More and More Dads Making Their Mark at Home, Especially Single Ones

dad and daughterA lot has changed since the 1960’s. Dads are no exception, and according to a recent survey of American families, they’ve changed in more ways than one.

Despite the fact that more and more moms are heading off to work, serving as the primary bread winners, moms are still spending more time, on average, with their children than dads. But dads are showing a lot more initiative on the home front, spending nearly three times as much time with their children, on average, than they did 50 years ago – nearly three times as much, in fact. Whereas dads only used to spend about 2.5 hours per week with their children in 1965, they spent an average of 7.3 hours per week with their children in 2011.

There are also more single dads today than there were 50 years ago. Still far outnumbering single dads, single mothers account for about 8.6 million households in the United States, but single dad households have increased from less than 300,000 to 2.6 million households in the U.S. This nine-fold increase means that single dads now account for about a quarter of all single-parent households in the country.

Interestingly enough, single dads are slightly shifting the “typical” single parent household. Single dads are more likely to be living with a partner than their single mom counterparts (41 percent vs. 16 percent), and they’re more likely to be white. Additionally, single dads are less likely to fall below the poverty line than single moms (about 24 percent of single dads compared to 43 percent of single mothers). Yet, that higher income level doesn’t seem to be fully justified since, on average, single dads also seem to be somewhat less educated than single moms.

But, like single moms, single dads are still worse off financially than married fathers. The median income for a married father of three is about $70,000 per year, while a household led by a single ad of three is about $40,000. Single moms still come in the lowest, on average, however, at just a median income of $26,000 for three children.

So what’s with the drastic shift over the last 50 years? Well, there’s a lot of answers to that very loaded question. Obviously, there are more and more moms out there, working, so that gives fathers more of an opportunity to bond with their children. This is just one of possibly many reasons that fathers may be spending more time with their children.

As far as the rise in single dads, Pew cited that there has been an increase in both divorce and the birth of babies to unwed couples. And, since there is more need for custodial determination, the law changes over the last several years that have made it more possible for fathers to gain and maintain custody, were considered a factor by the researchers. Additionally, the survey included fathers who are widowed, which may have also impacted the single father rates, especially if you consider the fact that terminal illnesses have also been on the rise over the past few decades.

Whatever the reason, it’s nice seeing more and more dads stepping up to the plate. Whether they’re single dads, stay-at-home dads, or even conventional working dads, it seems that dads are realizing more and more just how much of an influence they can have on the lives of their children. What’s more, it would seem that fathers are enjoying that influence, and using it to make a positive impact in the lives of their children.

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About the author


Kate Givans is a wife and a mother of five—four sons (one with autism) and a daughter. She’s an advocate for breastfeeding, women’s rights, against domestic violence, and equality for all. When not writing—be it creating her next romance novel or here on Growing Your Baby—Kate can be found discussing humanitarian issues, animal rights, eco-awareness, food, parenting, and her favorite books and shows on Twitter or Facebook. Laundry is the bane of her existence, but armed with a cup of coffee, she sometimes she gets it done.

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