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Single-Parent Families

Demographic Trends, Mother-only And Father-only Families, Challenges Of Single-parenting


Single-parent families can be defined as families where a parent lives with dependent children, either alone or in a larger household, without a spouse or partner. There was a rapid and drastic increase in the number of single-parent families in the latter half of the twentieth century. This change has been used by some to argue that we are witnessing the breakdown of the family (defined as a married couple residing with their dependent offspring) with negative effects for children, families, and society (Popenoe 1996). Others suggest that single-parent families have been present in all societies over time and should not be viewed as deviant or problematic, but rather as an alternative family form (Coontz 1997). Regardless of how family diversity is viewed, the increase in and prevalence of families headed by one parent has a major influence on the social, economic, and political context of family life.


Additional topics

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaFamily Theory & Types of Families