Do Single Fathers Get A Fair Deal?

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I always know it’s almost Mother’s Day when the grocery store stocks up on lilies and starts to prominently feature sentimental greeting cards featuring watercolored flowers. Father’s Day? I always forget it. (It’s Sunday, June 19 this year, in case you’re wondering.)

Fathers often get short shrift when compared with mothers; despite our best intentions, we still seem to be operating under the old-fashioned idea that mothers are essential, while fathers are peripheral. But cultural attitudes better start playing catch-up. Dads are playing an increasingly important role in their children’s lives — and in a growing number of families, they are the only parent around. For the first time ever, the number of single-parent households led by men grew more quickly than those led by women in Maryland over the past ten years.

In fact, nearly a quarter of Maryland’s single-parent households are led by men. Experts point to a host of social trends that underlie this increase — for one, many courts used to favor the mother almost unquestioningly; these days, joint-custody arrangements are increasingly popular, and custodial laws favoring mothers are on the wane. For another, increased career options for women mean that in some situations, dads just make more sense as the custodial parent.

Certainly, there’s still a long way to go before single dads aren’t treated as somehow less-than their female equivalents — either by the courts or by the culture at large. But as families change, our attitudes will have to change as well.

Do you think single dads parent just as well as single moms?

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