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June 15, 2024 52 mins

More men than ever before are raising kids as single dads. To celebrate Father's Day, Cristen and Caroline trace how single fatherhood has become the new normal and spotlight how and why society treats single dads differently from single moms in this classic episode.

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Speaker 1 (00:05):
Hey, this is Annie and Samantha.

Speaker 2 (00:06):
I'm welcome to stuff one never told you, pro ic
gonna buy hurry you.

Speaker 3 (00:18):
And today we are bringing back a classic for Father's Day,
which is this weekend as it comes out as always,
if for whatever reason Father's Day is a source of
pain or just for some reason it is not a
happy thing for you or not something you look forward

to or even want to think about, totally see you,
totally hear you. I thought it was last weekend, to
be honest, this weekend totally forgot. But we have done
a lot of episodes, you and I Samantha around around this,
around fathers and.

Speaker 2 (01:00):
Even kind of culturally.

Speaker 3 (01:02):
We were just talking about like the term daddy, and
we've done daddy issues. This is one that we haven't
brought back. It is a classic that Kristen and Caroline
did who were the previous host slash creator, and it
was around single dads. And we've talked a lot before
about the differences in how we perceive single dads and

single moms.

Speaker 1 (01:25):
But I have been.

Speaker 3 (01:25):
Reading a bit lately and I would love listenership write
in about this about a slow shift and where there
are more stay at home dads are more single dads
and more instances of that happening and it being slightly
more normal as opposed to like, oh wow, he's amazing.

I think that's still there. But that's definitely still there
in our media, I would say. But I would love
to come back and look into that more because that
was something that came up a lot during the pandemic
and gender roles in terms of very head noorm of
sense in terms of who was doing the caretaking and

how we A lot of times single moms are just
expected to do a bunch more stuff. So I would
like to look into single dads. I would like to
check in on single dads to see.

Speaker 2 (02:22):
What's up with that, a more updated look.

Speaker 3 (02:24):
But in the meantime, please enjoy this classic episode.

Speaker 4 (02:32):
Welcome to Stuff Mom Never Told You from how Stuff
worts dot com.

Speaker 1 (02:41):
A little and welcome to the podcast. I'm Caroline and
I'm Kristin.

Speaker 4 (02:45):
And in celebration of Father's Day, we are connecting this
episode with the episode we did for Mother's Day on
single Moms, and so today we want to talk to
you about single dads because we can't leave out that
very important portion of the popular So we want to
celebrate dads, and today we're looking at those of you
who are going it alone.

Speaker 5 (03:05):
Yeah, and it's a good time to be talking about
single dads, not just because Father's Day was yesterday, but
because single dads are on the rise and they're making
a lot of headlines. For instance, in July twenty thirteen,
the Pe Research Center reported that a record eight percent

of households with minor children in the US are now
headed by a single father, which is up from just
over one percent in nineteen sixty.

Speaker 1 (03:35):
Yeah, and Pew talks about how.

Speaker 6 (03:37):
That's a ninefold increase since nineteen sixty, from less than
three hundred thousand to more than two point six million
and twenty eleven. And for a comparison, the number of
single mother households increased more than just fourfold during that
time period, up to eight point six million and twenty
eleven from one point nine million in nineteen sixty. And

single dads have also increased as a percentage of all
single parents. In nineteen sixty, about fourteen percent of single
parent households.

Speaker 1 (04:06):
Were headed by dads.

Speaker 6 (04:07):
Today that's almost one quarter twenty four percent.

Speaker 5 (04:11):
And then for another percent in twenty eleven, and single
dads made up eighteen point three percent of custodial parents,
which is when a person has full time solo custody
of the kids. And this isn't just a demographic change
happening in the US. Our Canadian neighbors as well are
also seeing the rise of single dads. According to the

twenty eleven Canadian Census, there was an eight percent jump
in the number of single parent homes and of those,
you have a sixteen point two percent increase in single
dad led households in two thousand and eleven, which outpaced
the former increase of fourteen percent from two thousand and
one to two thousand and six. So that is a

lot of percent to say that we have been on
a steady climb in the number of single dad led households.

Speaker 6 (05:04):
Yeah, and you know, if you listen to our single
Mom episode, which I know you did, I hope so.
But there are a lot of factors going into the
rise in single dads that also accompany the rise in
single moms. For instance, in general, there's just been an
increase in the share of non marital births in general,
and so that's why it's important when we mentioned the

custodial parents earlier, because there are a lot of different types.
As we'll explain further in a minute, there are a
lot of different types of single parents.

Speaker 1 (05:33):
It's not just people who have solo custody.

Speaker 5 (05:36):
There's also people who are divorced or widowed, et cetera,
et cetera. Yeah, and to get an idea of how
that share of the non marital births as they're called
so clinically has increased. According to the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention, forty point seven percent of all US
births now in the United States are two unmarried women.

But again, even though those women are unmarried, that doesn't
necessarily mean they don't have a partner or you know,
like we said, there are many different types of single parents.

Speaker 6 (06:09):
Right, And speaking of divorce, the rates have leveled off,
but they're still higher than they were in the nineteen
sixties and seventies, which means more single parents.

Speaker 1 (06:19):
And there's also issues around the legal system.

Speaker 6 (06:21):
Some experts suggest that changes in the legal system and
laws in various states have led to more opportunities for
fathers to gain at least partial custody of children in
the event of a breakup.

Speaker 1 (06:32):
A lot of that has to do with the.

Speaker 6 (06:34):
Way that we perceive fathers in general, and the way
we perceive single fathers in particular, but also the way
that they see themselves.

Speaker 5 (06:43):
Right, the public perception of single fatherhood and simply the
role of a dad and a family and his role
with child rearing has evolved so much, particularly in the
past forty or fifty years, because you know, we've seen
these household and gender roles for men shifting since the

nineteen sixties, away from that idea that you know, dads
just go to work and they bring home the bacon
and that's kind of it, whereas mom takes care of
the kids and so on.

