Background of the Study

It is a universal cultural idea that life should be orderly and that families, like clocks, should run smoothly, quietly leading to continuity of life. But this did not seem to be so in many societies, where all forms of family instability is other of the day. Various forms of family instability, which reflect disruptive events that undermine the continuity, cohesiveness, and predictability of family life from the child's perspective, have been shown to increase children's vulnerability to psychological problems (Ackerman, Kogos, Youngstrom, Schoff, & Izard, 2009). For example, residential changes, parental illness, parental romantic relationship transitions, and changes in caregivers are specific disruptive events that have been associated with a wide range of maladjustment among children. Thus, any single disruptive event, such as divorce, is part of a larger constellation of family instability characterized by parental marital transitions, frequent moving, income and occupational changes, and disruptions in family routines.

Marriage is the oldest social institution ordained by God as a social contract between two individuals to become husband and wife. Marriage as ordained by God gives legitimacy to sexual relationship and reproduction for legitimate children (Sarker, 2007). Marriage is the state of being united with a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife for the purpose companionship, procreation maintaining a family (Gove, 2006). However, family instability has become a thing of concern in this contemporary society and this is associated with separation, divorce, and widowhood. Separation and divorce are social phenomena created by either husband or the wife or both, but widowhood is beyond the control of human being, it is related to death and thus universal (Amina 2008). Meanwhile, separation may be in two categories: physical separation i.e. when the husband and the wife reside separately without resolving their marital tie; mental separation i.e. when the couple decides to live together in the same household but without having biological and psychologicalrelations. It is imperative to note that when marriage is dissolved in the court of law, it is called divorce, but when it is dissolved by death is called widowhood (Amina, 2008).

Parents play an important role in shaping the adult lives of their children. They invest their time and money in activities that affect their offspring's well-being. A family can be recognized as a unit of people who have agreed to live together as father, mother and children. It is a single protective umbrella in the wider society. As an umbrella it protects, covers or shield it members from the buffeting characteristics of a wider society. It is an institution that protects, covers, shield and nurture it members. Abayomi (2014) opined that family members are important to each other and offer each other love and support. The family protects its members from external attachment by proving food, clothes shelter and care. The young ones grow to trust the family as a place of peace and comfort sharing their problem with the family member than outsiders. This is because family members respect and love each other and would like to keep their secret. It is not ideal for family member to expose each other secret; they are supposed to bear each other burden. Chukwuemeka (2012) defined family as a set of people related by blood, marriage or some other agreed upon relationship or adoption who shares the primary responsibility for reproduction and caring for the members.

According to Olaoye (2017) defined family instability as a situation where the family knows no peace poor structure and organization, emotional separation of members and poor relationship with relation in-laws. Josh (2008) defined upbringing children as the rearing of children, especially the care love and guidance given by parents. Meanwhile, the term marital instability is used to refer to the process whereby marriages breakdown through separation, desertion or divorce (Lesmin& Sarah, 2008).

Wikipedia, (2019) opined that child adaptive behaviour refers to behavior that enables a person (usually used in the context of children) to get along in his or her environment with greatest success and least conflict with others. This is a term used in the areas of psychology and special education. Adaptive behavior relates to every day skills or tasks that the average person is able to complete, similar to the term k. Non-constructive or disruptive social or personal behaviors can sometimes be used to achieve a constructive outcome. For example, a constant repetitive action could be re-focused on something that creates or builds something. In other words, the behavior can be adapted to something else.

In contrast, maladaptive behavior is a type of behavior that is often used to reduce one's anxiety, but the result is dysfunctional and non-productive. For example, avoiding situations because you have unrealistic fears may initially reduce your anxiety, but it is non-productive in alleviating the actual problem in the long term. Maladaptive behavior is frequently used as an indicator of abnormality or mental dysfunction, since its assessment is relatively free from subjectivity. However, many behaviors considered moral can be maladaptive, such as dissent or abstinenceWikipedia, (2019). Adaptive behavior reflects child social and practical competence to meet the demands of everyday living. Behavior patterns change throughout a person's development, across life settings and social constructs, changes in personal values, and the expectations of others. It is important to assess adaptive behavior in order to determine how well an individual functions in daily life: vocationally, socially and educationally.

Children’s early experiences in their environments shape who they are and affect their overall well-being. To attain their full potentials, children need not only safe and stable housing, adequate and nutritious food, access to medical care, secure relationships with adult caregivers, nurturing and responsive parenting, quality learning opportunities at home and in school; they also need an environment (at home) that is conducive for the totality of their psychosocial well-being and development. Research has shown that a large number of children face instability in their lives provided by parental conflicts resulting from myriad of factors – these predict children’s outcomes (Lesmin& Sarah, 2008).

