Support for Single Dads
While all fathers are now spending more time caregiving than in the past, single dads raising children are on the rise. A record 8 percent of U.S. households with kids are headed by a single father, up from about 1 percent in 1960, according to a Pew Research Center study. And about 16 percent of children in single-parent homes live just with their fathers, according to a recent U.S. Census report.
Like mothers who are single, single dads are less financially well-off than parents who are married. They are more likely to be younger and to have less education than married counterparts — 18 percent of single dads are younger than 30, compared to just 8 percent of married dads, and only 7 percent have earned a bachelor’s degree, according to the Pew study.
All single-parent families face challenges of co-parenting and creating a work-life balance that supports children. While community support is important for all, most are geared toward the needs of single mothers, not fathers.
Why? Old-fashioned socialization. Single fathers may still be seen as “helpers” rather than primary parents. Caregiving and nurturing may be considered feminine rather than positive, gender-neutral activities and qualities. Encouraging a more balanced view of the roles of men and women and advocating for more active, equal support for all parents can help. (While family leave is a right, far fewer fathers use it than mothers, for example.) Teaching children — and perhaps colleagues! — that both boys and girls care for children can help change the future.