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Census: Oklahoma has more Mr. Moms and Ms. Dads raising children

More single parents are raising their children alone in Oklahoma, with single fathers representing the biggest percentage jump of 40 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau
BY SONYA COLBERG Published: July 17, 2011

But other contributing factors may be the state's great single-parent population and Oklahoma's number one ranking in incarceration of women. And single parents also tend to be short on money, thus limiting children's opportunities, said Linda Terrell, Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy executive director.

“I strongly believe that having as many caring adults in the life of a child on a regular basis is critical for everything from early brain development, to socialization, to emotional skill development, to learning how to be in relations with others. ... As a single parent, you have a limited number of caring adults usually in your life,” Terrell said.

Duran said he's thankful that church members have helped fill the gap in support for his family. He said that's something he desperately needed as both a father and a recovering alcoholic.

He said he abused his common-law wife so many times that a judge finally told him to choose a Nebraska prison or county jail.

He said he's glad he served two years in prison, alongside murderers and child molesters, because he found God in church services held behind those bars.

Changed life

He got out of prison as a changed man in 2008. But he said his common-law wife of 12 years had struggled in drug rehabilitation and ended up leaving him with the responsibility for five hungry mouths and hurting hearts.

He said they'll make it.

“I didn't turn out so well, but I'm doing my best, and I think I have accomplished a lot. But I'm not done. Being with the Lord, growing with him is an all lifetime kind of deal,” Duran said.

Terrell said communities can help by reaching out to the single moms and dads down the street.

“I would say vote and get involved in making sure we have policymakers and elected officials at all levels that are prioritizing children,” she said. “None of us can do this alone.”