Discernible trend: more households led by single fathers

A writer in a recent article on family law poses this question: “How did single fatherhood go from terrifying to increasingly normal?”

“Normal” is concededly a relative term, but it certainly bears noting that American households with minor children that are run by single dads had increased by a multiple of nine from 1960 to 2011. That information comes courtesy of a Pew Research study, which also cites a four-fold increase in single-mother households over the same period.

Of course, moms are still leading the charge in absolute numbers, with Pew reporting that in 2011 about 2.6 million single dads oversaw households, with that number being about 8.6 million for single women.

The gap is obviously narrowing, though, with writer Caroline Kitchener noting a “growing societal acceptance of fathers as primary caregivers.”

Pew researchers say that change owes appreciably to evolving judicial standards in parts of the country that are more often stressing child custody outcomes marked by joint parenting. This often encompasses joint physical custody, which has brought many men forward as primary caregivers in a way that contrasts mightily to traditional notions of every-other-weekend dads.

One psychologist who is immersed in child custody statutory law says that the perceived norm is important in shaping how men view their parenting roles. Many men, including Georgia fathers, have long believed that the courts favor women in custody battles and, because of that view, have not pushed hard for increased time with their kids.

That is now changing, with greater realization among men across the country that the judicial winds may be shifting.

According to the Pew Research Center, about eight percent of all American homes are now led by single fathers.

Source: The Atlantic, “The rise of the single dad,” Caroline Kitchener, Feb. 24, 2014

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