The Changing Face of Fathers

Single Dads Are On the Rise and They're Doing More

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Jim Welch, Editor at The Hartford Courant who also blogs for
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Jess Maghan, Author of "40 Fathers"
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Tom Condon, Columnist for the Hartford Courant
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The Changing Face of Fathers
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The Changing Face of Fathers

Today, we’re talking about the changing face of fatherhood.

While the birth of most children don’t get as much attention as the arrival of the royal baby, many of us already know what Prince William has yet to learn, this is just the start.

Of course, he’ll have a little help raising his young son--something a lot of dads don’t have. A recent series of reports from the Pew Center on Social and Demographic Trends say that in the United States, single father households are rising.

The number of homes headed by single dads has risen from less than 300,000 in 1960 to more than 2.6 million in 2011. And, while 41% of Americans still think dad should provide financially for his family, 58% of Americans say it’s more important for dad to provide emotional support and teach good morals.

The study shows dads are a lot more involved in their kids’ lives, but that a lot more are absent.

Today, we're talking about fatherhood and what it means to be a dad today.

Share your experiences. How are you different from your dad?

You can leave your comments below, email us at or tweet us @wherewelive.



Jack writes:

I am interested in the economics of split families. How do single parent families share the costs of child rearing? For example, I recall a study 10 years ago that reported that 75% of divorced fathers never paid their child support and alimony. Is this true today?

Fred writes:

"Yeah another tip: Keep friends with GREAT Moms......too. Because I was involved with the kids at school, I got to know / became friends with lots of great Moms !"

Deborah writes:

My husband is a retired submarine captain and, as such, was gone from home for extended periods, almost half of our married life. He couldn't even communicate with us during that time; on our end, we were allowed one family-gram a month (originally 18 words, eventually 38) that everyone in the fleet could read. If he was gone for a six-month or nine-month deployment, we might get one or two very expensive phone calls from a foreign port. (Today's submariners use e-mail, although there are restricted times when no communication is allowed for security reasons.)

Despite his absences and long work hours when on shore, my husband was always present in my daughters' lives. They knew he loved them more than life itself. When he was home, he was all theirs. Our neighbors used to say that George was either at home, at church, or on the boat. My daughters always knew they came first; he made me a promise at the start of our marriage that if he ever felt our family was at peril because of his career, he would leave the Navy. He would tape bedtime stories before he left and the girls would wear the tapes out just to hear his voice. He hid little presents around the house for us to discover throughout the long deployments. (Once he hid a necklace for me deep in a pile of towels; I never found it because I just kept washing the top five towels over and over.) He had flowers delivered every two weeks, and for every birthday or special occasion. George also wrote a series of letters before he left, sometimes just a paragraph or two, and left them with the chaplain to mail us twice a week. Even though we knew he'd written them while he was still home, the girls couldn't wait to check the mailbox. Before he left he would make sure the car and the house were in good shape, and he made sure we had a circle of friends, neighbors, and church family to be there for us in his absence. Even though it was Mom on the bleachers at most of the games, the girls knew that Dad would rather have been there.

When he was home, George pitched in on cleaning, cooking, ferrying kids, bedtime stories, and whatever needed to be done. He was a Navy captain, and he exhibited servant leadership at home as well as on the boat. He knew the most effective way to lead his family or his sailors was to get behind them, be a good example of integrity, and help them achieve their best.

The hardest thing for me was to watch him the night before he left on deployment. He always teared up as he kissed the girls goodnight. George may not have been home during a lot of our daughters' growing-up years, but he was always there for them in spirit and in love. They are the strong, brilliant, loving women they are today because of his sterling example and deep love. Today, he likes nothing more that to play with his grandchildren, help his middle daughter fence a garden, or work on our youngest daughter's house with her. The first thing he asks when he comes home from work is whether or not I have heard from one of the girls during the day. The best thing I ever did for my daughters was to marry George.