We often focus on the parents' marital situation as the key factor in a child's experience—but whether a child is raised by a single parent or a married couple is a minor issue compared to whether she's raised in financial comfort, a study says. "Resources led to bigger differences in parenting than family structure," family science professor Sandra Hofferth tells LiveScience after analyzing census data. Some 93% of married parents of kids aged six to 11, for example, had at least one rule against watching too much TV; among single parents, the number was quite similar, at 90%. In another example, 54% of married parents read to three- to five-year-olds every day, while cohabiting unmarried parents read daily at a similar rate of 50%.
Big differences centered instead on whether a family faced poverty; LiveScience offers examples centering on kids' involvement in activities. Some 42.5% of kids in families with incomes at least double the poverty line played sports, while 35% of kids in the same group were involved in clubs or lessons of some sort. Those figures were 22.5% and 20% for children of families experiencing poverty. But, as Slate points out, the study isn't saying that lower-income parents aren't doing a good job. In fact, Hofferth says, most US parents are doing a good job on parenting indicators she studied, the Council on Contemporary Families reports. Still, the poverty rate is higher among US children than among kids in any other developed country, Hofferth notes. One in five American children is on food stamps. (Read more parenting stories.)