The Influence Of Parental Separation On Academic Achievement Of Secondary School Students

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The Influence Of Parental Separation On Academic Achievement Of Secondary School Students


This study examined the influence of parental Separation on Academic Achievement of Secondary School Student in Lagos Educational District II. Descriptive research design was used. The population for the study comprised all the secondary school students in Lagos Educational District II. Stratified Random technique was used to collect the sample. The instrument for the study was a self construct questionnaire titled “Influence of parental separation on academic Achievement of secondary school students in Educational District II (IPSAASSED).

The instrument has reliability co-efficient of 0.76 when tested during the pilot study. The statistical tool used to test the hypotheses was Pearson product Moment Correlation and t-test . Four hypotheses were tested, three was rejected and one was accepted. The result showed that there was significant relationship between parental socio-economic status and students’ academic performance. Also, there was a significant gender difference on academic performance of male in intact family. Based on the above findings recommendation were made that counsellors should provide the necessary assistance and psychological support for students from single parent family so as to overcome emotional problems among others.

Chapter One


1.1 Background to the Study

The need for the presence of parents in a child’s life cannot be over emphasized as it goes a long way in ensuring the academic achievement of the student’s in school. Parents presence tends to influence the performance of their children or wards in school either positively or negatively. Separation of parents and the resulting emotional instability in the home are likely to affect the academic achievement of their children. Recent research has shown that separation of parents occur when relationship between the parents had broken down or because of migration of either parents, from one geographical location to another i.e not staying within the same geographical location.

Bong (2008), showed that parents had little or no relationship with their children especially when they were young. Some children have both parents living together while in some homes, children lived with only their mothers or their fathers or even care takers or care givers or guardians as a result of the separation of their parents. Fathers separate from their children earlier and for longer periods than mothers, mostly because of a breakdown of relationship with the mothers. But separation could also be due to migration, death and abandonment.

However, migration seems to be one of the main reasons why mothers leave their children. They could also separated from their children for financial reasons and sometimes in these circumstances, the child might either be given to someone with better resources or left in the care of someone while they seek work elsewhere. The mothers too may leave the home because of breakdown in relationship with fathers.

Winston (2009), said “It would be the ideal situation to have both parents in the home, but often, this is not the case but there is nothing that can be done about it, as there are factors such as migration, death, and breakdown of relationships to consider,”. Same problems emanated from parental separation which could lead to frustration, isolation of children and sometimes the students may be forced to exhibit temper tantrums while in the classrooms. The students anger, sadness and frustrated may justify the way they behave because the children hope that after they must have returned from school and wishes to play, no one would be available to play with them, in addition to periods of sadness and behavioural problems, parental separation could also contribute to changes in academic performance and success for secondary school students.

Parental separation tends to affect the development of children of which educational development is inclusive. However, the academic achievement of students could be attributed to the influence of both parents. A lot of outstanding members of society have come from singled parent homes and even from foster homes where no parents were present.

Since parental separation has an influence on the academic performance of adolescents, it is advisable that parents should sit down with their child and break the news about the separation if there be need. It has been noted that parental separation may result into a divorce and it becomes hard on the whole family. Hence the need for every member of the family to get used to the change in the family dynamic, as well as children coming to terms with the fact that mum and dad aren’t together anymore.

The restructuring of families that occurs after a separation requires several adjustments for children, according to the Early Childhood Australia website. Transitioning between homes, especially homes where children are exposed to a lot of parental conflict, can be particularly detrimental. For example, if an adolescent goes back and forth between homes and must also listen to parents fighting or talking negatively about one another, it can cause the child lesser time to do homework and study. Newly separated parents might ask adolescents and teens to pitch in around the house more often, such as babysitting younger siblings, which also gets in the way of studying. Problems might also be so distracting that the child isn’t able to concentrate and pay attention at school.

A separation might mean the child has to move and enroll in a new school. This change in routine can interfere with a child’s ability to concentrate in class and do his best in school work. In fact, this instability can impair developmental growth in general. According to a 2007 article published in “American Sociological Review.” Many adolescents tend to pull away from their parents during a separation. Pickhardt (2009), opines that if there be a separation from parents, a child might not want to approach parents for comfort or to discuss the transitions, leaving him without a support system as he navigates his new school and tries to do his schoolwork.

