Sociological Analysis

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Single Parent Statistics in the United States

February 14th, 2011 · 4 Comments
Topic statement

Kareem Ali

Throughout history their has always been at one point or another, where a child has been raised by only one parent. In the United States this has been an ongoing, and yet growing epidemic. Without doing a study on this finding, it is safe to say that everyone has come in counter with a child of single parent household at one point or another. From my personal experience, I can say that about 30%-50% of the kids that I grew up with, from middle school and high school,  have either had parents that are either divorced, married but separated, or have never known one of their parents. In many cases, it is the mother who is left to raise the child by herself. Interestingly enough, in the cases of the kids that I grew up with, about 90% of them were raised by their mothers. According a brief study that I found on the U.S. Census Bureau (, approximately 84% of custodial parents are mothers, and 16% of custodial parents are fathers. Based on these statistics alone, it makes me want to dig deeper into this topic and find out why is this happening and what long-term effects does single parent households have on children. This has been a topic that I have really been interested in for quite some time now, mainly because I have seen first hand how it truly affects children.

In class, we discussed failing marriages, and what causes them. In the case of single parent households, I believe that failing marriages or relationships, is due to a lack of a “real” love between both parties. Many people get involved for the wrong reasons, seeking intimacy, financial stability, or just plain infatuation. Instead of taking the time to get to know one another for who they “really” are, they rush into a relationship or commitment blind folded. The subsequent effects of having a relationship based on intimacy alone, will often eventually lead to an unplanned pregnancy. In many cases, because the initial mutual love between both parties was never their to begin with, the relationship would come to an end, leaving behind a child that would then be raised by one parent.

In doing this topic, my goal is to find out approximately how many single parent households there are in the United States. I want to know, what are the causes for single parent households, and what effects does it leave on the children.

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4 responses so far ↓

  • 1    Prof. Hala // Feb 20, 2011 at 11:35 am

    Excellent topic statement. And good on you for taking the initiative to locate some reliable recent data. You can approach this issue from many directions and undertake different types of studies (i.e., exploratory, descriptive, explanatory, and evaluation). The goal of quantifying single parent households in the US (mentioned at the end) would involve a “descriptive” study. You can also look into how the numbers have changed over time (rising, in absolute and proportional terms, as far as I know), and how they compare to other countries. The 2011 Statistical Abstract from the US Census Bureau has such cross-national comparative data (Scroll down to Populations, Households – Single Parent Households:
    A descriptive study can also look at the national data, but disaggregated, by income, race, ethnicity, SES, or other variables, so you can see how these other variables are associated with single parent households.

    If you want to investigate the “causes” or risk factors/predictive factors for single parent households, you might consider looking at historical data, to see whether there are noticeable spikes or drops over time, which might correlate with certain events or conditions that can explain the increases/decreases.

    If you want to focus on effects, you can do various types of studies as well, including an evaluation study, which would examine the effectiveness of a policy or program focused on single parent households. The policy/program might be designed to reduce the number of single parent households (to support two-parent households) or it may be targeted at children from single-parent households, designed to “protect” them from known negative (social, psychological, educational, etc) consequences of being raised by one parent alone.

    The Population Reference Bureau ( seems to have a lot of relevant data/research. Here’s a link to a recent study on US Children in Single Mother Families (click on page for PDF):

    And here’s a recent online Q&A:

  • 2    Kayla Bosie // Mar 19, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    Personally, I live in a single parent home, where my mother raises my twelve year old brother and I. I am now sixteen. It is really hard to raise basically two teenagers. My mother is a single parent now because she finally decided that she was not going to get beaten by my father anymore. Our family of three has struggled so much over the last nine months, for several reasons. My mother and I both have a mental disease; called Bi-polar Depression. It affects our everyday life, and it makes it hard for her to go to work, and for me to even focus on school work. Financially we were a wreak for a long time, but because we are so close with our family and friends, they helped us a lot, and understood what my mother was going through. Living in a single parent household to me, personally, is rewarding. My father never wanted me, and knowing that, I strive everyday to make myself a better person and to achieve great things. I have also come much more independent living with only my mother, and can do a lot of stuff on my own. Knowing that my father isn’t here anymore to hit my mother is a relief, and we are 100 times better. I believe that single parenting, no matter how hard it may be, is a reward, because motherhood is like a two-sided coin. One side is stressful, and the other is joyful and full of bliss.

  • 3    Ariana Diaz // Oct 23, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    I was raised in a single parent household. a family of three, a mom and two little girls. I was one of those little girls life was easy but only from a child’s point of view. Looking back now I know it was hard and difficult. My father abandoned me, my sister had another father who at the time was in jail. I remember my mom staying up late and would budget with the money. I knew we weren’t poor but we weren’t rich either. we had enough, we got by. It was hard on me as being the oldest I had to fulfill the spot as the man of the house, I was responsible I knew my sister was mine I had to look out for her, while mommy worked. I also understood, if i didn’t stand up for myself and my sister no one else would which helped in the long run. I remember living in a 2 bedroom apartment, it was nice had what we needed. I remember mom’s boyfriends some nice some hated me and my sis, but I made sure that my sister was taken care of and protected from harm. but once i didn’t protect her and well the situation made me realize in the world you can’t be yourself you need to be strong, put on a poker face and build walls so your not hurt. I remember my mom leaving me and my sister with stranger, a new babysitter, but it wasn’t because she was a bad mom but she was trying to attend and finish college. life was hard to her as it was for me and my sister, but life does go on. at the age 8 my mom remarried to a man she had only knew for 3 months, their still married, had 2 more kids. I’m still my mom’s right hand, not the man because we have one but her other confident. LIFE WAS HARD, BUT BELIEVE ME YOU HAVE TO TRY AND WORK WITH LIFE SO IT CAN GET EASIER. LIFE DOES GO ON. TRY, DON’T GIVE UP. WORK OUT YOUR PROBLEMS THERE’S ALWAYS ANOTHER WAY,A BETTER WAY. IF IT IS WORSE IT WILL GET BETTER SOONER OR LATTER.

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