Class: FRHD*1020 (Couple and Family Relationships)
Professor: S. Murray
Textbook: “The Family Dynamic – The Canadian Perspective” Fifth Edition
Authors: Margaret Ward and Marc Belanger
Chapter 9: The Lone-Parent Family – The Majority Future?
To look at the place of single parenthood in the family life cycle
To consider variations in single parenthood
To examine the quality of life of single-parent families, including that of the
To explore two special groups of single parents – the very young mother and the
North American society expects adults in the family to come in pairs, of opposite
sex. “Noah’s Ark Syndrome”.
Lone parent families may be considered “broken” or “incomplete.” More than 80% of
lone-parent families had
women as the head of the family. Between 1966-1991, lone-parent families increased
269%, number of
husband-wife families increased 147%. 2006 – 15.9% of families were lone-parent
families, 25.8% of those
with children. One in five children born in the 1960s had lived in a single-parent
home; by age 12 for children
born in the 1970s; age 8 born in the 1980s and by age 5 for those born in the 1990s
which eludes to younger
ages for those in the future. 2006 – 15.9% of Canadian families were lone-parent
families but the actual
proportion of Canadian families who have ever experienced lone parenthood is much
is often temporary.
Increased unmarried mothers (fewer teen moms are married or put child up for
adoption). 1931 – less
than half of 1% of lone-parent families were the result of births to unmarried
women, in contrast to 22% in
Society focuses on individualism and self-gratification, not on responsibility.
Children are separate from
marriage. Divorce rates have increased dramatically, support for parents and family
benefits exist, cohabitation
has increased; non-marital sex is increasingly accepted.
Most of the figures on lone parenthood are based on numbers for the total
population in Canada or on
studies of the white majority. 2001 Census – higher proportion of black children
aged 1-14 lived with one
parent (46%) than Canadian children in general (18%). 35% of Aboriginal children
lived in single-parent homes
compared to 17% of all children according to Stats Canada 2008.
Table 9.1 – Lone-Parent Families in Canada, 1991-2006
Total Lone-Parent Families
THE PATH OF SINGLE PARENTHOOD
1951 – 66.5% of lone parents were widowed; only 1.5% never legally married
2006 – 29.5% of lone parents divorced, 3.1% in 1951. Divorce laws changed in 1981
and 1986, now easier and
Life patterns of never-married, divorced and widowed female lone parents vary and
may have less in
common than imagined. Poor, never-married women with several children; older
professional women who
have chosen to be lone parents; widowed men and women; divorced. Differences –
include age at which person
became a single parent, likelihood of marriage/remarriage, current life
circumstances, impact of life-cycle stage
when single parenthood began.
How Long Does it Last?
Ends – remarriage, cohabitation, change of custody, independence of children
Teen moms usually wait for a year or more to marry, after child’s birth; more
likely to remain single.
46% enter common-law relationships. More likely to separate, divorce or marry more
Between 2001-2006, just over 1 million Canadians went through separation or
divorce, just under 1
million from a de facto union. 50% of divorced and 60% of separated couples had
Widows remain lone parents the longest, least likely to remarry.
For most children, lone parent family lasts less than 5 years.
Single Parenthood and the Life Cycle Children need a different kind of nurturing than a spouse needs. Traditionalists
believe the marriage union is
necessary first stage in healthy family formation.
Age of parents.
Teen parents do not have realistic plans for future employment, have not finished
Later pregnancy more likely to support self and child. Young women growing up in
poor families more likely
to become teen moms and live in poverty. The older single woman – pregnancy is not
accidental but result of
woman’s wish to become a parent.