Children who experience two drastic transitions during childhood, such as parents separation and move to a new school, tends to get lower grades and score lower on achievement tests than children who have no such transitions or only one transition. Among adolescents, just one such major transition raises the risk that the child will drop out of school, the same journal reports. Most children of separated or divorced parents live with their mothers, which can be especially hard on boys who need a father figure. Boys who have fathers who continue spending enough time with them tend to get better grades than boys with absent fathers.

Parental separation doesn’t automatically doom an adolescent to poor grades and lower test scores. Children who continue having warm, close relationships with their parents tend to fare better academically than a child who doesn’t. Further, children who were previously living in a home where parents fought or were abusive toward one another tended to do better with the separation because their home life became more stable. In the end, an adolescent’s academic success likely isn’t harmed, despite separation, if he has a stable home life and involved parents.

The period of adolescence which most students pass through is very important to the development of an individual. Any laxity on the part of the parents in assisting and guiding the adolescents may result in academic backwardness and development of unwholesome behaviours, the foundation of what a person becomes in the society is laid in the home and at the initial stage of life. Parents therefore have important roles to play in seeing to it that the youths acquire the appropriate social, psychological, moral and academic development.

In Nigeria, among the Yorubas for example, the parental roles are culturally determined. Maternal role is that of childcare and home making while the paternal role is that of economic responsibilities and discipline of children. Generally, it is the responsibility of the family, to train and bring up the child in the norms and values of the society. They are to be responsible for the psychological and emotional welfare of the child. The parents are mainly responsible for the educational and career development of their children. However, divorce and separation of various kinds or death of one spouse may leave the roles in the hands of a single parent. A considerable amount of research has recognized the importance of social contexts in determining engaging school behaviour of adolescents. In general, the emphasis has been placed on three different socialization agents, namely family, teachers and peers (Fredricks, Blumenfeld & Paris, 2004; Simons-Morton & Chen, 2009; Stewart, 2007). In their article, they focus on the family as it is often considered as the most important socialization agent for youngsters (Grusec & Davidov, 2007; Hillaker, Brophy-Herb, Villarruel, & Haas, 2008). Driven by the sharp increase in family instability, the question is raised whether this would have lasting negative consequences on school outcomes of adolescents, as education is considered the key factor in determining the long-term economic success of adolescents. Living in a non intact family makes adolescents more likely to be less engaged and detached from school and work (Brown, 2004; Hess, 2010).

Education is becoming more and more one of the most important social cleavages within society, as it clearly divides the haves from the have-nots (Berlin, Furstenberg, & Waters, 2010). Individuals with a higher educational degree have more chances at the labour market, whereas those with a lower educational degree struggle more to find a job and often have a lower occupational status and income (Pong, 1997; Amato, 2005). For adolescents, school forms one of the most important life spheres. Next to their home and family, adolescents spend most of their time at school, because education forms a clear stratifying mechanism in society, school outcomes of youngsters are important to investigate. They signal the future position of adolescents within society. Whereas the objective school outcomes for adolescents have been studied abundantly (Astone & Mclanahan, 1994; Bean, 1985; Evans, Kelley, & Wanner, 2001), the more subjective school outcomes are equally important to investigate (Van Houtte, 2004).

These latter types of school outcomes are in the same way part of their school experience that forms them and leads to several consequences within their current and later life (Johnson, Crosnoe, & Elder, 2001). To illustrate, disengaged students will have lower academic and career aspirations, which can limit their career options (Finn & Rock, 1997; Kenny, Blustein, Chaves, Grossman, & Gallagher, 2003).

Adolescents difficulties in school often originate outside the school environment. This therefore placed emphasis on parental separation as a factor that influences adolescents academic performance. They examined the subjective outcome of school engagement that considers whether adolescents are concerned with their studies, if they are inquisitive and eager to learn, or if they dislike school and are averted to their studies. They searched for differences between adolescents in intact and non-intact families. Does growing up in a broken family affect academic performance? Are adolescents who experienced a parental separation differently affected by family contexts when school engagement is analyzed? Answers to these questions would tell the extent to which parental separation can affect the academic performance of adolescents in schools.

Single parenting could be defined as a situation in which one of the two individuals, involved in the conception of the child is being responsible for upbringing of the child. Single parenthood may arise when either the male or female decides to produce and rear a child or children outside wedlock. A child from homes where the father and the mother are present will be well taken care of and socialised in the best way possible (Asana, 2008). This is due to the fact that the process of socialization depends on both parents playing complimentary roles in bringing up the child. Such a child is likely to achieve self-actualisation later in life, Children from single-parent homes are likely to suffer deprivation and denial of some rights and opportunities. Adolescents’ from-broken homes are usually associated with anti-social behaviour and poor academic records. The problem of deprivation of a second parent is bad enough but when the remaining parent cannot cope with the resultant problems a tragic situation arises. In such a situation, the child becomes a misfit in the society.

