Single-Father Homes on the Rise

ByGenaro C. Armas

W A S H I N G T O N, May 18, 2001 -- More fathers are going solo in raising kids.

It's a change that single fathers say shows greater acceptanceby American families and courts that sometimes the best place forchildren is with Dad.

The 2000 census found:

In 2.2 million households, fathers raise their children withouta mother. That's about one household in 45.

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

The portion of households headed by fathers with childrenliving there doubled in a decade, to 2 percent.

Single fathers say the numbers help tear down a long-standingconception that single fathers tend to abandon their kids, or atleast not take as good care of them as single moms, said VinceRegan, an Internet consultant from Grand Rapids, Mich., who israising five kids on his own.

"In time, it goes a long way to helping society think thatsingle fathers do help their kids and want to be part of theirlives," he said.

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

The percentage increase in single-father households far outpacedother 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 25percent.

Single Dads Need Help, Too

Father-headed households are still only a small percentage.Married couples with children make up 24 percent of all households.They were 39 percent of all homes in 1970. Single-mother homes madeup 7 percent of households in 2000, up from 5 percent over 30 yearsago.

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

"There's often a fear among single fathers that if the mothersteps in, she'll regain custody, so single, custodial fathers don'tgo after child support as much as single mothers do, and I know alot of fathers that are really impoverished," Pure said.

The Census Bureau counts single fathers in a category that couldallow other adults, such as the child's grandparents, to bepresent, but bureau analysts said research shows that most of themen in the category are raising a child alone.

The bureau released basic figures for 21 states and the Districtof 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 thebiggest increase in single-father households occurred in southernand western states: up 126 percent in Nevada, and 74 percent inDelaware.

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