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Keywords:

  • childhood;
  • children;
  • early childhood;
  • single-parent families

Research on family structure has led some to claim that sex-based parenting differences exist. But if such differences exist in single-parent families, the absence of a second parent rather than specific sex-typed parenting might explain them. We examine differences in mothering and fathering behavior in single-parent households, where number of parents is held constant, and we describe individualist and structuralist perspectives for potential sex-based parenting behaviors. We compare 3,202 single mothers and 307 single fathers in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (Kindergarten Cohort). Results suggest that, although there are small differences in the parenting behaviors of single mothers and single fathers, differences are sensitive to demographic disparities and do not translate to academic deficits for children in either family type.