Single Father Households are on the Rise

Single father households are becoming more and more common in the United States. Single Father households have risen from a little over 1% in 1960, to a record 8%  according to a report from the Pew Research Center.  That is about a nine-fold increase in the number of single father households in a little over 50 years.

Single father headed households have gone from less than 300,000 to more than 2.6 million in 2011.  While single mother lead households have increased from 1.9 million in 1960 to 8.6 million in 2011; that rate of increase is only four-fold during that period.  What this means is that single father households make up a larger (and growing) share of all single parent households in the United States.  Single parent households headed by fathers have gone from 14% in 1960, to 24%.  That’s almost a quarter of all single parent households.

How Single Father Lead Households are Different

According to this Report there are some notable statistical differences between single mother homes and single father homes.  For instance 41% of single fathers are living with a partner.  While only 16% of single mothers are cohabitating.  On average single fathers tend to have higher incomes than single mothers.  This translates to 24% of single father households living at or below the poverty line versus 43% of households lead by single mothers.

What is a Single Father?

The definition of a single father household can vary depending on who is doing the defining.  In this report, a single father is a male who is 15 years of age or older, who is the head of their household.  They are also living with their own children (under the age of 18).  The term ‘their own children’ can mean biological children, step-children or adopted children.

Fathers who are living in a household headed by someone else (for example, a young single father living with his parents) are excluded from the analysis.  Also excluded are single fathers whose children are not living with them.

The term ‘single father’ includes men in a variety of family circumstances. About half (52%) are separated, divorced, widowed, or never married and are living without a cohabiting partner.  As stated above, 41% are living with a non-marital partner.  And a small percentage (7%) are married but living apart from their spouse.

It’s interesting to note that, statistically speaking, cohabiting single fathers are particularly disadvantaged on most socio-economic indicators. They are younger, less educated and more likely to be living in poverty than are single fathers who are raising children without a spouse or partner in the household.

Why the Increase in Single Father Households?

The increase in single father households is likely due to a number of factors, most of which have also contributed to the increase in single mother households, and to the decline of two-married-parent households.

For one, non-marital births has increased significantly.  And even though divorce rates have leveled off in recent decades, they remain higher than they were in the 1960s and 1970s.  Some experts suggest that changes in the legal system have led to more opportunities for fathers to gain custody of their children in the event of a breakup, as well.

Also, the role of fathers has evolved over the years.  The public now acknowledges the importance of fathers not only as breadwinners, but also as caregivers. Some data shows that fathers are narrowing the (still sizable) gap with mothers, in the amount of time they spend with their children. And Pew Research surveys find that the public believes that a father’s greatest role is to provide values to his children, followed by emotional support, discipline and income support. Public opinion ascribes roughly the same hierarchy of roles to mothers.

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Are You a Single Parent Struggling to Find Affordable Housing?

Single parents may struggle to secure adequate housing for various reasons, such as limited income or bad credit. But no matter what the reason, single parents still need safe, affordable housing for their families. So where can you go to get assistance?  Finding affordable housing as a single parent is not easy; but it’s not impossible. Whether you’re a homeowner in financial crisis, or a single parent looking for low income rental housing, there are programs out there that may be able to help you. So let’s take a look at some of the programs that are available to help secure housing for single mothers and single fathers out there.

Your Affordable Housing Search should Start Here

A good place to start your housing search is your local Housing and Urban Development office. You can find out about HUD programs for financially disadvantaged families, and single parents like yourself. While it can take a while to secure safe, affordable housing through these programs, you still want to get on the list even as you’re looking at other options.

Here is a link to local HUD listings by state.

Other Programs

Below are some other programs that HUD offers. These programs may be able to help single moms and dads with their housing problems.

  1. Housing Choice Voucher Program

    This program assists very low-income families, such as single parent families so they can afford safe and adequate housing in the private market. Since housing assistance is provided on behalf of the family, single parents are free to find their own housing, including single-family homes, townhouses and apartments so long that they meet the programs requirements. The Program determines an amount and pays the Landlord directly, and the family pays the difference.

    The Housing Choice Voucher Program is run through local Public Housing Agencies(PHAs). The PHAs receive funds from HUD and the PHA’s administer the voucher program.

    Find Your Local Public Housing Agency.

  2. The Home Program

    The Home Program is designed to create affordable housing for single mothers, single fathers, and low-income households in general. Each year it allocates about 2 billion dollars among the States and local agencies. The program was designed to help those in need through things like loan guarantees, direct loans, grants, rental assistance, security deposit assistance, and credit enhancement. Eligibility for the Home Program varies depending on the type of assistance you need. To find out if you are eligible, you need to contact a participating agency in your area.

    You can find the information you need by following the Home Program Contact link.

Don’t Give up Looking for Safe Affordable Housing

It can be very discouraging, at times, trying to secure affordable housing for your family as a single parent. But remember, there are many different programs out there with many different types of eligibility requirements. If you stay positive and continue searching for assistance, your chances of finding safe affordable housing for your family are greatly increased.

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Self-esteem plays a key part in a single mother’s happiness, but makes little difference to the life satisfaction of single fathers, new research shows.

Research by an academic at Western Australia’s Edith Cowan University, Bronwyn Harman, into the life satisfaction of different family formations, showed that single parents believed they were still viewed negatively by society, even though they accounted for 17 per cent of families in Australia.

Dr Harman interviewed scores of single parents, and then rated their life satisfaction based on their resilience, self-esteem and social support. She found that while all three factors contributed to the happiness of single mothers, self-esteem ”had no impact” on the life satisfaction of single fathers.

”Single mothers can have lots of social support, but unless they have that internal self-belief, they don’t believe what they’re being told,” Dr Harman said.

”With dads, they just believe what they’re told – ‘you’re doing a good job’.” Dr Harman found little difference in the ”relatively low level” of life satisfaction among both single fathers and single mothers. ”When you combine the negative stereotypes with the day-to-day struggle of being a single parent, it would generally not be a very happy place to be,” she said.

All single parents said they were stigmatized by society. ”Single mothers said partnered mothers were threatened by them, viewing them as potential husband stealers,” Dr Harman said.

”Single fathers said society viewed them as a ‘failure’, ‘with suspicion’, and ‘rejected’. There is an incorrect but pervasive view that only mothers know how to parent.”

Single dads told of spending tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees for access to their child, being regularly excluded from special occasions involving their child, and being cut out of the communication loop by their child’s school.

Single mothers reported finding daily life a struggle, with no one to share the burden of illness and tiredness, or their parenting successes.

Dr Harman said a lack of social support for single parents contributed to their low levels of life satisfaction.

”Being a parent with a partner is hard enough,” she said. ”You can’t imagine what it would be like juggling and struggling all by yourself with no one to fall back on.” Justine Proctor became a single mother five years ago when her husband – from whom she was separated – died.

”There are not a lot of good things about being a single parent,” she said.

Now her son, Luke Harford, is on the cusp of adolescence, Ms Proctor feels keenly the lack of a partner. ”My son is just at the age where he does need a father figure around, a good male role model,” she said.

Ms Proctor said her ”saving grace” was the Single with Children support group.

She said the best thing about her family set-up was her bond with Luke. ”I’m hoping the bond is going to last through the teenage years,” she said.