Speaker 1 (07:15):
For instance, mad Men.

Speaker 5 (07:17):
Not to completely fictionalize this conversation, but you know, Don
Draper gets a divorce from Betty spoiler alert, and the
kids live with Betty and then they come every now
and then.

Speaker 1 (07:26):
To visit him.

Speaker 5 (07:27):
Because back then it was more of the idea that,
you know, a full time single dad that would be
kind of nutty.

Speaker 1 (07:34):
Yeah, that would be nutty. But now now we're not
so opposed to the.

Speaker 6 (07:38):
Idea, the idea that guys might be single dads and
or gets soul custody in the event of a divorce
doesn't seem totally alien. And it's funny though, to go
back and look at just the histrionics that surrounded men
being the caregivers for children. The Atlantic had a great
post looking at postcards that were going around target getting

men fathers in particular during the suffrage movement.

Speaker 1 (08:04):
There was no gray area.

Speaker 6 (08:05):
It was like a zero sum game where either the
man was at home and he was making the money
and he was in control and the wife was home
taking care of the kids, or as they feared would
happen if women gained the vote, the women would put
on pants and march right out of the home and
start working.

Speaker 1 (08:20):
And the men would be left attend to the children. Yeah.

Speaker 5 (08:24):
One of the tropes from that time was something called
the Suffragette Madonna, and it's this hilarious image of this
befuddled guy, this dad looking character, holding a baby and
he's you know, he's in like a suit, but he
also has a halo around his head because oh, well,
his wife won the right to vote, so now he's

got to be home taking care of the baby. And
that was at that time such a radical idea in
terms of, you know, the gender roles then that it was.
I mean, it was one of the major platforms arguing
against giving women the vote because well, if you do that,
slippery slope to men having to be involved fathers.

Speaker 1 (09:10):
Yeah, and I know who wants that fathers anyway.

Speaker 6 (09:15):
So, like we said, now the public is really starting
to acknowledge men as more than just breadwinners.

Speaker 1 (09:20):
They're also caregivers too.

Speaker 6 (09:22):
And the New York Times did a piece on single
dads by choice. We talked about single moms by choice
in our last episode, but talking about how these guys
nowadays who are becoming dads, their new dads come from
the generations who really believed in feminism, preached equal rights
and civil rights, and so they grew up believing in

gender equality. And they talked to David Klow, who's a
psychotherapist who runs men's groups at the Family Institute at
Northwestern University, and he said, there's a new sense of
masculinity that incorporates being a single father, accomplished and successful
the business world, but also very.

Speaker 1 (10:02):
Loving and caring.

Speaker 5 (10:03):
Yeah, and if you look at time use data, you
see that even today, yes, moms tend to spend whether
they're working or if they're you know, full.

Speaker 1 (10:13):
Time stay at home moms.

Speaker 5 (10:15):
No matter what the situation is, women tend to spend
more time caring for the kids, but fathers are spending
more time with their children than ever before. So, for instance,
the Pew Research Center found that in twenty eleven, dads
were spending seven hours a week on childcare and ten
hours a week on housework, which is half of what

mothers do. But that's still a huge leap from nineteen
sixty five, when dads did only two and a half
hours a week of childcare and four hours of housework.

Speaker 6 (10:47):
Yeah, and I mean people kind of fully expect that
now they expect more from their from the from their dads,
I mean, society does more. From the Pew Research Center,
they found that the public believes that the father's greatest
role is to provide values to his children, followed by
emotional support, discipline, and income support, which really isn't that

far off from what the values that they ascribed to
mothers women needing to do.

Speaker 5 (11:13):
Yeah, and speaking of madmen, you can see this kind
of shift too in our public perception of the important
role of fathers with their kids. In how dads are
portrayed in advertising. There was a now somewhat infamous Huggies
diaper campaign a few years back that portrayed dads having

to change a diaper as like the ultimate test of
these diapers, like amazing qualities because of a dud can.

Speaker 1 (11:41):
Do it, then anybody can do it.

Speaker 5 (11:43):
And they ended up having to pull the campaign because
a lot of guys took offense at that of like,
excuse me, involved father, here, I can change a diaper.
You know this is this is a new generation we're
talking about now, these guys who are scared of changing diapers.

Speaker 6 (12:01):
Yeah, I feel like we're definitely in a time period
where we're getting more and more pushback against ads and
marketing that just depicts men as dopey and uninvolved and
uninterested and all they do is make the money.

Speaker 1 (12:14):
And I don't know how to take out the garbage.

Speaker 5 (12:18):
Yeah, you actually see ads now of dads driving the
kids places, or dads doing the laundry or doing the dishes.

Speaker 1 (12:25):
Right, Yes, that.

Speaker 6 (12:26):
It's not just mom at home doing it while the
dad does other things. Right, And as far as I mean,
as far as perceptions go, they're also very important when
it comes to actual court situations divorce, custody, because men
used to assume that there was no way that they
would get custody of their kids in a divorce, so
they were generally just less likely to fight to get it,

whether they were fighting the courts or just the mom.
And this is coming from an article that The Atlantic
did in February twenty fourteen talking about this this rise
in single dads.

Speaker 5 (12:59):
Yeah, this childs the issue is a huge factor. Like
we said, in this increasing you know a number of
guys who are fighting for custody for their kids or
just getting custody for their kids because sometimes, as the
Atlantic author was talking about, it can be easier to
just give someone soul custody, and sometimes the mom doesn't

want to have soul custody of the kids. But it
took a long time for the courts to wrap their
heads around this notion that dads can be equally good
parents to kids as mothers can be, because for a
long time, the knee jerk assumption was, oh, well, mothers
are more fit for raising kids, So custody is going

to go with the mom. Even in cases if you have,
say an unwed couple and they split up, but they've
got to you know, she has the kid, and she
meets someone else.

Speaker 1 (13:53):
They want to get married, and then he, you know,
the new guy wants.

