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Doing It Alone as a Dad

The term ‘single parent’ is often assumed to refer to mother led households yet the number of single fathers is growing across the world with the proportion of children living with fathers increasing from 1% to 4% in the United States since the 1960’s. Little is understood about these families although we do know that ‘single fatherhood is associated with poorer self-reported health and mental health, lifestyle practices and habits, increased health complications, psychological symptoms, hospital admissions, and higher mortality’. This is not good for either parents or children and understanding the challenges is important for those of us who work with families.

Shorey and Pereira (2022) conducted a systematic review and meta-synthesis to answer the questions “What types of challenges and experiences do single fathers face in single parenthood?” and “How can current parenting interventions and guidelines be improved to better support single fathers?” They identified six main themes which reflect an initially difficult experience where fathers felt overwhelmed with the greatest challenges in the domains of (i) domestic duties and childcare, (ii) finances and employment, (iii) raising daughters and (iv) the father’s psycho-emotional difficulties. Despite these challenges transformation occurred in both values and performance with an acceptance that mothers and fathers can both effectively parent with a less rigid adherence to ‘traditional split roles of provider and nurturers.’ Fathers grew to appreciate that their emotional connection to children was not gender based but a direct result of the caregiving relationship.

The authors encourage practitioners who work with families to engage fathers who may feel hesitant to speak of their experiences in the knowledge that positive transformation is to be expected for the benefit of all.


Shorey, S .and Pereira, T. (2022) Parenting experiences of single fathers: A meta-synthesis Family Process DOI: 10.1111/famp.12830

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