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Single parent

From Academic Kids

A single parent is a parent with one or more children, who is neither married, nor living together with his or her partners. Among divorced parents, courts have made single mothers more common than single fathers. The definition of single parents may vary according to local laws of nations or provinces. But in typical cases, a woman may be a single parent after divorce, after giving birth to or adopting a child outside marriage, or after the father has died. A man can never be a single parent due solely to birth outside marriage, but may be a single parent if his spouse has died, or in rare cases, after divorce.

Some single mothers may have chosen to be so voluntarily through pregnancy, adoption, or divorce. But for some others, it is the result of unintended pregnancy while not wanting or not having the opportunity for abortion, marriage, or widowhood. Financial problems or other social circumstances often play a role. Especially in the US, teenage single mothers have become a serious social issue (see also teenage pregnancy).

This phenomenon has become one of the serious social issues in advanced countries. A single father is less common, because many single parenthoods are caused by pregnancies after which the father is excluded by the mother, and because after divorce, more often the woman gets custody of the children. In the case the mother has no relationship with the father, it is even more likely that the child will stay with the mother; the father may even be hidden from the child, or has disappeared in other ways. A single father is considered much less commonly a social issue and gets far less support from governments. The typical case of a man turning into a single father probably entails that his wife died or abandoned the family. Among divorced single parents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 15% of custodial parents in 2002 were men[1] (http://www.census.gov/prod/2003pubs/p60-225.pdf).

Sometimes, when a woman is pregnant, she and the father of the child feel the need to marry, or to marry earlier than planned, to avoid the shame (in some societies) and the legal complications of being a single mother, or to enable the child to legally have two parents. This is sometimes referred to as a "forced marriage". It has become more common in Japan and the United States because couples over there usually feel they have little reason to get married.

While many view single parents as being a modern phenomenon the percentage of single parents has remained relatively constant. For instance in 1900 13% of Canadian families were single parent ones, in 1996 the number was 14%. The major change is in cause. In 1900 most single parent families were the result of the death of a parent, while in 1996 they were usually caused by divorce. To put these figures into perspective, the population of Canada in 1900 was 5,301,000 and in 1996 it was 29,671,892.

Single parent homes are often described as "broken". This is a misnomer as many children living with only one parent lead productive social and educational existences. However, in cases of divorce, some children feel that they have been excluded from seeing their fathers or mothers. This is known to have unproductive and damaging effects on a child's development. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, single mothers abuse their children more than double the rate of single fathers[2] (http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/publications/cm01/figure4_4.htm).

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