Speaker 5 (13:56):
To adopt the kid. The court would be like, Okay, yeah,
it's fine because the unwed father, you know, he's like
just kind of over there doing his stuff, and like
the kid needs to stay with the mom no matter what.
But then in nineteen seventy two you have the case
Stanley v. Illinois that really started to you know, start
this domino effect of granting fathers more custody rights because

this was the first time the court considered the custodial
rights of unmarried biological fathers. And it was this case
of Joan and Peter Stanley who lived together for eighteen years.

Speaker 1 (14:32):
They had three.

Speaker 5 (14:33):
Kids together, never got married, Joan died, and the state
automatically gave the kids. It made the kids like wardens
of the state because they just assumed, well, Peter Stanley, you're,
you know, this unwed father certainly can't be, you know,
fit to raise children. He ended up fighting it and

it went all the way up to the Supreme Court,
and the Supreme Court, under the Protection Clause in the
Fourteenth Amendment, granted him custody of his kids. Basically, saying
that they should only be taken away on proof of
being unfit or neglectful. And this was really interpreted as
a ruling of gender equality and was applied in a

lot of other different custodial cases.

Speaker 1 (15:19):
But even still, I mean, that was nineteen seventy two,
and it still took a.

Speaker 5 (15:23):
Long time for states to gradually move away from that
automatically siding with the biological mother. So, for example, the
Sanley versus Illinois ruling helped invalidate a provision in the
New York domestic relations law that gave unwood mothers but
not fathers, the right to adopt their kids. So talk about,

you know, an equality issue right there. So there was
definitely a step in the right direction because you know,
fathers should be able to I think, have a.

Speaker 1 (15:55):
Say in that kind of legal matter.

Speaker 6 (15:57):
Well, it doesn't even make sense to me, like me now,
Andy fourteen, as a thirty year old woman, it doesn't
even make sense to me that you're the father and
you're not the first choice on like being able to
adopt kids or get Yeah, I don't know, it doesn't
make any sense. But really, the ball got rolling in
the early two thousands when many states began adopting legislation

providing for joint physical custody and which is different than
just joint legal custody. These policies were supposed to encourage
basically both parents to spend equal time with the kid,
but interestingly, it seemed to spark a rise in single dads.
And the perfect example that they give is from a

study in the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies in twenty
eleven that looked at the state of Oregon, which in
nineteen ninety seven became one of the first states to
formally enact joint parenting legislation. Before this happened, Oregon's custody
law had favored joint legal custody, so the parents both
have a say in decisions made about the child, but

not joint physical custody.

Speaker 1 (17:02):
After the new law.

Speaker 6 (17:04):
Oregon courts defaulted to joint parenting, encouraging the child to
spend half her time with dad and half with mom.
But in Oregon, after this law, it ended up swaying
way more towards dads. Why what's going on Because the
changing laws are actually empowering dads to ask for more.

It's not that like Oregon puts this law and effect,
and all of a sudden, all these deadbeat moms are like, hah,
finally I'm free. It's just that dad's perceptions of themselves,
of the way things should be, of the way things
can be, are starting to change.

Speaker 1 (17:40):
And so previously, you know, decades and decades before, dad's just.

Speaker 6 (17:46):
Assumed like, Okay, well, I'm just going to see him
on the weekends, or I'll see him every other weekend
or whatever, when really they're now starting to think, and
they're backed by the courts and starting to think, oh,
I can take more responsibility. I want to take more responsibility,
and I'm going.

Speaker 5 (17:59):
To ask yeah, and not to say that it's always
illegal and cheap cake walk to get custody rights if you.

Speaker 1 (18:09):
Are, you know, a father.

Speaker 5 (18:10):
And I'm sure that we'll hear from some dads out
there who have or maybe are going through these kinds
of custody issues, because there are still plenty of courts
that do tend to side more with the mom. But
there's definitely been so much progress since that Stanley v.
Illinois decision, I mean, and even the fact Caroline that

in contrast to our episode on Single Moms where we
trace the history back centuries I mean the history, at
least legally speaking in the US kind of just starts
in the seventies. Yeah, I mean that speaks to how
significant of a change this is.

Speaker 6 (18:49):
Yeah, that goes beyond assuming, that goes beyond assuming that like, oh,
women are the better parents and mothers and kids should
be with that.

Speaker 1 (18:56):
That's a belief system. That's just like you believe that
that's the way.

Speaker 6 (19:00):
And so it makes sense then in that context that
it took so long to change. But now, like I said,
being in twenty fourteen, I can't imagine.

Speaker 5 (19:09):
Yeah, well, it's like you saying that reminds me of
one of the sources we were reading talking about how
our ideas of motherhood and fatherhood in a lot of
ways sort of like gender is very much a construct,
like influenced by culture.

Speaker 1 (19:23):
And time and the media, et cetera.

Speaker 5 (19:27):
So the good thing is I feel like that our construct,
our fatherhood construct, has only developed in a more positive way.
And speaking again of single dads in particular, who who
are these guys, Caroline, Who are these these fellas?

Speaker 6 (19:44):
Yeah, So that twenty thirteen report that Pew release looking
at the rise in single fathers, it is worth specifying
who they were looking at. So fathers in that Pew
report are fifteen years or older, They are the head
of their household, They are living with their own own
minor children, whether those children are biological step children or adopted.

Pugh excluded fathers who are living in a household headed
by someone else, and fathers whose children are not living
with them, and they broke down why these guys are
single fathers. About half fifty two percent are separated, divorced, widowed,
or never married, and are living without a cohabitating partner.

Speaker 1 (20:24):
However, some forty one percent are living with a non
marital partner.

Speaker 6 (20:28):
So again there's that whole like murky area where okay,
you're technically legally a single dad, but you might have
somebody living with you. Only seven percent are married still
but living apart from their spouse with custody of the kids.

Speaker 5 (20:42):
And when we compare fathers heading households solo versus fathers
in two parent households, we do see similar patterns as
we talked about in the single Mom's episode, because single
dads do tend to be younger, a little bit less educated,
less financially well off, and less likely to be white,
and also less likely to be in full time jobs.

