, Hoffmann, & Gertein, 1996). In 1995, about 31 percent of US families with children under 18 years, 64 percent of the African American families, 36 percent of Hispanic families, and 25 percent of white families, were single parent families, as compared to only 13 percent for each one of them, in 1970 (Bryson, 1996).

In America's 1992 statistics, single parent families represented 30 percent of U.S households while 25 percent represented dual parent households (US Bureau of Census, 1993). Still, it was projected that one out of every two children born during that decade would spend time in a single parent family (Biachi, 1995). According to Burn (1992), percentage of single parent families among the eight industrialized countries were: US (30%), Australia (15%), U.K (13%), France (10%), West Germany (12%), Sweden (17%), U.S.S.R. (19%), Japan (4.1%) (Burn, 1992). Presently in Kenya, the number of children living in a single parent family is also steadily increasing alongside other parts of the world. This phenomenon could be attributed in part to the rapid breakdown of traditional structures in the face of globalisation, modernization, migration and urbanization. As a result, children have borne the brunt of the fall-out (Hamner & Turner, 1985).

In a study conducted in 1997 by the Government, Unicef and the Family Support Institute in 13 districts in Kenya, it was established that 45 percent of the families had both parents present; 30 percent were single parents headed by women, 9 percent were single parents headed by men, 8.7 percent were extended, 5.3 were child headed and 2.3 percent were headed by grandparents (Family Support Institute, 1997). In addition, 70 percent represented unmarried teenage mothers, who are among the core poor that lead in generating children with special need for protection (Family Support Institute, 1997). In Nakuru Municipality, more than half of the parents who applied for secondary school bursary in 2005 were single parents (Nakuru Bursary Committee, 2005). This was therefore an indication that the rate of increase in single parenthood within Nakuru Municipality was alarming. Moreover, this also indicated that single parents were unable to provide basic needs such as education to their children. This could in turn affect the self esteem, discipline and interpersonal relationships of these children adversely. Circumstances that give rise to single parenting include: divorce, separations, single parents by choice, and death which gives rise to widows or widowers (Bianchi, 1995).

The impact of family type as well as parental rearing practices have been found to be crucial in as far as the development of a child's self view, interpersonal relationships and discipline are concerned (Coopersmith, 1967). Boys brought up by single parents are for instance much more likely to suffer psychological, social and academic problems than girls of the same family background. Boys are also more likely to show acting-out behaviours than girls (Hetherington, 1989). Girls raised in one-parent families have more difficulty relating to men later on due to low self esteem and poor interpersonal relationships skills (Mendez, 1976). Researchers have further found that girls from divorced families were more sexually promiscuous and seductive, while girls raised in widowed families were more withdrawn. Therefore, paternal absence affects daughters as well as boys (Hetherington, 1972)

According to Coopersmith (1967), children who exhibited high self esteem were those reared by parents who were highly accepting and warm, and who provided home atmosphere that was understanding and tolerant. There were clear rules and definite limits for acceptable behaviour, and when the adolescent was punished, the punishment was appropriate but not harsh. Parental rearing practices also are related to identity development (Williams, 1993). Hence adolescents whose parents encourage their freedom, do not use guilt to a high degree, and who are not too controlling and regulating have a more well- developed identity.

According to Erikson (1963), a major determinant of self esteem is children's view of their capacity for productive work; the issue to be resolved in the crisis of middle childhood is industry versus inferiority. The "virtue" that develops with successful resolution of this crisis is competence, a view of the self as able to master skills and complete tasks (Harter, 1990). Parents should therefore work towards instilling a sense of confidence on their children accomplishments, while at the same time working to avoid negative outcome of a sense of inadequacy concerning one's achievements (Hamachek, 1988). Self esteem of children is also affected by socio-economic status of the parent. Financial difficulties experienced by some single parents, for example, have negative effects on children's health, well-being, school achievements and self esteem (Amato, 1987). Hence deficiencies in relationships in single parents’ households may be linked to socio-economic status (Bronstein, 1988).

Gender of the single parent also impacts on the child's self esteem, behaviour and general well being. Mother-only families for example, are likely to have children rearing difficulties due to financial problems and low education levels, as compared to the father-headed families (Amato, 1987). Consequently, children brought up by single mothers and especially boys are likely to have low self esteem, discipline problems and poor interpersonal relationships. Children in their adolescence are most affected by single parenthood, since most often, they are made pre-maturely independent of the primary family (Hamner & Turner, 1985). Moreover, they are most affected by insensitive comments made by peers and adults, regarding their family background.

