Double Jeopardy: The Psycho-Educational Effects of Absent Parenting on Children with Specific Learning Disabilities
A Case of Masvingo Urban, Zimbabwe
The economic hardships which have plagued Zimbabwe have led to the movement of the adult population who are largely parents to the Diaspora. This trend has created "absent parents". This study sought to explore the psychological and educational effects of this absent parenting on children with specific learning disabilities left behind. The researcher used a quasi-experimental design to collect data, specifically; the researcher administered a standardized achievement test, the Wide Range Achievement Test (WRAT LEVEL 1) to twenty-four children with learning disabilities under controlled conditions. Twelve (12) of the learners had absent parents and twelve (12) were staying with both parents. Questionnaires and School based tests were used to complement the data from the standardized test results. The questionnaires were administered to professionals dealing with the children who include educational psychologists and specialist teachers. SPSS version 11.5 was used to analyse data. School based test results were analysed over a period of one year, from April 2011, when most children with absent parents were still living with their parents and March 2012 when the parents had since left for the Diaspora. Results revealed that children physically staying with both parents performed significantly better on the standardized test than those staying with one or no parents, (t=3.448, significance value of .005). All children with absent parents witnessed an average 27.53% decline in performance after the departure of their biological parents. This study also revealed that learning disabled children with absent parents exhibited a decline in self esteem which could also explain their poor academic performance. This study recommends that, where possible, parents should move with their children especially those with learning disabilities when they decide to migrate. Future researchers should consider exploring the effects of absent parenting on older children.