A BLEEDING SOUL - Effects of Fatherless Children
Effects of Fatherlessness on Children’s Development
In the longer term, female single-headed households increased because of the cumulative effects of men abandoning their families, war widowhood, higher levels of separation, and divorce and unmarried mothers. Women and their children came under greater state regulation through the welfare system and this did not end with the war. Discourses on the effects of fatherless children and working mothers resulting in juvenile delinquency were pervasive. Lewis argues that lone mothers’ status was achieved rather than ascribed. This made it easier for officials to attribute the poverty they endured to the fact that they did not have a breadwinner with all the underlying implications that they may have done something to contribute or cause their “achieved status.” This allowed the state and officials who dealt with them to ignore the particular difficulties faced by lone mothers. This guaranteed that prewar ideas about breaking the cycle of poverty among destitute children by removing them from the care of lone mothers prevailed. Many lone mothers were either forced through poverty or shame or persuaded to give up their children after internalizing the discourse that it was in the best interest of their child to have it boarded out in a nuclear family household with the result that family breakdown was exacerbated. Other lone mothers and their children endured the rising levels of gendered and intergenerational poverty and continued state regulation through the benefit system. This was the hidden cost of World War I in Scotland.