Single Parent Families and New Social Patterns

Single Parent Families and New  Social Patterns
Single Parent Families and New  Social Patterns

The phenomenon of “single parent families” is the emerging trend in contemporary Iranian society, says Ali Akbar Mahzoon, chairman of the Information and Statistics Department at the National Organization for Civil Registration.

Single parent family may be defined as “a family comprising of a single mother or father having dependent children.” Such a family is created in a number of ways: death of one parent, divorce, separation and desertion.

At present, nearly 7% of families are facing the situation in the country which indicates an increasing trend compared to the past decades, Alef News Agency reported.

Over the past two decades, one-parent families have become a common feature undermining the concept of the “nuclear family” comprising mother, father and children, and the near extinction of the joint family system. Today, there are all types of single parent families: headed by mothers, fathers, or a grandparent raising grandchildren. Statistics show that 61% of families are nuclear families, 14.6% are couples only and 3.84% are extended families (where many generations live together).

Mahzoun said that single families were 5.2% in 2006, but as per the latest statistics it has now reached 7.1%. Life in a single parent household can be quite stressful for adults and children alike. Members may unrealistically expect the family to function like a two-parent family. The single parent may also feel overwhelmed by the responsibility of juggling with child care, maintaining a job and keeping up with bills and household chores. Typically, a family’s finances and resources are drastically reduced following the breakup of a couple.

 Social Changes

Nearly 12% of families in Iran are headed by single mothers who number 2.5 million. Among them, 31% are below 50 years of age and 69% above 50.

The new trend in the family institution today is the result of “cohabitation or white marriage,” divorce and delayed marriage and fertility. The multiplicity of new family forms is emerging in response to shifting demographics, economic and social constraints.

Mahzoun pointed to statistics in the first six months of this year (started March 21) and said while there is a 2.7% increase in registered marriages compared to the same period last year, the divorce rates had also gone up. Of the 368,205 marriages, 303,675 were in urban and 64,530 in rural areas.

He necessitated a close analysis and study of different dimensions of the new changes occurring in marriage to make better decisions and effective strategies to support and address new types of family problems in contemporary family life.