This Father's Day, more than one quarter of all children in the United States will live in homes without fathers. Even this statistic masks the epidemic of fatherless children in America, however, since many children in two-parent households live with stepfathers instead of their own. Who's responsible for the burgeoning rate of fatherless families? It's been popular in recent years to blame negligent men for abandoning their children, but a recent federally funded report by Child Trends suggests that women may be more of the problem than men.
Most Americans agree that children are better off being raised in two-parent families -- and with good reason. Children raised in single-mother households are more likely to do poorly in school and are twice as likely to drop out of school or become parents themselves while teenagers. Nonetheless, significantly more women than men believe that one parent can raise a child successfully, according to the Child Trends report. Overall, 42 percent of women, but only 26 percent of men, said that "one parent can bring up a child as well as two parents together." A far greater number of black women said that single parents were as good as two parents in raising children -- 64 percent. Not surprisingly, this is roughly the same percentage of the black population that is now born to single mothers.
Women also appear less likely to stay married "for the sake of the children" than men. While attitudes toward divorce have become increasingly tolerant since the 1960s -- along with skyrocketing divorce rates over the same period -- fewer women than men believe "when there are children in the family, parents should stay together even if they don't get along," according to the study. Only 12 percent of women, compared with 20 percent of men, said they agreed with the statement, while nearly half of both men and women said that "Divorce is usually the best solution when a couple can't seem to work out their marriage problems."
Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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