Anyone who has been a single parent can understand the challenges to keep-up with financial commitments, spend quality time with his/her children and maintain the household.

Single parenting is a difficult experience that many of us couldn’t avoid. If you are considering divorce, you probably have a lot of concerns.  The biggest one may be, "How the heck am I going to do everything, every day for everyone?"

And the answer is:  You won't. 

The house may not always be picked-up, the kids may not always have your undivided attention and you will usually feel completely and utterly exhausted by the end of the day.  It’s not easy, but with love and dedication you'll make it work like millions of parents across America.  You are not alone!

Despite the majority of children living in two parent households, there are 11 million single parent families. The figure was established according to a report published by The U.S. Census Bureau, The Majority of Children Live with Two Parents, November 17, 2016.  

Census Bureau Facts

How many children are in the United States being raised by parents or grandparents?

There are a total of 73.7 million children in the United States in households with parents and grandparents.  

What are the living arrangements of these children? 

50.7 million children live with two parents, 17.2 million live with the mother only, 3 million with the father only and remaining 2.8 million live with no parent present (usually grandparents). 

Are two parent families declining?

Yes.  According to the report between 1950 and 2016, the percentage of two parent families decreased.  In 1950, there were 93% of two parent families.  The numbers continued to slip over the years; in 1960 there were 88% compared to only 69% of dual parent families in 2016.  

What do the statistics tell us?

While the majority of children still live with both parents, if the percentages continue to trend at the same rate as the last 69 years, by the end of this century the percentages could be flipped where the majority of one parent and no parent families could be closer to 93% (the percentage that formerly represented two parent families in the 1950's).

Despite the rise in single parent households & a divorce rate almost twice the percentage since the 1950's, divorce has actually declined since the 1980's and has since continued at a steady rate of 40-50%.  This indicates many single parents never married and that unless a support agreement was established, many children only have one parent or grandparent(s) to provide support. 

It would further indicate that while the percentage of divorce (40-50%) may not be increasing because of generational changes in the decision to not marry, these changes also affect the increasing percentage of nonnuclear families.

It is especially concerning in regard to the parental support and time each child is with either parent.  Without a legal custodial or visitation agreement, which is less likely when not included in a Divorce Settlement between both parents, one parent has a higher likelihood of the singular burden of care and financial responsibilities for the child(ren).  This may result in added family hardships and stressors that may be responsible for poor statistics involving single-parent households.

How has single parenting arrangements been recognized nationally?

As a result of the statistics that clearly show the magnitude of children that live with only one parent, Ronald Reagan established Proclamation 5166, National Single Parent Day as March 21, 1984.  Celebrated every year, it was established to recognize the contributions single parents make under the continued demands and challenges dissimilar to the elementary family (family consisting of two parents living with their children). 

What can we do to improve the quality of life as single parents?

While we recognize our family structure is continuing to change, we shouldn't wholly identify ourselves by our family living arrangements.  We should strive to improve our lives and the lives of our children regardless of our familial circumstances. 

Statistics may assist us in knowing that times are changing.  We can use such data to understand the overall perceptions of our society regarding relationships, parenting, lifestyle and responsibilities.  It can provide us the opportunity to protect ourselves and our children from continuing the trends as currently represented in the statistics of single parent families and families affected by divorce.

Single parenting is more difficult than parenting in two parent families.  The choice to become a single parent is likely as a result of circumstances that presented such an arrangement as the best course of action for the parent and children.  It may not always be ideal.  It may not be forever.  And you can break free of the statistical stigma by not allowing it to limit your possibilities or restrict your opportunities for success.

Instead of considering yourself as a single parent, know that you are a wonderful parent.  You seek to continue to improve your life and your circumstances while demonstrating the best parenting possible for your children.  You won't be perfect, just like parents in two parent families.   Life will not always be easy.  But, with the love for your children and continued quest for opportunity and personal happiness, you will contribute to your own individual success, your children's success and positive outcomes towards future statistics.


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