Single Parents

Single parents (also lone parent, solo parent and sole parent) are parents who care for one or more children without the physical assistance of another parent in the home. Possible causes are: divorce, adoption, artificial insemination, surrogate motherhood, or the result of an unforeseeable occurrence, such as a death, child abuse, child neglect, or abandonment by biological parents.

The living and parenting arrangements for sole parents are diverse. When parents separate, usually the primary parent tends to the children the majority of the time and the non-resident parents continue to share some type of parenting time and responsibility with their child.

Some single parents facts:

  • In the UK over 90% of the time the mother is the primary parent.
  • In the UK and U.S.A it is widely practiced to have both parents' involvement, encourage each parent to respect the other parents in the children's presence and financial help through child support for the parent that carries the most responsibility when parents separate. Any benefits, tax credits and related government-sponsored assistance are given 100% to the primary carer, if the secondary parent does not have the ability to financially care for their child.
  • In 2006, 12.9 million families in the U.S. were headed by a single-parent, 80% of which were headed by a female.
  • In 2003, 14% of all Australian households were single-parent families. Since 2001, 31% of babies born in Australia were born to unmarried mothers.
  • In the United Kingdom, there are 1.9 million sole parents as of 2009, with 3 million children.
  • About 1 out of 4 families with dependent children are single-parent families, 8 to 11 percent of which have a male single-parent. UK poverty figures show that 52% of sole parent families are below the Government-defined poverty line. single parents families are at a higher risk of poverty than couple families, and on average single mothers have poorer health than couple mothers

Risks for single parents

Sole parenting is strongly associated with an increased risk of a number of negative social, behavioral and emotional outcomes for children. However, most children from sole parent families do well.

Many factors influence how children develop in single-parent families:

  • the parent's age
  • education level
  • occupation
  • the family's income
  • and the family's support network of friends and extended family members (including the non-resident parent, if available).

Disadvantages in these factors that often accompany sole parenting appear to cause most of this association rather than sole parenting itself.

Sole parent support

A common way for sole parents to seek and receive help is over the Internet by conversing with other sole parents in similar situations.

There are various websites available, for support, information, and sharing the sole parenting experience through offering discussion forums, blogs and professional advice to those parents who find themselves having a difficult time parenting alone. Many sole parent communities offer chat boards through each stage of child development.

Public debate

single parents have often been the focus of public policy debate. What is the role of the government in their support? What is the consequence of the decline of the traditional family? Poverty is the major issue facing single mothers and their children in the United States today. The policy debate tends to split along the lines of the conservatives emphasizing a minimal role for government and an employment focus, and liberals who tend to support more government involvement in an attempt to minimize poverty through social programs.

Finally, if you want to read much more about single parents, visit Single Parents - Family Life.

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