By Julie Garrison
Special to DadsDivorce.com
There are more than three times as many single-mom households (12.7 million) as there are single-dad households (4 million), according to the U.S. Census.
Unfortunately, divorced dads raising children as a single-parent household have a difficult row to hoe.
This is because the phenomenon of divorced dads as custodial parents is still in the trailblazing phase.
Traditionally, in child custody arrangements, the mother has received physical custody of the children seemingly by default – whether or not she was better suited to carry out the job.
There were even instances of a drug-addicted mother being awarded physical custody of the children, on the stipulation that she would complete a drug rehab program first because it was “always in the children’s best interests” to be raised primarily by their mother.
But beneath the slow, liberalization of the traditional family and other patriarchal norms and institutions, there emerges a new breed of dads as custodial parents.
Who is Most Suited to Parent?
There are moms who work and raise their children, and there are dads who work and raise their children. There always have been.
But dads with primary child custody have always been considered an inferior custody option to mothers with physical custody. It used to be thought that women had better “instincts” than men because men didn’t “bond” with babies in the womb. But there is no scientific data to back this up.
The Legal Position
The traditional legal position is that children, especially those age five and under, do better with Mom as the primary custodial parent. But this long-standing “Tender Years Doctrine” is now coming under fire because it is more of a default position than an empirical truth. Men are just as predisposed to provide nurturing care as women are. It is ludicrous to think otherwise.
While many traditionalists look at dads with child custody as anomalies, more and more dads are proving that men can do more than generate income and coach baseball. In fact, these pioneering men are making way for the dads of the future. Why can’t a dad do what a mom does? He may have not been socialized in the nurturing dad role, but he can certainly figure it out.
Pay close attention to these dads who are bucking the tide. Even though generational attitudes are still floating in the murky water, these men are bravely swimming against the current.
With today’s divorce rates at over 50 percent for first marriages and becoming exponentially higher for subsequent marriages, there will be more and more future dads with primary physical custody of their children.
I tip my hat to these intrepid men who are slogging their way through the antiquated attitudes of the courtroom and society-at-large to prove the obvious – that men can parent every bit as well as women.
Julie Garrison has been writing articles and short stories for the past 10 years and has appeared in several magazines and e-zines.