So this also brings up than this issue of parental resources,
and we'll get into.

Speaker 1 (21:10):
Some more comparisons in a minute.

Speaker 6 (21:12):
We definitely want to look at single moms versus single dads.

Speaker 1 (21:15):
There are a lot of statistics out there that we
want to throw at you, but we'll get right into
that after a quick break.

Speaker 5 (21:26):
So we just talked about how single fathers and single
moms share some demographic similarities, but there are also some
differences worth noting aside from the fact that single fathers
tend to be men, single mothers tend to be women.
Beyond that, single fathers are more likely than single mothers

to be living with a cohabitating partner, far likelier actually
a forty one percent versus sixteen percent, but those cohabitating
guys tend to be younger.

Speaker 1 (21:58):
Single dads who are over forty.

Speaker 5 (22:00):
Typically live with just the kids a La Louis c
k who yes, we will talk about a little bit
more later in the podcast.

Speaker 6 (22:08):
And also compared to single moms, single dads are more
likely to be white, and they're more likely to.

Speaker 1 (22:13):
Own their own home.

Speaker 6 (22:14):
Two thirds of single dads own their own home, while
two thirds of single moms rent and generally, single dads
are older than single moms. Fifty two percent of them
are under forty compared to sixty two percent of single moms,
whereas forty seven percent of them are over forty compared
to thirty eight percent of single moms.

Speaker 1 (22:34):
So there are some.

Speaker 5 (22:35):
Interesting demographic breakdowns. I mean, obviously, you know, single dads,
same as single moms, are not a monolithic group, but
there are some standout differences, particularly when.

Speaker 1 (22:49):
It comes to this income issue.

Speaker 5 (22:52):
Because single fathers, even though they tend to have less money,
make less money, tend to they're less likely to be
in a full time job than married fathers, but compared
to single mothers, they tend to have higher incomes and
are far less likely to be living at or below
the poverty line twenty four percent versus forty three percent

of single moms living below the poverty line, which again
brings up another contrast to our single mom's issue, where
we spent a lot of time talking about government resources
and kind of bridging the gap for single moms who
need more assistance, whereas Caroline, I saw very little of
the same kind of information targeted to dads. Yeah, exactly,

and when you look at how much money these guys
are bringing home every year.

Speaker 6 (23:41):
The average amount for a single dad household of three
is a lot less than that of a married father.
So the single dads tend to bring home about forty
thousand dollars a year, whereas married fathers tend to bring
home about seventy thousand on average. But even though that's
a lot lower than married fathers, it's more than single
mom who bring home a media and adjusted annual income

for that three person household of only twenty six thousand dollars.

Speaker 5 (24:07):
So how do these demographic differences dad v. Mom?

Speaker 1 (24:12):
How does all this shakeout for the kids?

Speaker 5 (24:15):
Are there differences between single dad and single mom parenting?
A lot of the studies that we looked at found that, really,
when all the data shakes out, there's not a huge
difference because when it comes to parenting, as is the
same case if you talk about LGBT parenting and how

sexual orientation influences child outcomes, it's not so much gender
sexual orientation those kinds of factors that influence child outcomes,
but rather this.

Speaker 1 (24:48):
Issue of resources.

Speaker 5 (24:51):
Right, Yeah, and so if you look at school, for instance,
there have been a lot of studies on how kids
of single parents fare at school, and a a lot
of studies have mainly shown that it's not the dad
versus mom, man versus woman factor. It's more the socioeconomic
factors and kind of having just one parent. So like

when I was growing up, you know, I had mom
there who was cooking dinner and making sure I got dressed.
I had dad to help me with my math homework.
You know, there was always one parent available to help
drive me somewhere while the other took care of I
don't know, bills.

Speaker 1 (25:23):
Or work or whatever they had to do.

Speaker 6 (25:26):
Whether you're a man or a woman, if you're a
single parent, I think as any single parent could attest,
where's the other person to go help you do some things?
Like they talked to one single dad I think in
the New York Times who said, you know, as a
single parent, if you if it's ten o'clock at night
and your five year old's in bed and you realize
you don't have any milk for the.

Speaker 5 (25:43):
Next day, who's going to go out and get the milk?
But anyway, I digress, So dogs should be better trained.

Speaker 1 (25:50):
Cats can't get that milk. Get a cat to go
out and get milk or a rumba. It's yes, and
they're perfect.

Speaker 6 (25:58):
So there was a study in the Journal of Family
Issues from nineteen ninety four that looked at data from
the nineteen eighty eight National Longitudinal Study, and so I
realized that that's very dated, but there's still trends that
are very relevant. They found that children from single father
and single mother families perform about the same at school,
but both are outperformed by children from two parent families,

So when you look more closely at dad versus mom,
they said that a lack of economic resources explains.

Speaker 1 (26:26):
The school difficulties of kids from single mother families, And yes,
that's from a.

Speaker 6 (26:31):
Long time ago, but it still makes sense in twenty fourteen,
considering single moms makes so much less than single dads.
And they found also that a lack of interpersonal parental
resources provides a more accurate description for why children from
single father families do poorly in school. But maybe that's
changing as our views of single dads now and their views.

Speaker 1 (26:52):
Of themselves change.

Speaker 5 (26:54):
Yeah, and sort of along these same lines, there was
a more recent study that came out in twenty ten
in the Journal of Men, Marriage and Family, which found
that while there might be some small differences in parenting
behaviors of single mothers and single fathers, these differences are
often sensitive to demographic disparities and don't really translate to

academic deficits for children in either family type. So it's
not like, oh, well, if Susie's going to go live
with dad, then her grades are going to plummet, so
Susie should live with mom instead. Like, as long as
Susie's mom and dad are both as engaged as.

Speaker 1 (27:30):
They can be, she will do all right. Yeah, the
kids will be all right. The kids are all right.

