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Melissa A. Featherston

Divorced dads taking an ever-increasing active role with kids

In Missouri and throughout the United States, a family with a married mother and father who live together is becoming increasingly less common. When parents divorce, many people assume that the children will be raised primarily by their mothers, with only visits or secondary involvement from the fathers. But statistics and recent trends show that this is not necessarily true.

Many divorced men these days are actually the primary caregivers to their children. In fact, according to the last Census, there are now about 1.8 million single fathers in the United States. Of those, almost two-thirds are divorced or separated. As fathers' rights have become more acceptable to discuss and gender roles shift, many dads are taking on roles they wouldn't have been able to a generation ago.

However, the attitudes of many people toward divorced fathers have not caught up to reality. Frequently it's assumed that if two parents are divorced, the father must have been a womanizer or a deadbeat dad. Some women--even without realizing, one author says--think in terms of "allowing" their kids' father to be a presence in their lives. This is doubly detrimental to the father, because if he then doesn't play a big role raising the kids, he gets blamed for not being active enough.

As one dad points out, the language and attitudes around divorced fathers still must be adjusted. For dads who want to be involved, when a marriage ends, the family needs to be divided into two families--not one family with a visiting, and therefore absent, father.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Fathers: Equal In Marriage But Not In Divorce?," Vicki Larson, Dec. 14, 2011

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