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Single-Parent Families - Mother-only And Father-only Families

custody fathers children mothers

Single-parent families are generally categorized by the sex of the custodial parent (mother-only or father-only families). Mother-only families include widows, divorced and separated women, and never-married mothers. In the case of divorce, mothers are usually given custody in the United States and other developed countries. In Italy, in 1997, for example, 90 percent of children whose parents divorced went into the custody of their mothers. Since the vast majority of single parents are mothers, most of the research focuses on female-headed families. However, regardless of sex, single parents share similar problems and challenges (Grief 1985).

In the past, father-only families formed as a result of widowhood, desertion by the mother, or wives refusing custody. There has been a 25 percent increase in the number of single fathers in the United States—from 1.7 to 2.1 million—from 1995 to 1998. In 1997, Canadian fathers received sole custody in 11 percent of the cases and joint custody in 28 percent. The increase in father-only families is due, in part, to the efforts of fathers to obtain custody of their children. Although most fathers in the United States do not request custody during divorce proceedings, about one-half to two-thirds of those who do are awarded custody. In 1995 2.5 million U.S. children resided with a single father, an increase from 1 percent of children in 1970 to 4 percent. Single fathers in the United States are twice as common in white families (16%) as compared with black families (8%). Although single fathers are slightly better educated than single mothers, on average, both groups are less likely to be college graduates and more likely to have dropped out of high school than married parents.

There are an estimated one million noncustodial mothers in the United States, with 75 percent voluntarily giving up custody. The primary reasons women give up custody include: inadequate financial resources, child's preference for living with the father, difficulty in controlling the children, threats of legal custody battles, and physical or emotional problems experienced by the mother. Almost all (97%) noncustodial mothers actively maintain a relationship with their children (Herrerias 1995).

Fathers increase their chances of getting custody when they pay child support, when the children are older, and when the oldest child is male. Single fathers report that they feel competent as primary parents and, in taking responsibility for the activities of caregiving usually assigned to mothers, are able to develop intimate and affectionate relationships with their children (Risman 1986). Other factors supporting their transition into A single father in Texas takes his son for a check-up. Single fathers report that they feel competent as primary caregivers and are able to develop affectionate relationships with their children. A/P WIDE WORLD PHOTOS primary parenthood include financial security, prior involvement in housework and child care during the marriage, satisfaction with child-care arrangements, and a shared sense of responsibility for the marital breakup (Greif 1985).


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about 10 years ago

Thank you very much on the content of this article. I am a living example of this type of family.

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over 10 years ago

I have raised a daughter it seems on my own for the last several years due to divorce. The mother has not abandoned her daughter, but we both agreed that she would live with me. It has been a challenge especially when the child becomes older. The parent with the lesser custody role is alienated from the child's relationship. Our daughter is somewhat disrespectful to her mother and not necesarily any more respectful of me. It is a tragedy in my mind for children of single parents as I believe that it takes a mother and father to raise, educate, and teach them right from wrong. For me our daughter's personnality is more like mine than her mother, I wish her personallity could be a compromise of both parents.