The face of family in America has changed dramatically over the last decades.
The face of family in America has changed dramatically over the last several decades. Single motherhood is on the decline, but not for reasons that you might think.


It's safe to say that the concept of a "traditional family" has shifted significantly in the last half-century. While fifty years ago a child with divorced or unmarried parents was an anomaly, today is surrounded by peers with similar diverse family situations.

Today, 25% of parents living with a child in the United States are unmarried, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. Compared to 1968 this is a significant increase when then, only 7% of parents living with their children were unmarried. The uptick in unmarried parents who are cohabitating has created an interesting side-effect: the number of mothers raising their children by themselves has declined.

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An increasing number of parents have decided to cohabitate. According to the research, 35% of unmarried parents live with a partner. The profile of cohabitating parents tends to lean towards younger and less educated individuals. More, they are less likely to have ever been married compared to single parents, according to the report.

In the past, solo mothers or those who are raising children without a spouse or partner in the home were more common. In fact, in 1968, 88% of unmarried parents were single parents. Today, however, only 53% of unmarried parents are solo mothers. Solo fathers make up the remaining 12% of unmarried parents.

The Pew research predicts that the number of children growing up with an unmarried parent is expected to increase. The declining stability of families is linked to the increases in both divorce and cohabitating relationships. According to the research, cohabitating relationships tend to be less long-lasting than marriages.

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As single parents do not have a partner at home to share parenting responsibilities with, many tend to live with their own parents. In fact, nearly a quarter of single parents reside with one of their parents. This trend is particularly common with solo fathers, with 31% living with their own parent. In comparison, only 4% of married parents or cohabitating parents live with one of their own parents.

While unmarried parenthood has grown increasingly common, acceptance of the lifestyle has not. Citing 2015 data, the Pew Research Center says that the trend towards more unmarried couples raising children is predominantly seen as harmful to society.

While not everyone views single parenthood and cohabitation as negative, those who are more educated, wealthy, and who lean more politically-conservative tend to hold those beliefs. In fact, two-thirds of those surveyed said single mothers were "bad for society," and nearly half said unmarried parents have a negative impact as well.