The family is the first socialising agent the child comes into contact with, it has a great influence on the child’s physical, mental and moral development (Brien, 2006). The family lays the foundation of education before the child goes to school and the personality that the child takes to school is determined by the home. It’s important to note that both parents have roles to play in child education. The father is to provide the necessary tools for the educational advancement while the mother is supposed to supplement the father’s efforts in this regard. When the father is absent and the mother is not privileged enough to cater for all the basic needs as well as supervised the academic performance of the child he/she (the child) will be backward or withdrawn.

The same thing occurs when the mother is absent and the father is not privileged enough (Fisbet, 2005). A single parent faces doubled responsibilities requiring time, attention and money of the parent- Hence, less attention is paid to the education of the child. Teachers commonly describe children from single or separate parents as more hostile, aggressive, anxious, fearful, hyperactive and distractible than children from intact families. Hence, the need to Investigate the influence of single parent family on students academic performance, Investigate the influence of parent socio- economic status on students academic performance, Investigate if students from single parent family will performed better than students intact family, Investigate if students gender have any influence on students academic performance to the purpose of study as it goes a long way on student academic achievement.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Often times it is said that a child is a product of his immediate environment and this environment ranges from the physical environment to the social environment to the genetic or biological environment. These environmental factors would to a large extent determine the behavioural pattern of these children of which the attitude to their academics would not be left out. Needless to say that the family as an agent of socialization in the environment has an effect on the academic performance of adolescents because the kind of family one comes from affects his or her academic performance.

The school performance of students could be traced back to their homes as we view that the home is the first point of call for every individual so any way an individual is raised from the home whether by a single parent or both parents would most likely affect the academic achievement of the children.

Separation of parents from children tends to pose a serious threat to attainment of their educational goals since they (the children affected) lack the necessary parental role or care from parents. This is a problem that needs to be addressed so as to avoid any possible backwardness in academic attainment of students concerned.

There are many students within our school system that come from single parent or separated parent families. Due to the many issues that stems from such family model, some students are unable to reach their full potential. As such parent model rapidly becomes the norm, it is necessary to find a way to address these issues so as to provide students and parents with solutions to help them achieve or perform to their highest ability.

In essence, separation of parents may be caused by various factors such as geographical location, nature of family, parental socio-economic status to family size and parents wish among others.

It is therefore a necessity that for any separation to occur, caution should be taken to avert the level of negative effect it could have on a student affected.

It is against this backdrop that a study of this magnitude becomes imperative with a view to investigate the effect of parental separation on academic achievement of students in some selected secondary schools in Education District II in Lagos State.

1.3 Purpose of the Study

The major objective of this study is to investigate the influence of parental separation on the academic achievement of secondary schools students in Lagos Educational District II. Specifically, the researcher seek to :

  1. Investigate the influence of single parent family on students academic performance
  2. Investigate the influence of parent socio- economic status on students academic performance
  3. Investigate if students from single parent family will performed better than students intact family
  4. Investigate if students gender have any influence on students academic performance

1.4 Research Questions

  1. Will single parent family have any significant influence on students academic performance?
  2. Do parent socio- economic status have any significant influence on students academic performance?
  3. Do students from single parent family performed better than students from intact family ?
  4. Does students gender have any influence on students academic performance?

1.5 Research Hypothesis

  1. There is no significant relationship between single parent family and students academic performance
  2. There is no significant relationship between parental socio-economic status and students academic performance
  3. There is no significant difference between academic performance of students from single parent family and academic performance of students from intact family.
  4. Gender difference does not have any significant influence on students academic performance

1.6 Significance of the Study

The study hopes to contribute to knowledge by shedding light on the effect of parental separation on the academic achievement of the students in secondary schools. It will also generate enough data for teachers, social workers, government, counsellors, psychologists and parents concerned with the care and welfare of the children under their watch. This study also hopes to inform and guide parents on the need to maintain their homes as separation could have adverse effects on children. In addition, this study would also seek to enlighten students on the effect parental separation and socio-economic status of parents would have on their academic performance.

1.7 Operational Definition of Terms


Parents are caretakers of the offspring in their own specie i.e. one who takes care of his/her biological children.