The greatest contributor to self esteem, though, seems to be how much social support a child feels first and foremost from parents and then from classmates, teachers and from friends (Harter, 1993). Self esteem is therefore an important component of self-concept, linking cognitive, emotional, and social aspects of personality. Children with high self esteem tend to be cheerful; those with low self esteem tend to be depressed (Harter, 1990). A depressed mood can lower energy levels, which can affect how a child performs in school and elsewhere, leading to a downward spiral in self esteem. Children with low self esteem often retain a negative self-image long after childhood has been left behind (Harter, 1993)

Statement of the Problem
There is an increasing rate of single parenting in Kenya today, yet this type of parenthood may be negatively viewed. This negative perception of single parenting by the Kenyan society implies that children brought up in such family structures may not get adequate acceptance, support and recognition from teachers, students and the society at large. This however may be contrary to the case of children brought up in dual parent households, inspite of the many parenting challenges facing the two family structures. To date however, the influence of parental marital status on children’s self esteem, discipline and interpersonal relationships have not been adequately addressed by researchers. Yet, many indscipline cases, depression, drug use and abuse, suicide, poor academic performance in schools and inability to relate well with peers, among secondary school students may be attributed to their parents’ marital status. Therefore, this study attempts to compare the influence of single and dual parenthood on a student’s self esteem, discipline and interpersonal relationships among secondary school students within Nakuru Municipality.

Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study was to determine the influence of dual and single parenthood on the self esteem, discipline and interpersonal relationships among public secondary school students within Nakuru Municipality.

Objectives of the Study
The following objectives guided the study:

(i) To determine self esteem levels of students from single and dual parent families.

(ii) To determine levels of discipline of students from single and dual parent families

(iii) To establish how single and dual parenthood influence interpersonal relationships of students.

(iv) To determine how the type of single parenthood influences students’ self esteem, discipline and interpersonal relationships.

(v) To investigate the influence of duration in single and dual parenthood on students’ self esteem, discipline and interpersonal relationships.

(vi) To establish the influence of single parenthood’s gender on students’ self esteem, discipline and interpersonal relationships.

(vii) To determine the influence of parents’ socio–economic status on students’ self esteem, discipline and interpersonal relationships.

Research Hypotheses
The study was guided by the following hypotheses.

H01: There is no statistically significant relationship between students’ self esteem levels and their parents’ marital status.

H02: There is no statistically significant relationship between levels of discipline of students and their parents’ marital status.

H03: There is no statistically significant relationship between parental marital status and students’ interpersonal relationships.

H04: There is no statistically significant difference between types of single parenthood and students’ self esteem, discipline and interpersonal relationships.

H05: There is no statistically significant difference between duration in parenthood and students’ self esteem, discipline and interpersonal relationships.

H06: There is no statistically significant difference in students’ self esteem, discipline and interpersonal relationships with regard to the gender of their parents.

H07: There is no statistically significant relationship between parents’ socio- economic status and students’ self esteem, discipline and interpersonal relationships.

Significance of the Study
The findings from this study may hopefully be used by school administrators and teachers to make changes and alterations such as, changing ways of disciplining students as well as establishing and strengthening guidance and counselling programmes in schools, in their respective institutions. The changes so instituted, may hopefully cater for the needs of students with regard to behaviour, self esteem and interpersonal relationships, with the ultimate aim of improving their well being and discipline for better. The Ministry of Education, Policy Makers in Education, and other stakeholders may also find findings from this study useful in their efforts to institute changes in the education sector so as to incorporate awareness and improvement of self esteem, discipline and interpersonal relationships, among students. This study has also come up with recommendations on discipline, self esteem and interpersonal relationships enhancement programmes for students. The study findings may therefore guide teachers, parents and other care takers, on matters concerning the needs of students. In addition, the study findings may provide more information on the needs of children and particularly those from single parent households to the Ministry of Home Affairs as well as that of Youth Affairs. In turn, the ministries may take measures to improve on the welfare of children for better. It is also hoped that the study may provide a base on which other researches might be carried out on this subject.

Scope of the Study
This study covered 18 public Secondary Schools within Nakuru Municipality. The 360 students targeted for study were Forms three and four; who hailed from dual and single parents families. The respondents in the selected forms were preferred because they were thought to be quite familiar with their family backgrounds and could therefore give their true feelings when responding to the items in the questionnaire. The study therefore investigated the impact of dual and single parent families on students' self esteem, discipline and interpersonal relationships. The students selected for the study were only those who lived with their biological parents.

Assumptions of the Study
This study assumed that:

(i) The sample respondents selected would willingly provide accurate and true information about themselves and their parent(s).

(ii) The students’ responses were a true reflection of their true feelings and attitudes.

(iii) Respondents from single parents live with only one parent without alternating.

Limitation of the Study
The study was limited by the fact that some students, school principals and school counselors found the study to be sensitive especially due to ethical issues involved. They were therefore very suspicious as to the purpose of the study. The researcher reassured them of the confidentiality of the information provided. The researcher also reaffirmed that the information obtained was purely for research purpose.

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Item Type: Kenyan Material  |  Attribute: 89 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
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