Single-parent family

May 15, 2015 10:00 am

Single-parent family iateToday we celebrate the International Family Day and for this reason we have chosen “single-parent family” as the IATE Term of the Week.

A “single-parent family” is a family with one or more children under age, headed only by one parent (the father or the mother) who is probably widowed or divorced, or has never been married. While divorce is the most frequent reason, other events that lead to single parenting are desertion, imprisonment and pregnancy outside of wedlock.

Traditionally, the main cause of single-parent families was the death of a spouse. Historical estimates indicate that in French, English, or Spanish villages in the 17th and 18th centuries, at least one-third of children lost one of their parents during childhood. But this scenario has shifted in recent years and the number of one-parent families has increased mainly due to the increase in divorces. On the other hand, in the early 2000s the new families’ role is also the result of single parents who have never got married.

Single-parent familyToday the most frequent type of single-parent homes consists of a mother and her biological or adopted children. Actually in 2002, 16.5 million or 23 percent of all children were living with their single mother. Besides, according to society’s changing attitudes, households headed by a single father increased considerably after the early 1980s. This means that in 2002, about five percent of minors lived with their single fathers. The reason is that a growing number of fathers take an active parental role as a stay-at-home dad.

Although the number and kind of single-parent families can vary within each country, culture and ethnic group, the truth is that the single-parenting family model shows a general increase worldwide. It has become an accepted norm found in multiple countries. Globally, one-quarter to one-third of all families are headed by single parents. Especially developed countries are experiencing a growth in the number of this family model. The first one in the world ranking is the United States, followed by Canada, Australia and Denmark. Also in the United Kingdom, about 1 out of 4 families with children are single-parent families. Along with this, it has been shown that there is a high number of children living with only one parent in Africa, many areas of Europe and Latin America.

You can check here some interesting analyses, statistics and demographics trends about single-parent families around the world.

By choosing this term we also want to encourage translators to make a contribution to IATE and propose the equivalents in other languages.

Contribute to IATE! A terminologist for the respective language will revise your answer and decide whether to validate them. Given the implications of the process, a delay is to be expected.


Encyclopedia of Children’s Health

West-info. Welfare Society Territory


By Lidia Capitan Zamora. Journalist, web editor and social media expert.

Communication Trainee at TermCoord

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