One in four children in the United States is now being raised by a single parent, according to The Associated Press. The percentage is on the rise and is higher than developing countries.
“Of the 27 industrialized countries studied by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the U.S. had 25.8 percent of children being raised by a single parent, compared with an average of 14.9 percent across the other countries.”
“Ireland was second (24.3 percent), followed by New Zealand (23.7 percent). Greece, Spain, Italy and Luxemborg had among the lowest percentages of children in single-parent homes.”
“Experts point to a variety of factors to explain the high U.S. figure, including a cultural shift toward greater acceptance of single-parent child rearing. The U.S. also lacks policies to help support families, including childcare at work and national paid maternity leave, which are commonplace in other countries.”
“When our parents married, there was a sense that you were marrying for life,” said Edward Zigler, founder and director of Yale’s Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy. “That sense is not as prevalent.”…
The single parent phenomenon has been occurring over recent decades. The study noted the U.S. and England have higher teenage birthrates than other countries, partially contributing to the higher single-parent numbers, though the proportion of children born outside marriage was not significantly higher than the other countries.
Christina Gibson Davis, a professor at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy, said changing gender roles, the rise of contraception, high incarceration rates in some communities and an acceptance of having children out of wedlock have all contributed to the growing number.
“Single parents in the U.S. were more likely to be employed — 35.8 percent compared to a 21.3 percent average — but they also had higher rates of poverty, the report found.”
“The in-work poverty is higher in the U.S. than other OECD countries, because at the bottom end of the labor market, earnings are very low,” said Willem Adema, a senior economist in the group’s social policy division. “For parents, the risk is higher because they have to make expenditures on childcare costs.” …
“Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, added it isn’t being a single parent in itself that raises difficulties.”
” ‘Single moms do a brilliant and amazing job raising their children,’ said Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women. ‘It is also true that single moms in this country are systemically underpaid, and systematically under-resourced and systemically unrespected. It’s not the fact they are single moms that makes things difficult.’ ”
I actually don’t find the statistic to be surprising but I do think it’s sad for both the parents and the kids. I can’t even imagine being a single parent. I think it would be so hard to manage everything – work, taking care of the kids, taking care of house, cooking, shopping, errands, sports. It’s completely overwhelming, and I can’t imagine how they do it.
I recently met a single dad who has found a surprising support system. Here’s the gist of his story:
He got married and had two kids with a woman, let’s call her Pam. (I actually don’t know her real name.) They divorced and she soon remarried and had more kids. Well a few years later she divorced again. The kids all became close and felt like siblings and the two former husbands liked each other and wanted the kids to be together so the two former husbands MOVED IN TOGETHER!
So now the two former husbands are essentially a family raising the kids together. They support each other and help each other with pick up, chores, homework. He said they have spend-the-night parties for the kids and coach little league for them. They also pool their resources on expenses.
The ex-wife is livid and says they gang up on her. I just love how these two single dads found support for each other.
So lots of questions here:
Does 1 in 4 raised by single parent surprise you? Does it surprise you it’s more than developing nations?
Which factors do you think are the main cause for this phenomenon? How can American reverse the trend?
How can you help couples marry for life?
Do you really think more support when kids are born would make a difference?
Would you encourage more birth control for teens to prevent out of wedlock babies?
What are the best ways for single parents to cope when they are alone raising a child?
– Theresa Walsh Giarrusso, ajc.com Momania. I have increased my Twitter activity. I am sending out great stories for moms each day focusing on health, fitness, sex, entertainment, food, travel and obviously parenting! So follow me on Twitter at @AJCMOMania!)