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As numbers grow, single dads still face skeptics

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John Williams is raising two kids alone. U.S. census figures show the number of single dads has grown 60 percent over the last 10 years  


From Dr. Sanjay Gupta
CNN Medical Unit

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- In many ways, John Williams is a typical 29-year-old. He plays with his children, loves sports and is even handy in the kitchen.

What makes him unique is he's raising two kids, alone.

"It's awesome," said Williams, who received "Father of the Year" honors Friday from an Atlanta clergy group. "It has its good days and its bad days, but to see their happiness, it's just priceless."

But there is a price -- a physical one. After working a full day, Williams, who is divorced and says he has primary custody, rushes home to play full-time dad and mom.

"Sometimes it gets tiring, like today I had a long day, and then there's homework and I have to prepare stuff," he said. "I cook, I clean, I do the mom things."

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The children visit their mother, who lives in another state, on holidays and during the summer. Still, they pay an emotional price.

"Well, it feels like something's lost inside, and that something is my mom," said Justin, who is 10. "It's very hard for them and us."

Still outnumbered, but growing

While single moms outnumber single dads nine to one, U.S. census figures show the number of single dads has grown 60 percent over the last 10 years. Even so, many people still question the success of single-father households.

"These dads are put in a no man's land," said Geoffrey Greif, associate dean at the University of Maryland School of Social Work. "People think they're extraordinary people because they're raising their kids and they're so involved, but at the same time people look at them and assume they can't do it alone."

Some also assume the children will grow up troubled. But while the prevalence of delinquent children is higher among divorced parents, Greif, author of "The Daddy Track and the Single Father," sees some positives.

"My research says over time these young children, as they grown up to be adults, are more apt to play a hands-on involved role in the family than are children that are raised in a more traditional setting," he said.

It's important in that situation to preserve the parent-child relationship, Greif said.

"What children need is a father, not a friend," he said. "They can find their friends elsewhere, but they only have one father."





RELATED STORIES:
RELATED SITES:
• National Fatherhood Initiative
• U.S. Department of Health & Human Services: Fatherhood Initiative
• The Fatherhood Project

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