Since there are terms describing children born during some periods, like millennials, or with some ethnicities, like African American, or how long they've stayed in the US, like first generation immigrant, or those who have experienced a lot, like a third culture kid. Is there a term for children raised in a single parent household? I know there are single parent, single mom, single dad, how about the children?

  • 1
    Sadly, "disadvantaged" comes to mind.
    – BillJ
    Mar 27, 2018 at 7:43

2 Answers 2


You can simply say single-parent children or single-parented children:

  1. The single-parented child has become a focal point of attention for many educators (https://scholarworks.wmich.edu/dissertations/2222/).
  2. Single-parent children behavior... (https://www.privatewriting.com/blog/single-parent-children-behavior).

An orphan is someone whose parents have died; when the responsibility of nurturing a child is borne by a single parent it could be said that the child is either motherless or fatherless, although many would presume that he or she is orphaned of a parent. The expression is used by an author whose biological father had not deceased

My mother got full custody of me, and I later learned that my father had a habit of driving to St. Louis, then up and down my grandparents’ street, hoping to see me. My grandmother was adamant—she sent him away. I remember his arriving only one time. Perhaps I was seven. I was happy to see him, …. I sat on his lap on the front porch of my grandparents’ house for a bit while he chatted with my grandfather in the other chair. ….

As the years went by, I stopped listening to stories about my father, stopped paying attention to the murmurs of compassion for me as a fatherless girl. I took my uncle to father-daughter night at school, and I viewed the fathers of my friends with some skepticism—….

My Absent Father
By Jane Smiley, October 3, 2014

The formal equivalents would be maternal orphan, and paternal orphan. If a child never sees a parent, even if he or she is alive, that child to all intents and purposes is a half-orphan. A writer might prefer this term for its emotional impact on the reader. Whereas an adult might arrive at this logical conclusion after a dispassionate analysis.

An absent father or absent mother is a biological parent who is still alive but sporadically or rarely participates in their child's life.

Absent parents
Parenting can be a little more challenging when there isn’t another parent around to help you share the load. This can be because of a variety of reasons, perhaps the absent parent has died, is in prison, or lives in another country or you don’t know where the father is.


  • All the sources I looked at for 'half-orphan' specified that one parent be dead, do you have a source to back up its use for where the parent is alive, but absent? It's difficult to see how the term can be other than misleading and potentially offensive if use to describe people whose parents merely live apart.
    – Spagirl
    Mar 27, 2018 at 10:03
  • @Spagirl I specifically said if the child never sees a parent for all intents and purposes that child is a half-orphan. I provided "absent father/mother" in the scenario when a biological parent is alive but does not participate regularly in their child's life.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 27, 2018 at 10:06
  • Declaring a living parent 'effectively dead to you' is an extremely personal statement/action from any child who has a living parent they don't see for whatever reason. It may be reasonable to use the term with regard to a child who you know has made that statement, but otherwise it would risk treading into very sensitive territory. I think it is an unfortunate inclusion in an otherwise useful and backed-up answer.
    – Spagirl
    Mar 27, 2018 at 10:14
  • Whoever said, "effectively dead to you"? Where did I say that? I'm merely pointing out a fact. Growing with only one parent, and one parent only is like being a half-orphan. A single-parented child can grow with two parents who are both involved in their life, but that child lives with only one parent. That answer was supplied by Enguroo. My answer covers the instances when one parent is "missing" either permanently or frequently.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 27, 2018 at 10:20
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    I din't intend to imply you said it. My understanding was that if a non-orphan-in-any-degree-child is for 'all intents and purposes' a half-orphan, then that child must regard themself as such, and if they don't then it would be horrible and confusing for them to be described that way and misleading for others hearing the term used who may make unwarranted assumptions. The OP is asking for words to use about people, people may have a response to the words used to describe them and that should be considered in recommending terms. This one may well be offensive.
    – Spagirl
    Mar 27, 2018 at 10:31

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