Of children under age 18 living with a single parent
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% of children under age 18 living with a single parent. Single parent families. Based on 2000 census, about 80% of single parent families are headed by women The number of father-headed single parent families has more than tripled since 1980. . Court-Ordered Visiting, the Child’s View.

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Single parent families

  • Based on 2000 census, about 80% of single parent families are headed by women

  • The number of father-headed single parent families has more than tripled since 1980.


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Court-Ordered Visiting, the Child’s View

  • “The visiting schedule was set up on the basis of a compromise meeting the demands of both parents.”

  • Visits with dad: quote, p. 177

  • “Obviously this father didn’t have a clue of what to do with young girls, and no one helped him.”

  • W: “I have rarely met a child who felt protected by this (legal) system.”


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Growing Up Lonely

  • Paula: “I know that Mom turned herself inside out to support us and I’ll always be grateful to her, but I remember her as absent.”

  • Quote, p. 166



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Why men don’t pay

  • What do the men themselves say?

    • Their relationships with their children are no longer close. Chambers, Making Men Pay

    • They believe the mothers doesn’t spend the money on the child. Haskins, “Child Support: A Father’s View”

    • They believe judges are biased and set unreasonable awards. Greif, Single Fathers

  • Notice that the record isn’t much different for mothers ordered to pay child support.


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Roles of non-custodial divorced fathers

  • Traditionalists

  • Neotraditionalists

  • Innovators

    • Quotes from Arendell, Fathers and Divorce, cited by Aulette, Changing American Families, pp. 281-282


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Single Parent Families: Typical dynamics

  • Role overload and its effects on children and parents

  • Lack of the balancing effect that may come from the second parent

  • Relationship with noncustodial parent


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Joint Custody

  • Joint legal custody vs. joint physical custody

  • Limiting factors on joint physical custody

    • Jobs and household location

    • Relationship of divorced partners

    • Age of children


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Stepfamilies

  • How many class members have lived in a stepfamily?

  • Quote, p. 169-170, Wallerstein: “In looking over the youngest children of divorce, I was mystified by the fact that good remarriages did not seem to help them overcome the trauma of divorce….”


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Demography of step-families

  • For women, more likely to remarry if they divorce at a younger age

  • More likelihood of remarriage among non-Hispanic whites (58% w/in 5 yrs) than among Hispanics (44%) or African Americans (32%)… Rate of remarriage has declined pretty steadily since 1960s and at current rates, about 2/3 of all divorced women will ever remarry

  • 39% of remarried women divorce again within 10 years (compared with 33% of first marriages


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Cohabitation and step-families

  • Decline in remarriage associated with steady rise in cohabitation

  • Should probably redefine stepfamilies to include cohabitation situations


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Stepfamilies: redefinition from Andrew Cherlin

  • “Two adults are married or cohabiting, and

  • At least one adult has a child present from a previous marriage or relationship”

  • Based on the National Survey of Children, almost 2/3 of children enter stepfamilies through cohabitation of parent


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Stepfamily as an incomplete institution (Cherlin, p. 437)

  • Doing the work of kinship

    • Andrew Cherlin: “If there is no relationship, even a blood relative may not be counted as kin.” e.g., my second cousins vs. my mom’s

      Stepfamilies and created kin. Rules are few and dependence on the work of kinship even more central.

  • Remarriage chains: a path that links individuals acreoss households through the ties of disrupted unions and new unions


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Rights and Responsibilities of Stepparents

  • Remember “Daddy and Papa,” when the black grandparents are asked who is the real father of their children

  • The law agrees with the grandparents here, because the child has been adopted, but in stepfamilies, the law does not agree

  • Cherlin quote, p. 438


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Cherlin and Furstenberg: Divided Families

  • “Step-parents quickly discover that they have only been issued a limited license to parent. The wiser ones among them accept the limits of their job description and bide their time.” (W agrees)


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Wallerstein: more demographics

  • At current rates, 25% of all children will spend part of their growing up years in stepfamilies

  • 40% of marriages in the 1990s involved one or both partner having been married before

  • In half the remarriages in her study at least one of the children did not have a strong relationship with the step-parent


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More Wallerstein

  • Kids who have rejected their biological fathers may turn eagerly to their stepfather. “My step father saved my life.”

  • Biological fathers can do a great deal to promote stronger relations of their child with his/her stepfather if they so choose.

    • Instructor: Presumably the same is true of biological noncustodial mothers.


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W: Mother as mediator

  • Perhaps even more important between child(ren) and stepfather than in biological families

  • W believes it is important in those situations that mother maintain some independence from step-father; Cherlin sees it the other way (the new marriage should take clear priority).


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Divorce and college

  • A little less than 30% of kids from divorced families received full or consistent partial help with college expenses.

  • The comparison figure for the intact familes in her study was 90%.

  • “What is it with these dads?” (p. 252)


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Effects of stepfamilies: the bad news

  • Children in stepfamilies no better off, on average, than children in divorced single parent households.

  • This shows up in many studies, despite the obvious advantage in terms of economics and role overload.

  • W: “National reports show us that children in remarriages leave home earlier than children in intact families.”


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Effects of stepfamilies: the good news

  • “Most stepparents report they are happy with their roles and their new families. After a period of adjustment, most stepchildren come to view their stepparents positively, although not as positively as children view their biological parents.” Cherlin


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Effects of divorce on “kids” as they grow up

  • Paula: “I’ve been sleeping with men since I was twelve. I’ve probably been with over seventy guys.”

  • Is Paula an extreme case (and if so, why did Wallerstein choose to feature her?)

    • 1 in 4 started using drugs and or alcohol before age 14

    • 1 in 5 had first sexual experience before age 14


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Getting married

  • Only 60 of 93 in original study married by the time of the 25-year follow-up

  • Of those who married, half made their decision impulsively in late teens or early 20s

  • Many of them now feel trapped

  • “I was shocked to discover that many of the lasting bad marriages in this group were as troubled or more troubled than the marriages their parents had escaped.”

  • Comparison group: quote, p. 193


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Comparisons

  • 50% drinking or taking drugs by 18, compared with 40% in nationwide survey

  • Over half of girls sexually active with multiple partners during high school years; in comparison group, “great majority” postponed sex until last year of high school or early years in college