College of Arts & Sciences

Ph.D. student, advisor, heading study in to single dads

Kennison Wood resizeAccording to the Pew Research Center, there are over 2.6 million single-father households in the United States. With a 900% increase from 1960, households headed by single fathers are slowly becoming as prominent as households headed by single mothers.

Despite the increase in the number of dads raising children on their own, little is known about their experiences and whether the long-term outcomes are similar to those observed in other types of households. 

Erin Wood, a graduate student in the Experimental Ph.D. program at Oklahoma State University, is currently conducting a survey of single dads with her faculty advisor Shelia Kennison.

“Our research was planned with the view that dads, whether they are single dads or married dads, play a very important role in children’s lives and their healthy development,” Kennison said.  She also notes a recent study conducted in Canada revealed that single dads when compared with married dads are at twice the risk of physical and mental health problems.

Wood’s interest is particularly in the area of preventing child injury.  According to the CDC, over 12,000 children under the age of 18 die of injury while another 9.2 sustain injuries that require emergency medical attention due to unintentional injury. For young children, most of these injuries occur in the home during play-time behavior.

“If our research can lead to a better understanding of how to prevent injury in the home, it would be well worth the hard work,” Wood said. 

In a prior study, Wood and Kennison have found that the rate of risk-taking by girls between the ages of 2 and 5 years was as high as the rate of boys of the same age.  Wood said, “This result was unexpected because prior research consistently showed that little boys take more risks than girls.” 

Wood continued, “We are planning to finish up our study this spring.  It’s an online study, so single dads can participate at any time that is convenient for them.”  If you are interested in participating in this study, please contact Erin Wood at 1-479-899-2570 or