The Rise of the Single Dad

Caroline Kitchener in The Atlantic

Today, more men than ever are making the same choice. A Pew Research study published this statistic this summer: 8 percent of households with minor children are now headed by a single father, up from just one percent in 1960.

This represents a nine-fold increase, from fewer than 300,000 households in 1960 to more than 2.6 million in 2011. In contrast, the number of single-mother households increased four-fold during that time period, from 1.9 million in 1960 to 8.6 million in 2011.

These numbers speak to two trends in American family life today: a rising divorce rate over the past half-century, along with the increasing frequency of parents never marrying at all; and the growing societal acceptance of fathers as primary caregivers.

A century ago, this image of men left alone with children was horrifying enough to spur an anti-suffrage movement. So what happened? How did single fatherhood go from terrifying to increasingly normal?

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