Speaker 6 (27:38):
But there are benefits of dealing with dads, some psychologists
and sociologists would argue, and one of those.

Speaker 1 (27:45):
Factors is play.

Speaker 6 (27:46):
W Brad Wilcox, who's a sociologist at UVA and studies
marriage and families, said that dads are actually more likely
to rough house play than moms, which is a style of.

Speaker 1 (27:55):
Play that helps teach kids to control.

Speaker 6 (27:57):
Their bodies and their emotions. And I'm thinking, I'm like,
my dad never rough house with me.

Speaker 1 (28:04):
But then again, I don't know. He was forty when
they had me, so maybe he was done with the
rough housing.

Speaker 5 (28:10):
Yeah, I was the last after a lot of kids.
So I remember some rough house play when I was small,
but I think by the time I got like a
little bit older, he was.

Speaker 1 (28:20):
Probably worn out.

Speaker 6 (28:21):
No, dad was constantly reinforcing how much is back hurt?
So there was no there were no more piggyback rides.
But as far as play and exploration and all that
stuff goes, fathers are also more likely to encourage their
kids to embrace risk, both on the playground and in life.
This influences will Cox, says, the ambitions of children over
the long run.

Speaker 5 (28:41):
Yeah, there have been so many studies in recent years
really digging into the role of fatherhood and how it,
you know, interacts with child outcomes, because I think for
so long people had just been focusing on moms and
they found all of these these findings that aren't terribly surprising, which,
as you know, the thing about the rough house play,

which makes sense because you know, maybe guys are a
little more just rough house in their play. I know
that my brothers were more rough house than my sisters were.
And then if you look at you know, dads who
believe in gender equality, no big surprise that their daughters
tend to have higher career ambitions compared to dads who
have more sexist beliefs. And in fact, though this is important,

dad's gender beliefs were more influential on their daughters than
their mom's beliefs.

Speaker 6 (29:31):
I'm I think that's incredibly important. And I think it's
interesting because I mean, you know the whole thing about oh,
we marry our dads or we look for men who
are like our dads. Well, if your dad is more
likely to support gender equality, believe in feminism and kind
of instill those values in you, that says a lot.

Speaker 5 (29:48):
And that kind of paternal investment in terms of rough
house play or talking about gender equality or disciplining whatever
it might be, that involvement all also translates to better
outcomes for kids in school as well. We just touched
on school, but the National Center for Education Statistics has

also found that father's involvement in school is associated with
a higher likelihood of students getting mostly a's.

Speaker 1 (30:16):
And that's true not just for two parent families, but
also in dad only households. Yeah.

Speaker 6 (30:23):
Yeah, I think it's really important to point out that
it's in both types of families, in the circumstance that
it is that fatherly involvement. Knowing that your dad has
invested that you're more likely to get all a's.

Speaker 1 (30:35):
There's also the involvement in schools.

Speaker 6 (30:37):
Students living in father only families are the most likely
of all students to have highly involved fathers. Forty six
percent of such students have fathers who are highly involved
in their schools. So whether that's volunteering, being on the PTA,
you know, coaching the soccer team, well, and that makes
sense because they have they don't have a.

Speaker 5 (30:56):
Roomba who can go to you know, the pace meetings,
and single dads are actually likelier than stepdads biological fathers
with a stepmother in the home and two parent households,
the two biological parent households to attend parent teacher conferences,
school meetings, school events, and volunteer. So single dads in

a lot of ways are knocking it out of the park.

Speaker 6 (31:19):
Yeah, And I mean it makes sense because I just
wonder if you know, we're falling back on those social
norms and expectations, gender expectations when in two parent households,
the mom seeses control of the PTA responsibilities, whereas the
dad's like, I'll.

Speaker 1 (31:35):
Just let you do that.

Speaker 5 (31:36):
Yeah, yeah, I think it's so easy. And I'm now
straying off into anecdote for a moment. It's kind of
easy in a heterosexual couple to just fall back on
sort of the traditional gender roles that might have been
modeled for us, because in my family, mom, you know,
my mom cooked dinner and did the dishes, and my

dad worked and mowed the lawn. And I now see
in the patterns of my own life, I just need
your kind of.

Speaker 1 (32:04):
Well, I'll go to the grocery store, you stay home
and change the light bulbs.

Speaker 5 (32:09):
Did this happen like two days ago, maybe, Caroline, it
just happens.

Speaker 1 (32:13):
Well, no, And I mean it's beyond anecdote.

Speaker 6 (32:15):
We talked about this in our Egalitarian Household episode, looking
at straight couples versus gay couples, or same sex versus
opposite sex couples, and how even the most like super
feminist women right women's rights progressive couples, once they get married, it's.

Speaker 1 (32:31):
Like, oh, I'm the man, you're the woman.

Speaker 5 (32:34):
Well, and especially too when it comes to that child rearing.

Speaker 1 (32:37):
I mean, we just cided the statistic a few minutes.

Speaker 5 (32:39):
Ago about how even though dads are doing more than
ever before. Moms are still doing twice as much, but
there are some single dads who are doing it for
themselves and by their own choice. We talked about single
moms by choice in our Single Mom's episode.

Speaker 1 (32:59):
These are men who are sort of going.

Speaker 5 (33:02):
Out of their way because they want to be moms
that they don't want to have the traditional They don't
want to find somebody, you know, and have to go
through all of that.

Speaker 1 (33:09):
They're just like, oh, well, I will.

Speaker 5 (33:11):
Adopt, I will get you know, in vitro, I will
have a baby because I just want to be a mom.
And there are more and more guys who are doing this. Example,
Ricky Martin of Living Leavita, Loca Fame adopted twins not
too long ago and he intends to raise them as
a single dad. Yeah, he's a single dad by choice, right,

live in Leavida Loca.

Speaker 1 (33:33):
He is live in Levita Dad. Yeah, different kind of
Loca these days, right Yeah.

