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- Main article: Demographics of single fathers around the world
In the United States today, there are nearly 13.6 million single parents raising over 21 million children. Single fathers are far less common than single mothers, constituting 16% of single-parent families. According to Single Parent Magazine, the number of single fathers has increased by 60% in the last ten years, and is one of the fastest growing family situations in the United States. 60% of single fathers are divorced, by far the most common cause of this family situation. In addition, there is an increasing trend of men having children through surrogate mothers and raising them alone. While fathers are not normally seen as primary caregivers, statistics show that 90% of single-fathers are employed, and 72% have a full-time job.
"Father" has been variously defined throughout history as provider, dad, and even sire, carrying connotations of being demanding, disciplinary, and even cruel; yet, as the writer Armstrong Williams remarks in the article "The Definition of Father," "...every father must take the time to be a dad as well as a friend, disciplinarian, shoulder to cry on, dance partner, coach, audience, adviser, listener, and so much more." Williams, the writer quoted above, goes on to say that he viewed his father as the driving force in his family and also someone who brought strength and compassion to his family. In addition to these qualities, the single father must take on the role of the mother, are role that extends deep into morality, devotion, and the ability to set up an educational yet nurturing environment. Thus it is the father's role to be a source of both resilience and strength, and love and compassion.
Effects on single fathers
Little research has been done to suggest the hardships of the "single father as a caretaker" relationship; however, a great deal has been done on the hardships of a single-parent household. Single-parent households tend to find difficulty with the lack of help they receive. More often than not a single parent finds it difficult to find help because there is a lack of support, whether it be a second parent or other family members. This tends to put a strain on not only the parent but also the relationship between the parent and their child. Furthermore, dependency is a hardship that many parents find difficult to overcome. As the single parent becomes closer to their child, the child grows more and more dependent upon that parent. This dependency, while common, may reach far past childhood, damaging the child due to their lack of independence from their parent. "Social isolation of single parents might be a stress factor that they transmit to children. Another explanation may be that the parents do not have the time needed to support and supervise their children. This can have a negative impact on the child."
Just as above, it has been found that little 'specific' research to the positives of the father as a single parent has been done; however, there are various proven pros that accompany single parenting. One proven statistic about single fathers includes a that a single father tends to use more positive parenting techniques than a married father. As far as non-specific pros, a strong bond tends to be formed between parent and child in single-parenting situations, allowing for an increase in maturity and a closeness in the household. Gender roles are also less likely to be enforced in a single parent home because the work and chores are more likely to be shared among all individuals rather than specifically a male or female.
Effects on children
- Child custody
- Child visitation
- Custodial parent
- Family structure
- Mother absence
- Mothers rights
- Marital status
- Never married
- Noncustodial parent
- Parental absence
- Shared parenting
- Single mothers
- Single persons
- Supervised visitation
- Single Parent Statistics. Single Parent Magazine. URL accessed on 11/13/2011.
- Single-Parent Families - Single Fathers Compared to Single Mothers. Net Industries and its Licensors. URL accessed on 10/18/2011.
- What Do Single Parent Statistics Tell Us?. Single Parent Center. URL accessed on 7 December 2011.
- father. Website. Dictionary.com. URL accessed on 11/13/2011.
- Williams, Armstrong The Definition of Father. NewsMax.com. URL accessed on 11/13/2011.
- Boehlke, Julie Livestrong.com. Demand Media, Inc.. URL accessed on 11/13/2011.
- includeonly>Williams, Erica. "Children in Single Parent Homes and Emotional Problems", Howard University, February 6, 2003. Retrieved on 11/14/2011.
- Better Health Channel. Online Article. State Government of Victoria. URL accessed on 2 December 2011.