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Characteristics of Single Parents

by Leah Campbell, studioD

According to the Women’s Legal Defense and Education Fund, nearly half of today’s mothers will spend at least some time as a single parent. Statistics released in 2012 show that 45 percent of those mothers will never have been married, while 55 percent of them will be divorced. More older, established adults are setting out to become single parents by choice. A report released by the Family Support Agency acknowledges that much of the research conducted in regards to single parents has focused on young unmarried mothers, but a few key characteristics are common among the average single parent.


The same reports released by the WLDEF asserted that one-quarter of single mothers have a college degree, with one-sixth never completing high school. The FSA points to a 1997 Labor Force Survey that showed single mothers in all categories exhibited lower educational achievement than married mothers.


Among 50 percent of single mother families, the annual income is less than $25,000. According to the WLDEF report, the median income in these single-mother homes only achieves one-third the median average in dual income families. Single mothers have three times the poverty rate as the rest of the population, and account for the majority of children living in poverty. For one-third of these families, more than half of their income is spent on housing.

Free Time

The Australian Community Survey found that single parents are more likely to seek out social experiences outside the home than their married counterparts. On a monthly basis, 38 percent say they attend at least one party, compared to 25 percent in the rest of the parenting population. However, they are also more likely than the rest of the population to take part in outdoor recreation with their children, and to be involved in school organizations.

Religious Beliefs

The ACS found that 39 percent of single parents attest to the value of spirituality in their lives, compared to 32 percent of the general population. It is more common for them to place an importance on helping others than it is for their peers to do the same, and they are just as likely to devote time to prayer in their daily lives. They appear to attend church as frequently as the rest of the population, but are two times more likely to view fellow church-goers as being hypocritical. Possibly as a result, they are also 10 percent more likely than the rest of the population to consider alternative forms of spirituality.

About the Author

Living in Alaska, Leah Campbell has traveled the world and written extensively on topics relating to infertility, dating, adoption and parenting. She recently released her first book, and holds a psychology degree (with an emphasis in child development and abnormal child psychology) from San Diego State University.

Photo Credits

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