Chapter four explores the importance of, and relationship between, family formation, or ‘breakdown’ and lone parenthood in the context of childhood poverty. Few subjects excite the public and political imagination quite as much as the issue of lone parents. It is an area with strong connections to poverty, disadvantage, gendered inequalities, and the supposed breaching of normative values and expectations. I engage with myths and assumptions about lone parents and reveal the corrosive effect of demonising lone-parent family life on children’s lives and wellbeing. I show that relationships are dynamic, that lone parents are not a homogenous group, that a large proportion of children will spend time in a lone parent formation, and that how a government responds to lone parents in policy terms directly relates to how impoverished their children will be. This chapter also discusses how poverty and emotional mal-being are not inevitable consequences of separation and divorce. The role of separated fathers in lone parent families, particularly their financial contribution and involvement in their children’s lives, are explored.
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