single father

Victor aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Sat Dec 20 18:27:05 UTC 2008

It's possible that my sense of single parenthood is messed up and I am
just digging myself deeper in by raising the issue. Unfortunately, I
don't appear to be alone in this. From the review of recent news
reports, about the same number of references to "single father" identify
the mother as missing or nonexistent ("not in the children's lives") as
fail to refer to the mother at all. From the first 50, I found only one
case where a "single father" was identified as living with his
girlfriend (or any other spouse-like entity). Although this particular
father had a 6 month old and a two year old child, no mention was made
in the article whether the "girlfriend" was the mother.

Below are several examples of the first kind (no mother). The "Pursuit
of Happiness" reference is an exception, as there is no reference to the
mother, but it's another "wife left" story.

[Ricky] Martin is now showing the world pictures of his newborn (this
summer) twin sons (via People magazine), who were born to a woman whose
name is unknown. Reportedly, not a paramour of Martin's, but instead, a
mother who birthed the babies and is no longer playing an active role in
their lives.

Carl, age 40, is a single father who lives in a small apartment with his
four children. One night last November, while the family was sleeping,
Carl's wife left. Her note said she'd met someone else. They haven't
heard from her since.

Siringi, who became a naturalized U.S. citizen in August, is a single
father responsible for two children and a brother, said his lawyer,
Bruce Hoffer. His mother is due to arrive from Kenya on Friday.

Duniphan said she still is surprised her son-in-law, Army Pfc. Benjamin
Silva did not attend the hearing Thursday. Silva, now a single father of
two young daughters, was deployed in Iraq at the time of his wife's slaying.

The movie re-teams Smith with Gabriele Muccino, the director who helped
make "The Pursuit of Happyness" such a wonderful surprise via Smith's
portrait of a single father who'll do anything for his son.

As a single father, Stone Fisher knows the challenges of providing for a
family. ...
Fisher says he feels fortunate that he has had so much help from his
parents, sister and cousin in raising his boys, Jacob, 13, and Gabriel,
9, both of whom live with him.
Single parents, for the purpose of this report, include people who may
be married but not living with their spouse, as well as other divorced,
widowed, or never-married people.

Elsewhere, the Census identifies a "custodial parent" as one entitled to
child support (aside from the less common instances when the economic
balance of the parents precludes child support).

The reason most often cited for not having a legal child support
agreement by the 6.6 million custodial parents without them was that
they did not feel the need to go to court and make it legal (32 percent).

Number of single fathers in 2000, up from 393,000 in 1970. There was
roughly one single father for every five single mothers in 2000,
compared with about one for every nine in 1970.
Among these fathers ... 45 percent were divorced; 34 percent had never
married; 17 percent were married with an absent spouse; and 4 percent
were widowed.

Overall, on the surface, the US Census is neutral as to the status of
the other parent. But, from the context, it is clear that the parents
with whom the children live are the "single parents". It is not clear
how the Census would handle those couples that divide parenting time
exactly equally, but from what I've seen so far, the terms "singe" and
"custodial" are often interchangeable in Census reports. In all other
cases, only one parent can legally be the custodial parent,
irrespectively of how they arrange the parenting time (that is, it is
possible for a parent to have primary custody of children who spent less
than half the time at that parent's home; the IRS would consider this
situation different, but the Census does not).

So children may spend 70% of the time at the father's home and the
Census would still not count him as a single father if he does not have
primary custody. The class is between administrative, legal and
socially-constructed definitions. My original query concerned the
apparent increase in separation between the latter, which is maleable,
and the other two, which are fairly close to being set in stone (in the
past, the usage would have been fairly similar across all three). Your
statements only strengthens this perception. (The Census would count
neither you nor your former husband as single parents, because the
custodial parent is not unmarried.)

Please note that I am not attaching any affect or moral judgment to the
term. I am strictly looking at the context of its usage. It is possible
that, if the social use of the term is changing, the administrative
definition will have to evolve as well.


Andrea Morrow wrote:
> My ex-husband (with whom I have joint physical and legal custody of our
> 12-year-old son) would be shocked to hear that you wouldn't consider him a
> "single father." We split parenting time equally, and he does pay child
> support due to the disparity in our incomes. He calls him self a "single
> dad" or "single father", and no one here in Michigan seems to find that
> odd. (I'm remarried, so I'm not a single mom!)
> Andrea

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