Speaker 6 (33:40):
The New York Times, NPR, ABC News, they all looked
into this whole rise of single father thing, but also
the rise of single fathers by choice, and The New
York Times reported that surrogacy.

Speaker 5 (33:52):
Agencies, adoption agencies, and father support groups are all reporting
that they're seeing more single fathers by choice. A lot
of these guys happened to be gay, but the number
of straight guys looking to go it alone are on
the increase too. Yeah, there was a statistic in that
New York Times article that jumped out to me. They
cited two thousand eight data from the National Center for

Health Statistics which found that men age eighteen to forty
four are twice as likely as women of the same
age group two have adopted a child. Now, that's partially
explained by men being likelier to adopt step children, but
the report also found that seventy three thousand never married
men had also adopted a child, and that group includes

those who are single fathers by choice.

Speaker 6 (34:40):
Right, And you know this whole time, we've been talking
a lot about changes in society, changes in perception of
what's possible, and Steve Majors, who's the communications director for
the same sex advocacy group Family Equality Council, says it's
the same thing for gay men.

Speaker 1 (34:56):
He says that a lot of young gay men once.

Speaker 6 (34:58):
Believed that living in open gay life meant not having children.

Speaker 1 (35:02):
That you were either straight or that you were closeted.

Speaker 6 (35:05):
And then you had a family, or that you were
just gay and single with no kids.

Speaker 1 (35:10):
But now, as you said.

Speaker 5 (35:11):
We're seeing this rise in different technology and whether that's IVF,
whether they're adopting, but we're seeing alongside the rise of
same sex marriage, we're also seeing a rise in gay
men pioneering the use of reproductive technology to have kids.
And we're also seeing a legal evolution as well, in
addition to what we were talking about in terms of

men being able to get child custody, but also legal
doors being opened for gay men to adopt children, because
there are still some states that have bands against that,
but those dominoes are also starting to fall.

Speaker 6 (35:49):
Great and there's people out there doing their parts to
combat those misconceptions. Brian Tessier started up for one one
four Dad, a hotline for prospective single fathers, and Tessier
was talking about how both gay and straight guys reach
out to him a lot about.

Speaker 1 (36:03):
The topic, and many believe that they can't adopt on
their own. Many think that it's not even.

Speaker 6 (36:08):
Possible that legally you have to have some type of
partner going into it with you.

Speaker 5 (36:13):
Yeah, And it was interesting when ABC News was reporting
on this, they talked to some agency professionals who said
that if a child has been in, say an abusive
situation with his or her biological mother or has special needs,
that a single dad in particular can be a really
stabilizing factor. I mean, I think a lot of times

we hear about stories about how difficult it is for
men to adopt, particularly now actually straight men, because they
kind of get like a side day of like, well,
why would you want to adopt a child on your own?
But they can actually be attractive candidates, you know, for kids.

Speaker 6 (36:51):
Right, And they pointed out another advantage of single adoptive dads,
and that is that many adopt older boys, which is
a group that's historically and difficult to place in homes
for adoption.

Speaker 5 (37:02):
And speaking of adoption of having kids in the same
way as there are trade offs anytime you become a parent,
no matter what your family structure looks like. Same goes
for single dads. Right when you're looking at the financial aspects.
For instance, women tend to struggle after a divorce with

making ends meet.

Speaker 1 (37:26):
That's their main financial struggle.

Speaker 6 (37:28):
But for men after a divorce who gain custody of
the kids, it's their careers that can end up kind
of a mess if you look at it from one
perspective or simply different. I mean, it makes sense that
you've got to sacrifice something. And with this change in
society that we're seeing out of more men becoming single dads,
we're also and they're also going to have to get

used to the fact that maybe your career path has
to change, a lot of women have changed their career paths,
you know, from motherhood before.

Speaker 5 (37:56):
Yeah, talking about the quote unquote mommy off ramp that
men any women start to hit around our age, Caroline
of that question of like, well do I want to
have a kid? Do I want to have you know,
keep blazing forward with my career? Can I do both?
How can I make that happen? That kind of lean in.

Speaker 1 (38:14):
Sort of stuff.

Speaker 5 (38:15):
And it was kind of funny, not funny, but a
little chuckle worthy when I read an anecdote from one
of these single dads talking about how frustrating it is
for him when he has to leave work to take
care of his kids. Sometimes he gets the stink eye
from his coworkers because they think, oh, well, shouldn't a
mom be doing that? And it's simply though the same

kinds of issues that working moms have been dealing with
since moms began working. Right. Yeah, there was a two
thousand and eight story that CNN Money did and they
talked to this guy named Dave King who got custody
of his kids, four of them, and had to leave
the job that basically had him on a direct career
path to earning five hundred thousand a year. Was it podcasting, Yeah,

That'spilo podcasting.

Speaker 1 (39:04):
And he, you know, he's like, I love my kids
more than anything. I'm you know, I want to make
them happy.

Speaker 6 (39:09):
But he said, I have to fight my own anger
and frustration when I think about the opportunities I.

Speaker 1 (39:14):
Had that were lost because they were palpable.

Speaker 5 (39:17):
He saw it right there in his future, and then
he had to move and give it up to like
have custody of his kids.

Speaker 1 (39:23):
And all I could think was think, think of all
the women.

Speaker 5 (39:27):
Yeah, that's the only bone that I have to pick
with one of two bones.

Speaker 1 (39:31):
We'll get to the second bone and a second. This
bone that I.

Speaker 5 (39:34):
Have to pick with these kinds of stories is that
it's this novel idea of making some kind of financial
sacrifice for having kids.

Speaker 1 (39:43):
It's as though this decision has never.

Speaker 5 (39:46):
Had to be made by like, oh, I don't know,
like fifty one percent of the population.

Speaker 1 (39:51):
But also though one note on him, it wasn't just.

Speaker 5 (39:54):
The issue of taking a job that you know, didn't
pay him half a million dollars in podcast royalties, but
that the divorce and custody battle that ensued also costs
around a quarter of a million dollars. Like we said earlier,
that you know, the it's not always a simple easy
cakewalk to working out these kinds of custody issues and

becoming a single dad. It can also cost a pretty
penny on top of you know, having to like clothe
and feed them and all that.

