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Single Dads: Not So Singularly Rare Anymore

Single Dads: Not So Singularly Rare Anymore

While single mothers have been around ever since fathers have been walking out on families, it wasn’t until the early 90s that the television character Murphy Brown rattled some nerves (and morals) by becoming an elective single mother on her titular sitcom. Famously then Republican Vice President Dan Quayle was highly critical of Murphy Brown (again, she was a fictional character) for endeavoring and choosing to be a single mother and “ignoring the importance of fathers by birthing a child alone.” This created a hell of a firestorm and brought forth the discussion of “family values” into the 1992 presidential campaign, ultimately yielding a democratic win by Bill Clinton.

Some 20 years later the incidence of elective single mothering is hardly rare, but still somewhat controversial in some circles. Hard to know what our former VP would think of the new development of single dads by choice.

With reproductive technology being what it is (exceptionally advanced, but still exceptionally expensive) many same-sex couples have proven that you no longer need a man and a woman to raise a child. But as NPR reported earlier this week, many single men are forgoing marriage or any sort of union and walking into single fatherhood with gusto. While many of these single fathers are gay men who have always wanted children but not yet found that life partner, some are also straight men satisfying their lifelong urge to be fathers. The Williams Institute, a think tank on same-sex issues at the University of California, Los Angeles, finds there were more than one million never-married men — both gay and straight — raising children in 2010. This number is three times more than in 1992 when Murphy Brown was deeply upsetting Dan Quayle.

Now as much as single mothers have become more acceptable to most (mind you, not all), contemporary society remains somewhat uncomfortable and/or suspicious of single fathers. Many people contend that raising a child without the influence of a mother and/or two parents puts children at a true developmental disadvantage. While some are confident that children can be raised just as well with the guidance and love of a single father. Is this reverse sexism or just viable concern? Is their something about a single father, whether by design or not, that makes you uncomfortable?

Related:
Single-Parenting: Unfortunate Circumstance or Inspired Engagement?
Defining Who Is a Parent
How I Stopped Hating Fathers

Read more: Babies, Blogs, Caregiving, Children, Family, Love, Men's Health, News & Issues, Parenting at the Crossroads, Relationships, , , ,

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

43 comments

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8:18PM PST on Nov 28, 2013

se puede criar un hijo con un sòlo padre, muchos factores daran diversos resultados en general serà positivo si hay amor.

4:13AM PDT on Oct 6, 2013

Thanks for the article.

7:04PM PDT on Apr 14, 2013

Everyone deserves support

9:43PM PST on Feb 11, 2013

What did Arsenio Hall say, fathermocker?

4:41AM PST on Jan 22, 2013

thanks

4:17PM PDT on Aug 24, 2012

I find it completely okay for a man to truly want to be a father. Sometimes when someone hasn't found "the one" by the age theyd hoped/planned to be a parent, it makes one realize they may miss out on a huge dream. If they are caring and responsible and loving and financially able.. who are we to judge. Be it a man, a woman, a gay couple or and transsexual. I know some amazing single parents (single moms and single dads) and their kids are well adjusted and intelligent. They are wanted and loved, and not all of us can say we were when we were kids.

3:18AM PDT on Jul 13, 2012

Good article...thanks a lot!

5:13AM PDT on Jul 12, 2012

All families deserve our support.

5:17PM PDT on Jun 25, 2012

Children without health care face extra challenges.
Children face ricicule of other children if they have a single parent family.
Parents from 2 parent families feel comfortable undermining single parent authority which leaves children more vulnerable.
Children see their family described in negative, detrimental terms (more undermining)
One parent often leaves because of overwhelming stress of health care issues (and the care does not get easier when only one person is doing it)
The low status of a single parent leaves support personnel less responsive to their needs If single parent = single adult then there is less flexiillity in care, transport, etc
Financial challenges.
If the other parent feels guilty, they may try to "punish" the caretaker parent.

5:00PM PDT on Jun 25, 2012

@Larry W Your figure of 60% seems extraordinary.
The main problem with your comment is that it seems to be leading to the conclusion that single mothers cause a problem. In fact, single mothers face the problems, and we should be helping to define and eliminate things that cause children problems, not demonizing those providing loving care for them.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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