The increase in divorce rates is one of the most visible changes in African societies and family lives. These changes have brought about various concerns, some of which focusing on their economic implications, others on the effects on child development, and “still others that see them as moral problems related to a breakdown of the family institution and influence of Western culture” (Wilson, 2014). For the scope of this work, the researcher focuses on the second concern, that is, on the effects of family instability on child adaptive behaviour and various children’s outcomes. There is, no doubt a large research literature analyzing the effects of family instability. Several studies from various countries have tried to estimate the economic, social, health, and psychological consequences of family instability on child adaptive behavior, and generally found that family instability is associated with some negative outcomes on, at least, the other party (although it may have positive psychological effects on some). The concentration here is on child adaptive behavior with reference to Nigeria, a country already faced with myriad of family challenges that place the child development in a precarious state.

Statement of the Problem

In recent time, it has been observed that family instability in Nigeria has increased radically; this phenomenon has resulted into various social problems as a result of unchecked effects by the social welfare, government, and individual themselves. Children brought up in such homes encounter problems moving from mother to father in order meet their needs and when they cannot cope with the situation they indulge in various social vices like truancy, robbery, stealing, drug trafficking, prostitution and other socially vices. These normally affect the society as a whole because family is the nucleus of the bedrock of the society. However, this study examined the effect of family instability on child adaptive behaviour in Ikere Local Government Area of Ekiti State.

Purpose of the Study

The major purpose of this study was to find out the effect of family instability on child adaptive behaviour in Ikere local government area of Ekiti State. This study is being undertaken with the following objectives;

                    i.            To critically examine the nature and cause of family instability

                 ii.            To find out the socio-economic state of the children who are victim of marital instability.

               iii.            To explore the problems of separated and divorced parent and their children in relation to criminal activities.

               iv.            To investigate the effect of family instability on child adaptive behaviour

Research Questions

The study will provide answers to the following research questions:

                    i.            What are the nature and cause of family instability in Ikere Local government area of Ekiti State?

                 ii.            Does socio-economic state of the children who are victim of family instability have effect on their behavior in the study area?

               iii.            What are the problems of separated / divorced parent on their children in relation to criminal activities?

               iv.            What are the adaptive behaviour of children from unstable family?

Significance of the Study

It is envisaged that the findings of this study may expose some factors that might be responsible for poor performance of pupils’ in school and maladjusted behaviour of child. The identified areas where government at different levels could come in to bridge the gap of educational attainment of children from family instability in the society. The importance of achieving the objectives of education programmed among the general populace cannot be over emphasized.

Practically, the finding of this study will be useful to the following: the teachers, pupils, parents, school guidance counselors, Parents Teachers Association (PTA), educational administrators and the society at large. This method may yield more positive result than the traditional system which assumes that all children have similar family background. The findings of the study will also help teachers to exercise patience with slow-learners as they vary methods of instruction to accommodate divergent family instability.

The findings will be of immense importance to pupils. The pupils will realize that their poor behaviour might not necessarily be their fault alone, especially those from divorce families. Such knowledge will go a long way to reduce frustration in the pupils and also reduce drop-outs which occur as a result of frustration. Rather, the pupils should be made to adjust and help themselves

Through the findings of this study, parents will realize the importance of good parenting on child adaptive behavior and the influence on their children’s academic performance. Parents will also understand the need for them to settle the family problems in order to improve child behaviour,  so as to be able to provide the necessary motivation in form of learning materials and other things which will enhance their children’s behaviour. This study would encourage parents to try as much as possible to create a peaceful and loving home for the benefit of their children’s education social and psychological lives. They will equally acknowledge the importance of positive motivations and encouragement and provide some by making the family environment more conducive for their children.

Scope of Study

The study is will be limited a single parent; separate/divorce in Ikere local government area Ekiti State. The researcher will employed questionnaire to gather information and question will be ask from respondent if he/she is a single parent before administer the questionnaire. The context scope of this study is limited to finding the effect of family instability on child adaptive behavior with particular reference to Ikere Local Government Area of Ekiti State.


Definition of Terms

Family: In the context of human society, a family is a group of people affiliated either by consanguinity (by recognized birth), affinity (by marriage or other relationship), or co-residence (as implied by the etymology of the English word "family") or some combination of these

Instability: The state of being unstable; lack of stability.

Implication: The conclusion that can be drawn from something although it is not explicitly stated.

Child Upbringing: Child upbringing is not an easy task. Both husband and wife have important role to play in the home front so as to raise good children that will be useful to the family and society at large. Some parents have failed in their responsibilities to their children. As long as parents do not play their roles adequately, these children

Parent: The term parent are used in this study includes, in addition to a natural parent a legal guardian or other person standing in loco parentis, such as a grandparent or stepparent with whom the child lives, or a person who is legally responsible for a child’s welfare

Parenting style: - The overall emotional climate of the parent-child relationship – an effective context of sorts that sets the tone for the parent’s interactions with the child.

Parental Involvement: - Any form of verbal or non-verbal communication or assistance in references to a child’s homework.



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