What is a Single Parent?

A single parent is a parent, not living with a spouse or partner, who has most of the day-to-day responsibilities in raising the child or children. A single parent is usually considered the primary caregiver, meaning the parent the children have residency with the majority of the time. If the parents are separated or divorced, children live with their custodial parent and have visitation or secondary residence with their noncustodial parent. In western society in general, following separation, a child will end up with the primary caregiver, usually the mother, and a secondary caregiver, usually the father.

Historically, death of a partner was a major cause of single parenting. Single parenting can result from separation, death or divorce of a couple with children. Custody battles, awarded by the court or rationalized in other terms, determine who the child will spend majority of their time with. This affects children in many ways, and counseling is suggested for them. A mother is typically the primary caregiver in a single parent family structure because of divorce or unplanned pregnancy.

Fathers have been the less common primary caregiver in the past, presumably due to the father working most of the day resulting in less bonding with the children, or possibly a young child needing to still nurse, or if childcare was necessary while the father works, the mother would be seen to be better suited while fathers works. This scenario has shifted in recent years, as many fathers are taking an active parental role as a stay-at-home dad as more mothers are in the workforce and being the sole provider to the family, resulting in fathers bonding and connecting more to their children.

Single parent adoption is sometimes an option for adults who want children but do not have a partner; another option could be to foster a child.

The demographics of single parenting show a general increase worldwide in children living in single parent homes.[5] Single parenting has become an accepted norm in the United States and is an accepted trend found in multiple other countries. Debates concerning not only the single parents themselves, but also the children involved, support for the families in single parent households, and more have arisen. Although divorce is one of the main events that leads to single parenting, it may be that the majority of cases in the US are from pregnancy outside of wedlock.


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