Typically, I share posts to help single moms (and dads) become more knowledgeable about the experience and offer advice on how to manage the day-to-day. I actually started this blog with the mindset that I would be able to help other women that were considering leaving their significant other and were fearful of being a single mom. I wanted to be the inspiration that they needed to make the change and help them understand that it would be okay. This post is not going to be like that. Today, I want to share some things that others should avoid doing when dealing with a single mom.
Here is a list of things that you should never say to a single mom…and if you do, that single mom cannot be blamed for their actions. I am specifically going to focus on things that have been said to me. And please excuse me if I get a little heated and go overboard – this subject just really gets me going.
1. Children need their father for a male role model.
Ahhhh…no they don’t! Children, especially boys, need a male role model. Whether that role model is their father or otherwise should not matter. Of course, I want my son’s father to be involved in his life, but if he was a drug-addicted, can’t stay out jail, prostituting, alcoholic man, he would not be in my son’s life. I’m sorry, but that’s the truth. My son’s father has his issues and in many ways I don’t want my son to learn how to be a man from him. I want him to learn what a real man looks like, not a boy masquerading around in a man’s body.
2. Where is your child?
I was at the movie theater waiting for my dear friend Titi to arrive, and a woman walked up to me and asked, “Aren’t you a single mom? Where’s your son?” Excuse me…what does that matter to you? And why can’t a single mom go somewhere without their child? Are we just supposed to be attached at the hip or something? I’m not supposed to have ANY breathing room? Before I could even respond to her, all of these questions ran through my head. And honestly, it took everything in me not to snap (especially because I couldn’t recall where I knew her from!). So, my response was, “Yes, I am a single mom. And my son is not here.” And I also gave the fakest smile that I could muster. She must have gotten the hint because she quickly walked away. Honestly, what I wanted to say was, “I’m a grown ass woman and I can go out whenever and wherever I want. Do you think I’m just abandoning my son to come to the movie theaters? Really? Get out of my face!” Thankfully, the patience and tolerance that I’ve been acquiring since having my son and dealing with his antics have really been worth it.
Can you see why this would irritate a single mom? Just don’t ask. Just assume the best, say hello, and either talk about something else or walk away. Very likely, if a single mom is out and about without her child, she has made arrangements for someone to watch her child. If you see a married couple out without their kids, would you ask the same question?
3. What are you going to do with your child support check? Are you going to get your hair and nails done?
An associate of mine (let’s call her that since we’re really not that close) asked me this one day on the phone. She was so happy that I had finally file and received child support and she figured now I would have more money to get my hair and nails done, or possibly to go to a spa and relax. Is that would you envision child support to be? Because it’s not! Child support is for the needs of the child, not the relaxation of the momma! I know of and have heard of a few moms who take advantage of the child support checks, but guess what? I’m not one of them. So don’t insult me by asking.
4. Have you ever heard of birth control?
Ok, so this one wasn’t directly asked to me, but I overheard someone saying this to a single mom. Honestly, I’m very surprised that the mom didn’t punch the woman in the face, because that really hit me hard when I heard it. The single mom was in the grocery store and she had 6 kids with her. She was rushing through the aisles, trying to get the ingredients together for dinner and breakfast for the next day. She was newly divorced and she was working on getting used to being a single mom of 6 kids. Her ex-husband was incarcerated for some drug charge. I know this because I was talking to her right before the incident happened (I have that face that says “talk to me!”). As we separated and she went down one direction and my son and I went in the opposite direction, I hear a lady nearby tell the single mom, “Have you ever heard of birth control? Are you just sleeping with everyone?” Wow! People really have the audacity!
Don’t assume that because a single mom has multiple kids that those kids have multiple fathers. In this case, the single mom was actually married and had 6 children in her marriage. She didn’t have multiple partners – all of her kids had the same father. And even if she had multiple partners and all the kids had different fathers, it is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. Stop placing judgment on others for what they have done in their life.
5. I feel so bad for you…
Why? Because I’m a single mom? Why are so many people more upset about me being a single mom than I am? I’m happy. My son’s happy. What’s the problem? I get sick and tired of people telling me that I must have it so hard, or that they feel bad for me and they don’t know how I do it. Do you know how I do it? I get up every day and keep it moving. I get up in the morning, go to work, come home and spend time with my son, blog, and finally go to sleep. And honestly, if I focus on the basics in that way, I tend to ignore all the nagging feelings about whether or not I’m going to make it through the month.
The trick of it is that all moms are jugglers, handlers, and creative masterminds – they figure it out and handle it all under all circumstances. Single moms have this same talent; the only difference is that they’re doing it on their own. It’s a challenge, yes, but don’t pity us – root for us!
6. You let your child spend time with his dad after all he put you through?
What happened between me and my son’s father is just that – what happened between us! It does not impact the love or appreciation that he has for our son. If he is willing to step up to the plate and be there for Micah, I am more than happy to accept him. It doesn’t matter what we’ve been through – our child comes first. I am making no excuses for him in terms of the type of person that he is, but I genuinely see that he loves his child. As long as he is not endangering our son in any way, he will have and continue to have a relationship with Micah.
And by the way, he is not spending time with his father, he is bonding with his father, siblings, and extended family. I don’t doubt that they are giving him the love that I would give him if he was home with me.
7. I’m a single mom this week – my husband will be travelling for work all week!
Ahhh no…you’re not a single mom this week, you are alone with your kids while your husband is travelling. You know what that means? He’s coming back! And he’ll be there even if it’s just for emotional support while he’s travelling. When he comes home, you will have someone to talk about your week and you’ll surely be able to take advantage of some time on your own, if possible. I’m a single mom every day, every week – even when he’s with his dad for the weekend, I’m a single mom. Because I have to be ready to jump into action should anything happen or if his father has other plans. Your couple of days alone does not compare to my everyday life. So don’t compare it! Just share that you are anxious that your husband is leaving, and we can talk through it. Just don’t compare!
