Father's Day is a yearly celebration in June, a tradition with which we are all familiar. It is customary for many to share a delightful meal with their fathers, indulging in playful interactions with children or grandchildren.
However, have we spared a thought for single fathers? This Father's Day, my aim is to spotlight those fathers who, though separated from their spouses, remain the primary caregivers for their children.
These are the fathers who shoulder dual responsibilities - earning a living and nurturing their children, on top of managing household chores. Society often overlooks these fathers. While single mothers also face similar struggles, society tends to regard them with more sympathy, often acknowledging their challenges more readily.
The condition of these fathers remains an area of concern. Are they receiving adequate rest? Are they getting the emotional support they need, alongside the crucial financial backing? Regrettably, we do not have substantial knowledge about their situation, as they often remain unnoticed.
What we can ascertain is their disproportionately high mortality rate. According to a study published in The Lancet, mortality among single fathers (5.8 per 1000 person-years) was found to be three times higher than single mothers (1.74 per 1000 person-years) and partnered fathers.
The question arises - why is their mortality rate 3 times higher? The study did not definitively identify the reasons, underscoring the need for further research in this field.
However, many hypothesize that the social stigma attached to the mother's role as the primary caregiver could be a contributing factor. For instance, our workplaces seldom consider the specific needs of single fathers caring for their children. If a man requests time off to attend to a sick child, the response he receives may differ from that of a woman making a similar request. Furthermore, men often refrain from expressing the hardships of single parenthood due to societal pressures labeling such disclosure as a sign of weakness in men.
Additional factors are attributed to the diminished mental health of single fathers. Research conducted in South Korea revealed that single fathers exhibited a lower quality of life (OR 7.30, 95% CI 2.82-18.74), increased symptoms of depression (OR 3.85, 95% CI 1.29-11.45), and heightened stress levels. These aspects could potentially contribute to their life expectancy being three times shorter.
It is incumbent upon us to challenge these perceptions and show greater understanding and compassion toward single fathers striving to balance household responsibilities, child-rearing, and providing for their families. Like everyone else, they need support but often lack knowledge about where to seek it.
Therefore, as we celebrate Father's Day this year, let's be mindful and appreciative of all fathers - including single fathers, who often shoulder enormous responsibilities single-handedly.
Happy Father’s Day to all.
The Lancet Public Health. Single fathers: neglected, growing, and important. Lancet Public Health. 2018 Mar;3(3):e100. doi: 10.1016/S2468-2667(18)30032-X. PMID: 29519696.
Chiu M, Rahman F, Vigod S, Lau C, Cairney J, Kurdyak P. Mortality in single fathers compared with single mothers and partnered parents: a population-based cohort study. Lancet Public Health. 2018 Mar;3(3):e115-e123. doi: 10.1016/S2468-2667(18)30003-3. Epub 2018 Feb 15. Erratum in: Lancet Public Health. 2018 Mar 5;: PMID: 29454821.
Kong KA, Kim SI. Mental health of single fathers living in an urban community in South Korea. Compr Psychiatry. 2015 Jan;56:188-97. doi: 10.1016/j.comppsych.2014.09.012. Epub 2014 Sep 19. PMID: 25281990.