A mother is a child’s greatest teacher – both figuratively and literally. Countless studies across the world have proven the importance of a mother’s education in order for a child to succeed and in some cases, survive. But it would be inaccurate to not acknowledge the existence of the nontraditional family nuclei that should also be factored into the process. In a hetero-normative society, the statistics regarding the family dynamic in LGBTQ couples, although with the same amount of importance, is proportionally less. But, as the diversity of couples increases, the statistics will soon shift as society progresses becomes more inclusive for all people. But this study is just focused on the lack of education mothers have had in comparison to their male counterparts throughout history, and the impact it has on single-mother households.
In the world, rooted centuries ago, there has always been a strong implementation of male education in society. But as researchers study the role of the mother in the family structure, children often either live in a two-parent household or a single-mother household. In America, 4 percent of minors live in single-father households but minors that live with only their mother was six times that percentage (1). The larger population of single mothers prove the importance of researching how their educational level perpetuates a generational cycle of a child’s future.
In a study by Donald J. Hernandez at the City University of New York and Jeffrey S. Napierala at the University at Albany, the researchers analyzed the disparities in children across America by studying the educational levels of their mothers. The results proved that the level of a mother’s education impacted their children on a much deeper level. When comparing households of a mother that did not graduate high school and a mother that obtained a bachelor’s degree, the results were very skewed (2):
- 53 vs. 4 percent for the official federal poverty rate
- 84 vs. 13 percent for the low-income rate (family income below twice the official federal poverty threshold)
- $25,000 vs. $106,500 for median family income
- 16 vs. 49 percent for reading proficiently (at grade level) in Eighth Grade
- 16 vs. 52 percent for proficiency in mathematics (at grade level) in Eighth Grade
With these statistics, it becomes harder to ignore the impact education has — not only as a parental role but in families and communities across the world. Having better-educated parents will lead to a higher income household leading to greater educational opportunities that will lead to long-term success in life. Because of this impact, education holds a weight upon children that is almost inherently given based upon their socioeconomic status and their country of birth.
As the impact education has on the economy of a country is evident, it has also been shown that education reduces child mortality, specifically in developing countries. Parents with education on prevention of diseases, proper sanitation, and health interventions have caused the statistic to go from 8.2 million fewer deaths in 2009 among children younger than 5 then there were in 1970. Of those “averted deaths,” 4.2 million were the result of better-educated mothers and 590,000 the result of higher-income households (3). It is so important to acknowledge that education is a universal need for all people and is a large pillar of societal progress.