During the last 50 years, the number of single-father households in the United States has grown nine-fold. That is twice the pace of growth for single-mother households.
One in every 12 households with children is now headed by an unmarried father. That amounts to 2.7 million households in America. In 1960 there were only 297,000 single-dad households or 1 in 100.
Social changes have strongly affected the United States in the last half-century. Divorce rates have risen and other factors have increased the numbers of children being raised in families that don’t include two married people.
Fathers are now increasingly being valued as not only a breadwinner but as a caregiver.
Married fathers typically have more income and more education than do single fathers. The single father demographic is similar to the single mother demographic: younger and more likely to be a minority.
Married fathers reported to the 2010 census a median income of $70,000. Single dads reported a median household income of $40,000. Single moms reported the lowest income of just $26,000.
About 8% of married fathers are considered to be poor. When looking at single dads, this number jumps to 25%. Part of this is attributed to 17% of married fathers not having a college degree while 40% of unmarried fathers have not earned a college degree.
Parenting is more important and more difficult when there is only one parent. Single mothers are much more recognized as a demographic in the United States. Public and private assistance is designed to help the single mother.
Single dads, despite their high numbers and staggering growth rate, are often overlooked when it comes to assistance and support. Many misconceptions abound about single fathers and what kind of real world experiences, difficulties and failures they endure.
When it comes to dads, what words come to mind: “Mr. Mom”, “Baby Daddy”, “Absentee Father” and of course “Deadbeat Dad.”
Single dads have to remember that they need to raise their children as a father, not as a mother. Dads generally spend time with the kids by reading to them from a sports page. I don’t mean to use stereotypes, but these things tend to be dad things, with or without a mom in the household. Dads more often laugh about the laundry piles than they do worrying about if they will ever catch up. Dads may take the kids fishing or some other activity, knowing the laundry won’t run away while they have fun. Dads tend to remember better that people, including kids, are “wash and wear.” Dads will jump into the mud with their kids not freak out about them getting dirty. Why do you think there are so many mud covered big wheeled vehicles out there?
The general stereotype for “single dad” remains the picture of some clueless lummox in an apron who burns the macaroni and cheese and serves it to a child that is not completely dressed and has a bad haircut.
One single dad remembers when he discovered a group of similar men. He says that he and the other guys were grunting cordially at one another as many men do when they are starting to be acquainted. At their feet, the children were getting to know each and were already creating silly nicknames.
Are men and women different? Of course they are. But so what? But the discussion about single parenthood should never, ever be about the parents. They must always be about the little ones who give them their trust that the single parents will behave like adults, and so, bring grace into everyone’s life.
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