Are Solo and Absent Dads More Alike or Different?

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If I were to ask you whether dads who raise their children without a spouse or partner are more alike or different from dads who live apart from any of their children, what would you say?

According to a U.S. Census Bureau survey conducted in 2014, they’re more alike.

Before we get to the details of their similarities, let me clarify some terms.

A “solo dad” is not synonymous with a “single dad.” A solo dad is a type of single dad who raises a minor child alone.  An “absent dad” is one who doesn’t live with any of his minor children.

The ways in which solo and absent dads are more alike than different rests on data from an analysis of the Survey of Income and Program Participation that compared them to the entire population of all dads with minor children. (There are 121 million men in the U.S. who are dads.) Here’s how they’re more alike.

  • Nearly 30% of solo and absent dads were never married compared to only 14% of all dads.
  • 22% of solo dads and 24% of absent dads lived with at least one of their parents compared to only 10% of all dads.
  • Nearly 25% of solo and absent dads had children with more than one mother compared to only 16% of all dads.
  • About 5% of solo and 7% absent dads were married but their spouse lived somewhere else compared to less than 2% of all dads.
  • More than half of solo dads (51%) and nearly a third of absent dads (30%) were divorced compared to only 10% of all dads.
  • Solo and absent dads were less likely to be college graduates than were all dads.
  • Solo and absent dads were less likely to be employed than were all dads.
  • Solo and absent dads had fewer children than did all dads.

Why does it matter that these types of dads are more alike than different?

If you serve solo and absent dads, you might assume that they’re more different than alike. As a result, you might overlook their similarities and miss opportunities to provide these dads with the help they need, such as how to navigate relationships with more than one mother of their children and how these two types of dads could help and support one another.

Before reading this post, had you heard the term “solo dad?” If so, did you think it synonymous with “single dad?”

Do you serve solo and absent dads? If so, do you have anything in place that encourages them to help and support one another based on their similarities?

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