AskDefine | Define fatherless

Dictionary Definition

fatherless adj
1 having no living father
2 not having a known or legally responsible father

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. Without a living father.


See also

Extensive Definition

A single parent (also lone parent and sole parent) is a parent who cares for one or more children without the assistance of another parent in the home. The legal definition of "single parenthood" may vary according to the local laws of different nations or regions.
Single parenthood may occur for a variety of reasons. It could be opted for by the parent (as in divorce, adoption, artificial insemination, surrogate motherhood, or extramarital pregnancy), or be the result of an unforeseeable occurrence (such as death or abandonment by one parent).
The living and parenting arrangements of single parents are diverse. A number live in households with family or other adults. When parents separate, one party usually parents for the majority of the time but most continue to share parenting to some extent with the other parent.
Single parenthood is a stage of life rather than a lifelong family form
In 2003, 14% of all Australian households were single-parent families. Since 2001, 31% of babies born in Australia were born to unmarried mothers. (Many of these mothers may not be single parents, as they may simply live with their supportive partners without getting formally married.)
In the United Kingdom, there are 1.9 million single parents as of 2005, with 3.1 million children. About 1 out of 4 families with dependent children are single-parent families. According to a survey done by the United Kingdom, 9% of single parents in the UK are fathers, and 86% of single parents are white. UK poverty figures show that 47% of single parent families are below the Government-defined poverty line (after housing costs).

Effects of single parenting

Single parent families are at a higher risk of poverty than couple families, and on average single mothers have poorer health than couple mothers .
Single parenting is strongly associated with an increased risk of a number of negative social, behavioral and emotional outcomes for children. However while the association is strong, on balance the effect size and the actual numbers effected is modest. Most children from single parent families do well. Many factors influence how children develop in single-parent families: the parent's age, education level, and occupation; the family's income; and the family's support network of friends and extended family members (including the non-resident parent, if available). Disadvantages in these factors that often accompany single parenting appear to cause most of this association rather than single parenting itself .
Shocking headlines do get published; for example a 2003 Swedish study, stated that those living with a single parent were about three times more likely to either kill themselves or end up in the hospital after an attempted suicide by the age of 26 than children living with two parents, however this only happened to 2.2 percent of girls and 1 percent of boys . While such a finding is concerning, clearly the vast majority of the children of single parents do not kill themselves.
A variety of viewpoints do exist, with different readings of the research possible. The Institute for the Study of Civil Society reports that children of single parents, after controlling for other variables like family income, are more likely to have problems . There are impacts of sole parenting on children, however the weight of the evidence does not appear to support a view that sole parents are a major cause of societal ills and are doing irreparable damage to their children

Assistance and help

A common way for single parents to seek and receive help is over the internet by conversing with other single parents in similar situations. There are various websites available, offering discussion forums and helpful advice to those parents who find themselves alone. Other websites help by offering single parents to support each other while also providing highly useful links to various solicitors, counselors and financial advisers in any area of the UK.Only Dads and Only Mums are examples of such websites.
Many western countries have national or local organizations that offer support specifically for single parents and/or lobby the government on their behalf .

By insemination

A woman may voluntarily become a single parent by artificial insemination. In many countries, e.g. Sweden this is prohibited. Swedes, however, may go to Denmark, where it is legal to have an insemination.

Single parents in history, literature, television, films, etc.

There have been several famous single parents who were also actors, vocalists, and politicians. Murphy Brown, one famous fictional character in the sitcom of the same name, was a career woman working in a TV news firm. She became pregnant and had a baby in the comedy series' fourth season. The character's decisions became a nation-wide interest when she was referred to by several US family values-oriented politicians, including then-vice president, Dan Quayle, who openly criticized the show during a 1992 speech in San Francisco.
Other examples include:
  • Porter Ricks (Flipper, 1964-1967; television series)
  • Ellen Miller (Lassie, 1954-1957; television series)
  • Andy Taylor (The Andy Griffith Show, 1960-1968; television series)
  • Hester Prynne (The Scarlet Letter, 1850; book by Nathaniel Hawthorne)
  • Alexia (The Ultimate Gift (film), 2007)
  • Lorelei Gilmore (Gilmore Girls (TV series) )

Public policy debate

Single parents have often been the focus of public policy debate. The debate has included both practical considerations around the role of government in their support, and moral ones in response to the decline of the traditional family. The moral debate tends to divide between liberal and conservative positions with liberals welcoming or accepting the changes in family structures, while conservatives decry the declines in marriage and the rises in divorce and cohabitation. The policy debate also tends to split along similar lines with fiscal conservatives emphasizing a minimal role for government and an employment focus, while liberals tend to support more government involvement in an attempt to minimize poverty.


fatherless in Arabic: الوالد الوحيد
fatherless in German: Alleinerziehende
fatherless in Spanish: Madre soltera
fatherless in Italian: Famiglia monogenitoriale
fatherless in Hebrew: משפחה חד-הורית
fatherless in Serbian: Самохрани родитељ
fatherless in Finnish: Yksinhuoltaja
fatherless in Chinese: 單親家庭

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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