Single Fatherhood Essay, Research Paper
Single fathers are a minority. They are rare, but growing rapidly as more and more people can fathom a father being able to satisfy the needs of his children. Single fathers are not given sole custody without a fight. A much harder one than what a Mother would have to endure. Normally, custody is given to the mother. Lately, however, fathers are starting to care more about their childrens best interests, and are begining to fight against the sterotypes society has dealt them.
Being the child of a single father, I have heard the stories. For 17 years I have heard the stories. But could society have been so blind? No. The courts could have, though. Statistics I have collected showed that even when both the mother and father agreed that the father should have custody, the father was only awarded it 75% of the time. This is mostly due to the strong, traditional, presumption by the courts that, a child needs it’s mother especially when it is young. A child does need its mother, but also needs a father too.
Over the last hundred years, society has been forced to break a lot of its stereotypes. The biggest one being that women belong in the kitchen. Women in the workforce has increased 100 fold since the 1940’s, and continue to grow steadily. Through womens rights movements, and suffragettes, women became equal to men. Now, women receive equal pay to men, and are given equal treatment by the judicial system. With fierce competition from women, men in the workforce are starting to realize they do not need to support the whole family with their income. Now the mother can help pay the mortgage, and treat the family for dinner. This has provided men with more time to play a more active role in their childs life.
Common responses to seeing a man at the park with his child usually are something like this:
- He must work night shift
- Maybe he doesn’t have a job
- Where’s the mother?
Society seems to have a gap between the image of fathers and the actual role of fathers.
Now, the fastest growing family unit in the United States are single fathers with sole custody of children under the age of 18. In 1970, there were 393,000 single fathers with sole custody. That number jumped to 1.9 million in 1996. Of these numbers, 48% are divorced, 28% were never married, 18% were seperated, and 5% are widowed. underlying this gradual shift is the attitude more and more people are taking towards men and womens societal roles. Along with being more career oriented, women are starting to feel less guilty about losing custody to their partner, and are finding that they aren’t always the more suitable parent. At the same time, men are no longer feeling such a strong need to be defined by their job. Also, fathers fear that once they are divorced, they will rarely see their kids, and do not want to be part-time parents.
Father-by-default families are another contributing factor to the shift. In this case, the mothers were either not found, or had drug-addiction or alcohol dependency problems, and child welfare agencies sought the fathers. This is most prominent in poverty stricken families. Single father adoption numbers have jumped significantly as well thanks to gay fathers rights groups, and political pressure from the gay community.
Single Father Numbers (US)
1990 – 2010
1990 1995 2000
Number Percent Number Number Percent
TOTAL 1,553 100% 1,366 1,523 100%
Younger than 25 96 8.3% 90 102 6.7%
25 to 34 349 30.2% 437 482 31.6%
35 to 44 458 39.7% 544 604 39.7%
45 to 54 193 16.7% 220 259 17.0%
55 to 64 38 3.3% 48 55 3.6%
65 to 74 13 1.1% 12 11 0.7%
75 and older 7 0.6% 7 10 0.6%
2005* 2010* Number Number Percent
TOTAL 1,598 1,660 100%
Younger than 25 113 120 7.2%
25 to 34 511 571 34.4%
35 to 44 600 576 34.7%
45 to 54 283 286 17.2%
55 to 64 68 81 4.9%
65 to 74 12 13 0.8%
75 and older 11 12 0.8%
** Numbers do not add up, due to rounding
Numbers of single fathers with sole custody jumpe