On the other hand, I was a military wife in my past life. I do understand that husbands (or wives) are deployed for months and years on end. In this case, you are definitely a single parent. You have no idea when your significant other will return. I knew many wives who spent their pregnancy alone and in some cases the first few years of their child’s life.
8. You have to take ANOTHER day off because your child is sick? You have to leave early again for ANOTHER doctor’s appointment?
Don’t ever say this to a single mom; don’t even imply it. Because guess what? She has to do it! Who else will? And you not showing any compassion to that fact will set a single mom off. Micah was diagnosed with asthma a few months ago and it has been a struggle getting him through the winter months. The cold air has been exacerbating his asthma and we’ve spent many days at home or in the doctor’s office. I’ve tried to get his father involved, but I really can’t depend on him so I have had to do it on my own. And I’m happy to do it to make sure that my son is okay.
9. Wow, you look really tired.
Honestly, who wants to hear that? You would swear that I was slinking around like a snail on the floor the way people look at me as they say this. You know why I look tired? Because I am! And you know why I probably won’t get any sleep? Because I’m a single mom! Get off my back already, why don’t you? It doesn’t matter what type of mom you are talking to, just don’t say this. This really offends moms. You don’t know what their experience is, and no one needs it thrown in their face.
10. You must be so lonely. You should start dating.
So what, any woman that doesn’t have a significant other has to automatically be lonely? I have tried to emphasize this many times – I am alone, not lonely. I don’t crave a relationship right now, nor am I going to rush into it just to appease those people that feel that I should be in one. Honestly, this is the longest that I have gone not being in a relationship and it actually feels really good. I am going to live my life, enjoy it to the fullest, and if someone should appear at the right time in the right place, then I will make that move. I have been asked out on dates numerous times but it hasn’t worked out. I’m not looking for it, but I am open to it. Until then, I am enjoying my single life with my little man — alone, not lonely.
11. Your house (or your car) looks a mess. You should clean it!
Do you want to clean it? Because I would willingly take a free cleaning service. First and foremost, I have a toddler. It is hard enough chasing after him and cleaning up behind him. But then, I’m a single mom – which means I have little to no time to clean every day. So you know what that means? It will get cleaned when it’s cleaned. If you don’t like it, don’t come over and don’t get in my car. But calling me out like this only says that I am a messy person and not doing what I should do as a mother for my child. It’s just rude to ask this question to anyone!
12. Is your child’s father in the picture?
Why does that matter so much to you? I don’t mind the occasional question, but sometimes it is just too much. And it is not any individual’s fault for asking the question. I do understand that some people are genuine in asking this question. The follow-up questions determines whether I’ll be offended or not. As a general rule, you shouldn’t ask where the other parent is. It could be a sore point. And unless you want to get into the full conversation about it, just don’t ask!
13. You’re a single mom…are you on welfare or government assistance? How can you afford everything?
This is possibly one of my pet peeves. Just because I am a single mom doesn’t mean that I have to be on welfare or government assistance! Yes, many single mothers make an annual salary below the poverty level, but there are many single mothers that are thriving! And I am one of them. Yes, we have some very difficult days where I’m concerned how all the bills will get paid and what will have to be sacrificed. But overall, we are doing really well. Don’t assume just because I’m a single mom means that I’m on some type of government assistance. And if I am, what does that matter? There are some married couples on government assistance. Do you ask them how they can afford everything? No. Then, don’t do it to single moms.
14. Single moms should not be celebrated as single parenting should not be the norm.
Let me correct that statement – single parents (and parents as a whole) don’t want or ask to be celebrated; we just should be respected. For the simple fact that they are raising their children the best way we know how, regardless of the circumstance. Whether a single parent is divorced, never married, by choice, or any other circumstance does not mean that you should look down on them. We are not destroying society; we are just trying to survive in it. Gone are the days where the perception of families were those who were married, living in a beautiful house with a white picket fence, and having 2 1/2 children. Not that the perception is fully gone, but the cloud has been lifted and people are starting to see that there are many single parents out there. And I will not be considered a statistic because of it. My circumstances and your circumstances are just that – mine and yours. Single parents are strong and brave and powerful – we have shown that we can do it all and still have a head on our shoulders and a mind of our own. We should be respected for raising our children, instead of allowing them to become a part of the system.
15. You’ll regret not staying with his father.
No, I would regret it if i stayed with him. I did not want my son to see me unhappy every day and think that it was normal. I believe that he is better off seeing me single and happy. I truly believe that happy mother produces happy children. An older woman told me this and I was believed the opposite – she believed that happy children are produced from a two-parent household. I counteracted stating that happy children can possibly come from a happy and loving two-parent household. Children are not happy if they are constantly seeing their parents arguing or getting into physical altercations. In my opinion, children will blossom in any household that is filled with love and acceptance.
As a general rule, don’t make this statement to any single mom. Trust me, they’re already trying to deal with the decision that they’ve made and the long-term effects on their child. Don’t get involved by throwing this issue in their face. No one wants to feel that they may regret such a big decision, nor it is your place to point this out.
Single parents – do you have any to add to the list? I’d love to hear it! Share in the comments.
As I’ve said before and I’ll say it again, the judgment of single parents has to stop. We are doing the best that we can with the cards that have been dealt to us. There are some single parents that need your support and help and even more that are doing very well. In either case, root for the single parents, don’t judge them. And don’t say any of these things to a single mom (or dad) because as I said, they cannot be blamed for what they do after you say it.