Speaker 6 (40:24):
And then you look at the stats that when two
parents divorce and the dad gets custody, it's not nearly
as common for the ex wife to have to pay
any sort of child support to the dad, whereas you know,
it's very typical for the dad to have to pay
for the mom.

Speaker 5 (40:41):
Yeah, I mean, there's definitely still a lot of imbalance
in the legal system in terms of how that works out.
There's also some imbalance too, it seems like when it
comes to dating and remarriage after becoming a single dad.
It seems like from our Mom's episode, a lot of
women who are single moms remain single. I mean, probably

half the reason why is because they don't even have
time to date. But it seems like single dads and
I don't want to say, have an easier time of it,
but are likelier to seek it out.

Speaker 1 (41:16):
Yeah, well that.

Speaker 6 (41:18):
Goes back to the whole I feel like we've talked
about this in different ways on the podcast, but you know,
even when you're talking about marriage or whatever, that men
are much more uncomfortable with being on their own, whereas
a woman, you know, if she if her husband dies,
for instance, like she's more likely to turn to her
support group of friends and be okay, and so she's

maybe not as eager to get back out there and
get another partner, whereas a man who is widowed is
more likely to go out in search of a partner
rather than friends, right, Or to put it another way,
Arman Brod, who's the author of The Single Father, A
Dad's Guide to Parenting without a Partner, says that single
fathers have a tendency, more so than single moms, to
feel incomplete without a partner in the house, so they

risk rushing into a new relationship that may.

Speaker 1 (42:03):
Not be right well.

Speaker 5 (42:05):
And one interesting survey finding related to that is that
when single dads do date, they seem to prefer dating
women who also have children because there's that assumption that, well,
they're going to be a little more understanding of their
fatherly commitments that they might have to make, and.

Speaker 1 (42:23):
Also probably gets over the hurdle of telling a woman
you're on a date with it. Oh, by the way,
I have kids. Probably makes that a little bit easier
if she can.

Speaker 5 (42:31):
Also respond or he can respond, oh, yeah, I also
have children, because that is especially now that we.

Speaker 1 (42:38):
Are, you know, of this age that we are at, Caroline.

Speaker 5 (42:42):
It's you know, if we were both like out in
the dating pool, it would not be a wild notion
for us to end up on a date with someone
who is divorced and or has.

Speaker 1 (42:52):
Children, right.

Speaker 6 (42:54):
Yeah, And there were there were some advice columns out
there about how do you deal with that? How do
you either how you as a woman dat a single dad,
or how do you as a single dad date people
out there because a lot of times there was one
column I read where the woman was just like, you know,
I couldn't handle it because there was a part of
me that realized that his kid was always going to

be his number one priority, and so that is something
that also has to be considered well.

Speaker 5 (43:21):
And speaking of single dads and dating, I mentioned Luis
c K earlier in the podcast. I mean, he has
an entire show pretty much about dating as a single dad,
and it's not just about dating. But he came to
mind with all of this research, not just because he's
hilarious and I'm a huge LUISYK fan and he is

a single dad of two adorable daughters, but he jumped
out in my mind in terms of you know, we
talked a lot about the perception of single dads and
reading these trend pieces on single dads, and particularly single
dads by choice, they are treated so much differently in
a lot of ways than single moms are because for
someone like Luis c K, like, we love him because

he is hilarious and is very insightful, et cetera, et cetera.
But I think we also love him too because we portice.
And I'm just saying like, we like, culturally really gravitate
to this idea of you know, the sacrificial single dad.

Speaker 1 (44:23):
Who is you know, doing it on his own.

Speaker 5 (44:26):
Whereas it seems like when we talk about single moms,
and maybe it's just because there's such an awful historical
legacy of single moms being thrown under the bus, but
I feel like even today, single moms.

Speaker 1 (44:36):
Get a bit of a short end of the stick.

Speaker 5 (44:39):

Speaker 6 (44:40):
In one of the New York Times pieces we read,
the main picture with the story is of a man
in a nice suit in his office with a playpen
next to him, and there's choice.

Speaker 1 (44:50):
On his desk, and he is awesome. That's great, He's
so great.

Speaker 6 (44:55):
But think about the side eye that a woman in
the same position would get. A woman coming to work
and having.

Speaker 5 (45:01):
A playpen there with toys and a baby, like obviously
she's not dedicated to her job or whatever, Whereas it
seems like that the social perception is that a man
who has a playpen in his office is so dedicated. Yeah,
And there's also that whole selfishness perception of single moms
by choice, where they're often painted as you know, just

like I don't know, being almost like narcissists for their decisions,
whereas we think it's like really cool and not to
say that invested single dads aren't laudable and really cool.
I'm just saying I wish that we could a cultural
conversation about single moms could be elevated in a similar

way to single dads, because yes, we need to encourage
men to be active and involved fathers. Study after study
shows that that makes such a huge positive difference in kids' lives.

Speaker 1 (45:57):
But I just wonder.

Speaker 5 (45:58):
Why we tend to will hold more esteem it seems
for single dads and single moms.

Speaker 6 (46:04):
Well, I think that goes back to just cultural expectations.

Speaker 5 (46:08):
I wonder if it also goes back to Kramer Versus Kramer,
the nineteen seventy three drama starring Dustin Hoffman about how
he you know, ends Meryl Streep, his wife ends up
believing he has the kid alone. It's this whole journey
of him learning how to be a father. And I
mean it's really good and it's very poignant and all
of that, but Meryl Streep is painted as this awful, selfish,

deadbeat mom, and in a way, she kind of is
because she abandons her family. Yes, but I feel like
we still have that Kramer versus Kramer, like Dustin Hoffman,
like running through the rainy streets of New York to
get his son kind of ideal of the single dad yeah,
which again it's not bad, but it's like, why are

they heroes and single moms aren't heroines?

