Gretchen Livingston, Senior Researcher at the Pew Hispanic Center
Marshal Willick, Family Law Attorney
Mark Baxter, Chiropractor and Founder of the Baxter Health Center, single father
Eric Kosel, single father
BY MARIE ANDRUSEWICZ -- According to a study by the Pew Charitable Trust, households headed by single fathers are on the rise, now comprising eight percent of homes with minors compared to 1960, when it was just one percent. And census data shows that Nevada has one of the highest rates for single father households in the U.S.
Numbers of these households are increasing, but are attitudes towards single dads following suit?
“Social mores have changed a bit,” says Mark Baxter, a chiropractor and single father since 1984. “It used to be that the woman’s role is in the home and the man’s role was at work. Those roles have changed over time to be much more flexible.”
Gretchen Livingston, who conducted the Pew Study, says it’s not just single fathers that are taking a greater role in parenting, but married fathers as well.
“In the mid 60s, dads in general spent about 2.5 hours a week with their kids. Now that number is up to seven hours a week. Now that’s still a lot less hours than moms spend with their kids, but that’s also a huge increase in the amount of time dad’s are spending with their kids. We see this as reflecting the fact that dads aren’t breadwinners anymore, but they’re also seen more as caregivers,” says Livingston.
Livingston adds that providing money isn’t even seen as the most important role of a parent. She says a recent survey by Pew that measured the importance of four things that parents traditionally provide – income, emotional support, discipline and morals and values – a paycheck was ranked at the bottom of the list for both mothers and fathers.
Marshal Willick, a family law attorney, says judges are growing increasingly gender blind during custody cases as well.
“Is there a subjective quality to the individuals involved that can seem unfair to a participant in a particular case? Sure,” says Willick. “Overall in our courts today our judges are highly sensitive to the needs of both parents and there is no pervasive genderic preference given in either direction.”