Figure 1. This graph shows the increase of single-parent households in the United States.Word Count: 1,525SOCI-004-401Report on Single-ParentingIntroductionA single-parent household can be defined as a one in which a parent with no committedpartner or spouse lives with one or more dependent child. While single-parent families havealways been around, the second half of the twentieth century saw a fast and dramatic growth inthe amount of single-parent families in the United States. On one hand, some sociologists haveused this trend of increasing single-parenthood to suggest that society is experiencing a collapseof ‘the family’ (usually described as a married man and woman living with their biologicalchildren as one household), resulting in extremely negative effects on children and society as awhole (McLanahan 1996). On the other hand, other researchers have argued that while childrenwho grow up in single-parent households are more likely to have negative outcomes, that single-parent families are not the root cause of those problems and should therefore be seen as adifferent type of family rather than deviant (Coontz 1997).Regardless of how different family forms are viewed and their social implications, therehas been a significant change in the prevalence of single-parent families. This report will firstexplore the way single-parenting and attitudes toward single-parents evolved from about 1970 toabout 2015, followed by an examination some of the conceivable reasons for changes in single-parenting such as increasing cohabitation and divorce. Certainly, it may be possible that anincrease in cohabiting couples and divorcing couples may have contributed to the increasingrates of single-parents since they facilitate the decrease of two-parent households.Single Parenting in AmericaAccording to the United States Census Bureau, only about 12 percent of familyhouseholds—households with at least one parent—included children under the age of eighteenlivingwithonlyasingleparentin1
197519801985199019952000200520100246810121416Single-Parent HouseholdsYearPercent of Households1970. By 2010 however, thatpercentage had more than doubled to about 28 percent, indicating a drastic increase in single-parent families in the past couple of decades (Census Bureau).Gendered Single Parenting196019701980199020002010202005101520253035Children Under 18 Living with Only One ParentTotalMother OnlyFather OnlyYearPercent of ChildrenWhile the overall percentageof single-parent families has increased (see Figure 1), the most common type of single-parenthousehold has historically been those headed by single mothers. In 1970, single-mother familiesrepresented up about 90percent of the total number ofsingle-parent households in the United States. Although single-mother families make up the2Figure 2.