I was just wondering if there was a word for when a parent has to act as a mother and father to a child either because the parent is single and the other parent is absent from the child's life. Thank you!

closed as off-topic by k1eran, Drew, Scott, Helmar, Chenmunka Sep 26 '16 at 12:16

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    He or she is a single-parent. – k1eran Sep 26 '16 at 0:20
  • Hello and welcome to EL&U. In your question, you use the construct either ... and. It's normally rendered either ... or - did you intend that "single" and "absent" were the alternatives, or is there a missing alternative in your question? – Lawrence Sep 26 '16 at 1:12
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    Define "act as mother" and "act as father", including how you think they differ. – Drew Sep 26 '16 at 1:38
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    This is a potentially touchy subject. Some families have two parents of the same gender. They might take issue with the implicit assumption that there are two distinct parental roles to be played. – Kevin Sep 26 '16 at 3:12

Single-parent will do in this case.

Single parent noun A person bringing up a child or children without a partner. - ODO

  • Hello and welcome. You seem to be new here, based on your rep count. I wasn't the down-voter, but thought I'd mention that Stack Exchange is about building a repository of expert answers to questions within the topics of interest to its various communities. As such, answers are usually expected to be supported by logical argument, references and/or usage examples. They don't need to be complicated; the idea is for answers to be independently verifiable. I've added a dictionary entry for you. – Lawrence Sep 26 '16 at 1:05
  • In the case of this question, consider also the second part to the OP's description. When the other parent is absent from the child's life but the parent isn't single (I'm reading the 'and' in the question as a typo for an 'or' because of the earlier 'either'), single parent doesn't seem to fit. – Lawrence Sep 26 '16 at 1:09

There are two ways to do this. One is single parent, as Nach contributed, although I would not use a hyphen -- in the U.S. at least.

The other way is like this:

My wife died young and left me with three motherless girls. It was hard. I had to be both mother and father to them.

When you choose this approach, it is most common to use it as in my example, with "had to be".

Note that the other, non-participating parent need not have died for this phrase to be used.

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