A few friends and I were sitting talking the other day, and the question came up about why there are more single parents in today’s society than ever before. The phenomenon is not new, but it is definitely on the increase. The question is why? Are there more single parents because more spouses are divorcing, is it because of war, or are more people choosing to become single parents out of choice?
According to the United States Census, the figure of children who are dependent on and live with only one parent has risen from 9% in 1960 to 27% in 2010. It is estimated that about 16% of children worldwide live with only one parent.
So, why are there more single parent households in today’s society? According to research this is due to a few factors:
Generation Gap: The younger generation have a very different set of beliefs and moral codes or values than twenty or even ten years ago. It is far more accepted these days for young adults to have sex before getting married and moving in together without getting married. This often results in unplanned parenthood. Even though the couple may either already be living together or may decide to move in together due to the addition to their partnership, it very often ends with one partner leaving, and it is usually the mother who ends up bringing up the child alone.
Unplanned Pregnancies: With youngsters having sex at a far younger age these days it very often ends in an unplanned pregnancy. If the youngsters are teenagers, the father most often disappears and leaves the mother to handle things on her own.
Divorce: Years ago couples used to stick together through thick and thin. They made an effort to fight for the marriage, or they “stayed together for the sake of the children.” These days it far easier and socially acceptable to get a divorce and many parents feel that it is better for the children to live with a happy single parent than with two parents who argue and are unhappy in their situation.
Choice: Some people choose to become single parents for various reasons. Women have become far more independent over the past decade, with the glass ceiling being lifted. This has allowed them to have their own careers and earn decent salaries, allowing them the decision of becoming mothers without necessarily getting married. These days women opt for either adoption or artificial insemination when deciding to start a single parent family.
Death: This is not a reason that is often discussed, but something like a war ends up leaving a lot of single parents, most often single mothers. However, with more and more women joining the army, single fathers are also on the increase. Accidents, disease and crime are also great reasons for single parenthood.
Whatever the reason for the increase in single parents in today’s society, one must ask whether this does not cause an undue strain on state and government resources. Public opinion on single parenthood varies and differs from generation to political conservatism, to ethnic groupings and religious beliefs.