Census shows single-father homes on the rise

The Associated Press
Friday May 18, 2001

WASHINGTON — More fathers are going solo in raising kids. 

It’s a change that single fathers say shows greater acceptance by American families and courts that sometimes the best place for children is with Dad. 

The 2000 census found: 

• In 2.2 million households, fathers raise their children without a mother. That’s about one household in 45. 

• The number of single-father households rose 62 percent in 10 years. 

• The portion of the country’s total 105.5 million households that were headed by single fathers with children living there doubled in a decade, to 2 percent. 

Single fathers say the numbers help tear down a long-standing conception that single fathers tend to abandon their kids, or at least not take as good care of them as single moms, said Vince Regan, an Internet consultant from Grand Rapids, Mich., who is raising five kids on his own. 

“In time, it goes a long way to helping society think that single fathers do help their kids and want to be part of their lives,” he said. 

Thomas Coleman, executive director of the American Association for Single People, attributed the rise in single dads to a variety of reasons, including more judges awarding custody to fathers in divorce cases and more women choosing their jobs over family life. 

The percentage increase in single-father households far outpaced other living arrangements. The “Ozzie and Harriett” household, where both parents raise the children like on the old TV show, increased by 6 percent, and single-mother homes were up by 25 percent. Father-headed households are still only a small percentage. Married couples with children make up 24 percent of all households – whether family or non-family. They were 39 percent of all homes in 1970. Single-mother homes made up 7 percent of all households in 2000, up from 5 percent over 30 years ago. 

Looked at another way, single father homes made up 3 percent of the country’s 71 million family households in 2000. Family households are those in which one or more people are related to the householder. 

Single fathers “need help just as much as single mothers,” said Darryl Pure, a psychologist from Chicago who has had sole custody of his three children for four years, but they have a harder time asking. 

“There’s often a fear among single fathers that if the mother steps in, she’ll regain custody, so single, custodial fathers don’t go after child support as much as single mothers do, and I know a lot of fathers that are really impoverished,” Pure said. 

The Census Bureau counts single fathers in a category that could allow other adults, such as the child’s grandparents, to be present, but bureau analysts said research shows that most of the men in the category are raising a child alone. 

The bureau released basic figures for 21 states and the District of Columbia this week on topics ranging from age to home ownership. Other states are scheduled to be released later this month. 

According to 2000 census data being released Friday, some of the biggest increase in single-father households occurred in southern and western states: up 126 percent in Nevada, and 74 percent in Delaware. 

On the Net: 

Census Bureau: http://www.census.gov/ 

Responsible Single Fathers: http://www.singlefather.org/ 

Family Research Council: http://www.frc.org/