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A mother or father living without a partner with their dependent child or children.
Above definition not straightforward
What about a father who doesn't live with the mother and child but is in regular
contact, takes part in `family' decisions and provides for the family in various ways
is he still a member of the family?
A number of separated and divorced couples attempt to share the responsibility for raising
their children. This is knows as co-parenting or joint parenting. It is difficult to see such
arrangements as simply lone-parent families.
Some sociologists argue that the term lone-parent household is more precise. It simply
states that the `absent parent' is not part of the household.
Types of Lone Parents
Various routes into parenthood:
The ending of a marriage either by separation or divorce
The ending of cohabitation where the parents separate
Birth to a never-married, non-cohabiting woman
Death of a partner
Most lone-parent families have one thing in common; women head them over 90% in 2006.
Trends in Lone-Parenthood
Steadily increased from 7% in 1972 to 24% in 2005
During the 1960s, divorce overtook death as the main source of lone-parent families.
From then until the mid-1980s, a large part of the increase was due to marital breakup.
After 1986, the number of single lone mothers grew at a faster rate.
This group is made up of 1) never married cohabiting women whose partnership
ended after their child was born 2) never married women who were not cohabiting
when their child was born.
Explaining the Trends
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The divorce rate rose rapidly after the Divorce Reform Act came into force in 1971.
Sociologists argue that social expectations about marriage have changed.
Functionalist sociologists even argue that high divorce rates are evidence that marriage is
increasingly valued and that people are demanding higher standards from their parents.
Couples are no longer prepared to put up with unhappy, `empty-shell' marriages.
People want emotional and sexual compatibility and equality, as well as
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There is some evidence that government New Deals schemes are helping some lone parents
and their children out of poverty.
Views of Lone Parenthood
New Right Views
Lone-parent families fail to provide adequate socialisation.
In lone-mother families, there is no father present to discipline the children and provide a
male role model. This can lead to underachievement at school, and anti-social behaviour
ranging from rudeness to crime. Boys grow up with little awareness of the traditional
responsibilities and duties of a father.…read more