Speaker 6 (46:58):
Yeah, I mean I think you nailed it on the
talking about just like the cultural legacy, the cultural nastiness
with which women were single moms have always been treated
and single.

Speaker 1 (47:09):
Dads are so by comparison, rare.

Speaker 6 (47:12):
But with this trend, with this rise in single fathers,
I really think we're going to see a shift. I mean,
if we're already seeing it with people getting mad about
diaper advertisements, I think that there is some real movement here.
Not that I want to talk about movement and diapers
in the same sentence, but I mean, I think that
as things become more normal like this, it's going to

be less like every single single dad is a hero
and every single single mom is you know, somebody.

Speaker 1 (47:40):
To be pitied. I think there.

Speaker 6 (47:41):
I think we're going to see over the next maybe
I'll be dead, but over the course of several generations,
we're going to see like more acceptance of just people
being people.

Speaker 1 (47:51):

Speaker 5 (47:52):
I mean, again, the most striking difference between researching for
this episode and researching for the single moms. That so
is that the legacy of the unw mother goes so
far back in time, and for this one, we had
to do some digging and right on back to nineteen
seventy two. I mean there's some stuff before that, but

it's mostly like just the panic of even the idea
of men raising kids. So Happy Father's Day, though, happy
related Father's Day to all the single and not single
dads out there. We're very much pro single fathers, and yeah,
I'm looking forward to seeing how this trend continues to develop.

But now single dads and folks who are being raised
or have been raised by single dads, we especially want
to hear from you on this topic.

Speaker 1 (48:46):
Mom Stuff at houstuffworks.

Speaker 5 (48:48):
Dot com is our new email address, or you can
also tweet us at mom Stuff Podcast or send us
a message over on Facebook. And we've got a couple
messages to share with you right now. So I've got
a letter here from Brenda in response to our episode.

Speaker 1 (49:08):
The Widowhood Effect.

Speaker 5 (49:09):
She writes, in two thousand and eight, I lost my
husband Kevin to a rare cancer.

Speaker 1 (49:14):
I was twenty four and he was thirty six.

Speaker 5 (49:16):
It was devastating and I felt completely alone and abandoned.
We had been married only a year and a half
and had gone through so much together, a long distance
relationship with me in Pennsylvania and him in Manitoba, US immigration,
financial woes, and just when we were getting on our feet,
the cancer hit. It was all so very fast, and
I felt like an outcast.

Speaker 1 (49:37):
I knew no young widows. They were all my grandmother's age.

Speaker 5 (49:40):
This past March, I released my first book titled EBB
from the Shoreline, Finding Cancer and Courage, about our love
and cancer story. I want others impacted by cancer and
caregivers to find hope in these big.

Speaker 1 (49:51):
Struggles of life.

Speaker 5 (49:53):
There's also one organization in particular that has helped me
immensely in my loss, Soaring Spirits International, which host Camp Widow.
I've spoken at several of their camps on blogging through grief,
traveling alone, and also offer writing intensives.

Speaker 1 (50:08):
Connecting with widows in person.

Speaker 5 (50:10):
At their camps has been crucial in my healing process,
so I just wanted to share that information for any
widows that might be listening.

Speaker 1 (50:18):
Again. That's called Soaring Spirits International.

Speaker 5 (50:22):
Which hosts Camp Widow. And thanks so much for writing
Brenda Well I.

Speaker 6 (50:26):
Have a letter here from Emily that's actually responding to
a couple of different episodes we did.

Speaker 1 (50:32):
She said, I.

Speaker 6 (50:33):
Had to take a moment from drawing backgrounds for Animation
to send us email. It seems crazy how relevant some
of your recent podcasts have been in my life. I
used to work as a game tester for Disney Interactive.
While I was there, the girls on the floor were
very small in numbers, but all of the higher up
jobs were held by strong, amazing women. I had the
pleasure of meeting one of Disney Animation's legends, Floyd Norman.

He was one of the first black artists to work
in Disney.

Speaker 1 (50:58):
He knew Walt Disney.

Speaker 6 (50:59):
Personally, and I heard stories from him and honestly made
me rethink Walt Disney being racist or sexist. I feel
nerd ashamed for not being aware of any of the
other women at Disney you name.

Speaker 1 (51:08):
Besides Mary Blair.

Speaker 6 (51:10):
I work at a small animation studio right now and
do comic book work on the side. I'm not a
member of the union, so that could account for low numbers.
I've never really taken my gender into consideration.

Speaker 1 (51:19):
I just do what I love. When it comes to
the job of animation.

Speaker 6 (51:22):
It seems most of the time jobs get called animation,
whether they're actually more.

Speaker 1 (51:26):
Like background art or storyboarding.

Speaker 6 (51:28):
Also, when I was at Cartoon Network, my producer was
a woman and went on to basically run the studio
that makes Robot Chicken. So there's a plus for women
in animation. With my comic work, personally, I've never experienced sexism.

Speaker 5 (51:39):
In fact, I've got nothing but respect. I'm sure that's
not always the case. For one thing, I never dress
up in cosplay personally, I see it as unprofessional for
an artist to do. So I thought I might recommend
a few very feminist friendly comics.

Speaker 1 (51:52):
To name a few off the top.

Speaker 6 (51:53):
Of my head, Strangers in Paradise by Terry Moore, Saga
by Brian kay Vaughn, pretty much Anything by Greg Recca,
and Well Sandmanned by Neil Game.

Speaker 5 (52:03):
And of course, so thank you so much, Emily. It's
incredible how much your life is falling.

Speaker 1 (52:08):
Into line with our podcast.

Speaker 5 (52:09):
Yes, sounds like we are psychically podcastically connected, and to
get podcastically connected with us, so you can find all
of our social media links, all of our blog posts, videos,
and all five hundred plus podcast episodes over at stuff
mom Never told You dot com. For more on this

and thousands of other topics, visit houstuffworks dot com.

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