Guardians are people who by appointment or by relationship have the care a person.


An adolescent is child between childhood and adulthood usually between the ages of 10 and 19.


This is a transitional state of physical and psychological human development that generally occurs during the period from puberty to legal adulthood.


This is the process of promoting and supporting the physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development of a child from infancy to adult hood.


The condition of being apart, especially the condition of two people who had lived together or been married living in different places

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations

5.1 Summary

The study examined the effect of parental separation on academic performance of adolescent students . The first chapter of the study dealt with the introduction of the topic. It is made up of the background of the study, statement of the problem, objectives of the study, significance of the study, scope of the study and operational definition of terms.

The second chapter of the study dealt with the literature review which consisted of the theoretical framework, review of related concept, review of empirical study and research hypotheses. Relevant theories such as Social cognitive theory, Attachment theory and Theory of moral absolutism. Based on the objectives of the study hypotheses are formulated and tested at 0.05 level of significance.

The third chapter of the study dealt with the methodology. This includes the research design, population of study, sample and sampling technique, research instruments, Validity and reliability of research instrument, research procedure, and methods of statistical analysis.

The fourth chapter was concerned with the Sampled of three hundred (300) from students were selected randomly, the analysis was presented in sections. Section one presented respondents characteristics, section two examine the results of findings, and section three is the discussion of findings. While the chapter five dealt with the summary of the study, conclusion, recommendations, limitations of the study and suggestions for further studies.

The following hypotheses were tested in this study:

  • H1: There will be no significant relationship between parental separation and academic performance of the adolescents.
  • H2: There will be no significant relationship between parental separation and the social relationship of the adolescents.
  • H3: There will be no significant relationship between parental separation and adolescent’s interpersonal relationship.

5.2 Conclusion of the study

It is important to remember that as divorce rates continue to increase so does the likelihood that students of divorced parents may have a greater risk of adjusting in areas of educational performance. Students feel the impact of separation as it carries over into the classroom. Students from divorced families show decreased functioning in academic performance and display oppositional behaviour, or signs of anxiety and depression.

These students lack the ability to concentrate in class; declining attendance and willingness to participate in class indicate students are having difficult time adjusting to a transition in family dynamics.

Parental separation has great impact on development of social attitudes of adolescent students in secondary school.
The social behaviours of secondary school adolescents in homes where parents live together differ from the social attitudes of those students from separated parents.

The social attitudes of male and female secondary schools’ adolescent students from separated homes are virtually the same.

Finally, parental separation has a negative impact on the social attitudes of adolescents since the value and attitudes, the customs and traditions of the society are taught to young children in the family by their parents. Therefore, there is connection between parental separation and social attitudes of secondary school adolescents students. Students from separated homes are likely more disposed to negative social attitudes than students from parents living together.

5.3 Recommendations

The following recommendations are made based on the finding of this research.

  1. Counselors, psychologists, social workers and teachers should identify students from divorced families and counsel them and the separated parents should also be counseled on social needs of their children so that their academic work will not suffer at school.
  2. To reduce divorce or separation rates, couples should have enough time for each other and made love and understanding the corner stone of their marriage. For instance, there should effective communication among couples since communication serves as the blood of any relationship.
  3. Pre-marital pregnancy and forced marriages should be discouraged by organizing family life education, seminars, games etc in the schools, churches and communities as much as possible since these situations often result in high state of marriage disruption.
  4. Parents should be reminded of their joint responsibility for raising the child even when the marriage is annulled. This encourages concern about their children’s welfare and co-operation over child rearing issues.
  5. School counsellors should see themselves as parents and guides to the students. Some level of cardinality and friendliness should exist between them and the students so that the students will be free to confide in them.
  6. Government; community organization courts and religions organizations should work together to ensure that all unhappily married couples have access to coun-selling that is both affordable and child cantered.
  7. There should be affective relationship and marriage skill classes. Healthy parenting invariably begins with emotional healthy parents. Encourage people to establish effective relationships; classes of relationship and marriage skills should be incorporated into high school curricular and be a requirement for graduation.
  8. Sequel to the influence of family on adolescents’ social and interpersonal relationships, divorce and conflicts in the home could be avoided by strengthening and improving the quality of family life.
  9. Family casework should be taken with every seriousness as this could help to ameliorate the adverse effects of divorce on the family. Casework should include educating the marriageable age about the great task of marriage life.

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