A single parent is a parent that parents alone without the other parent’s support, meaning this particular parent is the only parent to the child, responsible for all financial, material, and emotional needs. It means there is an absence of the other parent as opposed to a co-parent, meaning that the parent is not the only parent regardless of whether or not they are a couple. Of course, this definition is loosely true. There is no true definition of what “single parent” means and is more based on opinions. Sometimes, one finds themselves in a single-parent family structure that has arisen due to death of the partner, intentional artificial insemination, or unplanned pregnancy.
Historically, the death of a partner was a major cause of single parenting. Single parenting can also result from the breakup or divorce of coupled parents who leave and choose to not co-parent, thus leaving one parent to raise and support the child on their own. Most people confuse single parenting with co-parenting. It is not to be confused that if you co-parent, both parents are playing a role of supporting and raising the child. Co-parenting is not single parenting. Recent years have seen the increasing incidence and visibility of uncoupled women who choose to be single parents. When single women seek to get pregnant intentionally in order to become single mothers by choice (or “choice moms”), they often seek an anonymous or known sperm donor. Single-parent adoption or fostering is also sometimes an option for single adults who want to raise a family.
The demographics of single parenting show a general increase worldwide in children living in single parent homes. Single parenting has become a norm in the United States and is a trend found in many other countries. The morality and advisability of single motherhood has long been debated in the US. Single American mothers live in poverty 5 times more often than married parents. (National Women’s Law Center, Poverty & Income Among Women & Families, 2000-2013) The topic is less contentious in Western European countries where all families enjoy more robust state-sponsored social benefits.