Senior Find Success Despite the Challenge of Having a Single Parent

By Ian Woodruff

Graduate Antonio Cornieles takes a selfie with his mother. Photo Credit, Ana Cornieles.

More than 1 of 4 children (19.7 million) live without a father in their home, according to the National Fatherhood Initiative.

Senior Antonio Cornieles grew up without his father. His mother was moving around and did not realize she was pregnant until she had moved away from Cornieles’s father. His mother and family attempted to contact the father but were unsuccessful, and Cornieles grew up without a father.

“If anything I think that he’s just not around, and it’s not something that I am bitter about or that I think I’m not as well off as I should be because of it. If anything I think maybe the only thing it has affected me by, is my mom has had to support us on one income the entire time that she’s had to raise me,” said Cornieles.

Cornieles believes that living on a single income is the biggest effect that comes from not having his father in his life is. According to U.S. Single Parent Households, nearly 30% of single mother families live under the poverty line, and 90% of single mothers receive welfare. Living by yourself with your own income isn’t a big deal, but when you have to financially support children and yourself, things can become difficult. Additionally, the single parent may need to leave work to take care of kids or take breaks from work to tend to their needs. This can cause a lower income because of constant leave.

“If it’s [father’s absence] affected my schooling,” said Cornieles. “I’d like to think that it has affected it in a positive way, a beneficial way, because one of the biggest driving motivations I’ve had is to do well in school, and to become successful really is to make my mom proud, and that’s always something that’s been at the center of what drives me.”

According to U.S. Single Parent Households, “40% of all live births in the US are to single mothers.” While this statistic doesn’t reflect whether the fathers return to the family afterwards, this still leaves millions of children to grow up without fathers.

“I definitely think that in many situations not having a father figure in people’s lives, or not having a father, is going to negatively affect people’s lives,” said Cornieles.  “It’s hard for one person to raise a child all by themselves, and I was lucky that my mom had the support system she did, and that I have the type of family I do, that I wasn’t one of those people who would, because of the absence of their father, gravitate towards things that would negatively affect me. Which is so easy to do without that extra support.”

Cornieles is an AP student and also attends KAMSC. This coming year he will be attending the University of Michigan. He is not like others living without a father in their life, according to U.S. Single Parent Households, “70% of gang members, high school dropouts, teen suicides, teen pregnancies and teen substance abusers come from single mother homes.”

This statistic demonstrates another terrible possible side-effect from living with a single parent. This is not the parent’s fault though, most single parents have to work enough that they won’t be home very often, and children look for things to help fill the missing gap in their lives. Cornieles believes that strong positive family support can keep children away from negative coping methods.

“My family really believed in the idea it takes a village [to raise a child], and they were all there for my mom because she still had to go to work and go to college to get her degree,” said Cornieles. “So who was babysitting me when she was at work or taking classes? It was my grandma or my aunt and my aunt. So they all had a huge influence in my life, and they all pushed me to be better than that and to rise above that [negative coping methods for the absence of a father] and to focus on my education.”