There are over 14 million single parents in the United States

March 21st Is National Single Parent Day

For over 14 million families in the United States, March 21st of every year is a special day. Not because it’s the official start of spring in the northern hemisphere, but because it is National Single Parent Day.

History of National Single Parent Day

National Single Parent Day was established in 1984 for the very first time by President Ronald Reagan. On March 21, 1984, President Reagan issued Proclamation 5166, which in conjunction with House Joint Resolution 200, designated March 21 as National Single Parent Day.

Proclamation 5166 recognized that single parents in America undergo very trying conditions while raising their children.

“Whether it is a deserted spouse forced to work and care for children simultaneously, or a spouse who is not receiving child support that has been awarded by a court, or an unwed mother who has bravely foregone the all-too-available option of abortion, or a widow or widower, single parents deserve our recognition and appreciation for their demonstrated dedication to their young.”

The Proclamation finishes with President Reagan calling on everyone to “recognize the contributions single parents are making, sometimes under great hardships, to the lives of their children…and ask that they volunteer their help, privately or through community organizations, to single parents who seek it to meet their aspirations for their children.”

Single Parents in the United States

According to a report issued by the United States Census Bureau in 2016, there are an estimated 13.4 million single parents in the United States. The vast majority of single parents are single moms, but 17.5 percent are single dads.

Contrary to the myth perpetrated by modern reality television shows, only about 40 percent of single mothers have never been married. Roughly 31 percent of single mothers are divorced, 16 percent are still married, 12 percent are separated, and 1 percent are widows.

On the other hand, single fathers are much less likely to never have been married. Only 28.2 percent of single fathers fell into that category, while 45 percent are divorced. Fifteen percent were still married, 10 percent were separated, and just under 1 percent were widowers.

The age of single mothers over the past 20 years has steadily been increasing. In 1994, only about one-fourth of all single mothers were 40 years old or older. In contrast, by 2014, that percentage had grown to almost 40 percent.

Famous Single Parents and Children of Single Parents

Single parenthood isn’t just something that happens to ordinary people. There are many famous single parents, both dads and mothers. For example, Liam Neeson is a single dad to his two sons, Micheal and Daniel. He became a single dad after Natasha Richardson, his wife, died in 2009 because of a skiing accident.

Single parents are predominantly female, but 1-in-6 single parents are fathers.
Liam Neeson has been a single father since 2009. [Image by Mike Groll/AP Images]

Other famous dads include Usher, who has full custody of his sons Naviyd Ely, and Usher “Cinco,” since his divorce from Tameka Foster in 2012. Pro soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo is a single dad whose son, Cristiano, was born in 2010. The identity of the child’s mother was never publicly released. Another very famous single father is Charles, Prince of Wales. After Princess Diana passed away in a tragic auto accident in 1997, he became the sole parent of Prince Harry and Prince William.

Famous single moms are also well represented among the Hollywood elite. Michelle Williams is a single mother to her daughter, Matilda. Matilda’s father was Heath Ledger, who died of a drug overdose in 2008. Charlize Theron became a single mother in 2012 after adopting her son Jackson from South Africa. Another famous mom is Taraji P. Henson, the Golden Globe-winning actress in Empire. Taraji became a single mother after her high school sweetheart was murdered in 2003.

Single Parent Day was established in 1984 by President Ronald Reagan
Michelle Williams and Heath Ledger welcomed their daughter, Matilda, in 2005, three years before his untimely death from an overdose. [Image by Steve Holland/AP Images File]

Single parents have also left a lasting mark on the world through their children. Some of our most beloved entertainers were raised by single parents. Bono, Hugh Jackman, Kanye West, and even President Barack Obama were raised by single moms and dads. So, on March 21, if you know a single parent (and chances are that you do), give them a high five and let them know how awesome they are.

[Featured Image by Chinnapong/Shutterstock]