Six million children in the United States experience the partial (fatherless) family. This type of family, which appears frequently in lower-class areas, somehow functions as a viable form. It is not a congenial structure for understanding by means of the classic psychoanalytic model or other "deficit" models. A "difference" model is proposed for understanding the lower-class partial family's functions regarding sexuality, economic life chances, authority, and honor. It is poverty combined with fatherlessness that accounts for the differences and, perhaps, the deficits.