In recent years, there has been a significant increase in single- or one-parent households due to divorce and to births outside of marriage. Even- for a person with
a stable income and a network of friends and family to help with child care, raising a child alone can be an emotional and financial burden. Single-parent households headed by women have been stereotyped by some journalists. politicians. and analysts as being problematic for children. About 42 percent of all white children and 86 percent of all African American children will spend part of their childhood living in a household headed by a single mother who is divorced, separated, never married, or widowed (Garfinkel and Mcl.anahan, 1986). According to sociologists Sara McLuhan and Karen Booth (1991), children from mother-only families are more likely than children in two-parent families to have poor academic achievement, higher school absentee and dropout rates, early marriage and parenthood, higher rates of divorce, and more drug and alcohol abuse. Does living in a oneparent family cause all of this? Certainly not! Many other factors including poverty, discrimination, unsafe neighborhoods, and high crime rates-contribute to these problems. Lesbian mothers and gay fathers are counted in some studies as single parents; however. they often share parenting responsibilities with a same-sex partner. Due to homophobia (hatred and fear of homosexuals and lesbians), lesbian mothers and gay fathers are more likely to lose custody to a heterosexual parent in divorce disputes (Falk, 1989; Robson, 1992). In any case, between one million and three million gay men 'in the United States and Canada are fathers. Some gay men are married natural fathers. others are single gay men, and still others are part of gay couples who have adopted children. Very little r~search exists on gay fathers what research does exist tends to show that noncustodial gay fathers try to maintain good relationships with their children (Bozett, 1988).
Single fathers who do not have custody of their children may play relatively limited role in the lives of those children. Although many remain actively involved in their children's lives, others may become "Disneyland daddies" who take their children to recreational activities and buy them presents for special occasions but have a very small part in their children's day-to-day life. Sometimes, this limited role is by choice, but more often it is caused by workplace demands on time and energy, location of the ex-wife's residence, and limitations placed on visitation by custody arrangements.