No matter what your marital status, being a mother is hard. But Circle of Moms members like Nico R. maintain that single moms have it the toughest. She's not talking logistics, which some might think. She says it's the intrusive questions and the judgment she receives just because she doesn't have a spouse. Nico is often asked, "Why are you a single mom?" and it infuriates her. "I hate how people assume that since I am a single mom that I somehow managed to drive him away or I didn't even know who her father was." What is a single mom supposed to say to quiet the busybodies? Here, Nico and other single Circle of Moms members offer tips on how to respond with dignity.
Don't Make Excuses
Just because people feel they have to ask, Circle of Moms members like Mel P. are quick to point out, single moms don't have to give reasons, excuses, or apologies to anyone to prove themselves. "Being a single parent is not a status you have to be sorry for," she says. Mel has single-mom friends who feel they need to make excuses and, in some cases, cover up that they're single. "I know single moms that wear wedding rings and have elaborate stories made up to tell people about where their husbands are."
That's just wrong, agrees Raine V., who insists single moms should never feel sorry for being a single mom, and never make others who pry into your circumstances make you feel guilty. Instead, she thinks single moms should tell others: "I am (and should be) proud that I was able to leave his father." Beth, another mom, says no good has ever come from the times when she has served up apologies for being a single mom. In fact, when she does that, the person doing the questioning often responds with an "I'm sorry," too. She's learned to respond, "There's nothing to be sorry about," and adds, "I'm happily divorced, and we're better off without my ex in our lives."
Tell It Like It Is
Since some people feel compelled to ask prying questions, the easy response is to disarm them with the truth, says a mom named Mandi. "I love to see the looks on people's faces when they ask me why I am a single mom and I tell them: 'Because the man that I dated for three years then was married to for four-and-a-half years decided that while I was in the hospital after having our second daughter (our first was only 16 months old) that it would be OK to have another woman in our home for an overnight stay. While I tried to forgive him and get marriage counseling to make our marriage work because I loved him and for our children, he chose to leave us.'"
Mareesa H. feels much the same, and when people comment on her being a single mom with the statement, "I don't know how you do it," she says she feels compelled to want to lob back a counterquestion. "I would never ask a married mom how she does it because I think motherhood is hard but also rewarding." Mareesa bites her tongue but says she wants to respond with: "Appreciate your thoughtful pats on the back — not so much your questions and stunned faces."
Talk About Your Strengths
For many Circle of Moms members, the probing questions about why they are single moms inspire them to want to describe why they are strong and why they have become invincible. Charity M. says she answers the question this way: "It isn't our choice, but we are strong women who keep our heads held high and do what we have to for our children. Our children will be grateful for it, no matter if their fathers are there or not."
Desiree A. says what really frosts her are the number of people who not only question her single parenthood, but have the nerve to ask where her husband/father of her children is. "I'm so sick of that question," she says about queries as to why she is a single mom. "I've been constantly asked why my baby's dad isn't there." It's not a fair question, she says, and she often answers by saying that as a single mom, she feels strong. "I don't like being cheated on and am just as good a parent. We had to be brave to put up with what we have and are amazing parents."
Tell Them How You Really Feel
Medic M. says that when people asked how she's going to be able to raise her son as a man she felt empowered with her response: "I left my husband, but I did not leave every man in his life, including my brothers, his grandpa, and male friends." When asked, "Is his father in the picture?" Shaz L. wants to respond: "That's so rude," she says. "Why would you ask a question like he isn't? And more importantly, why would you feel comfortable enough to pose that, like you're inquiring about where I got my sweater or who did my hair?"
Jurnee S. says she is tired of the implication that just because she is single others assume she is miserable. "I hate when people feel sorry for you and assume that it's all aloneness and drudgery," she says. Instead, she counters by saying she likes being a single mom and adds: "By getting divorced I did choose to be a single mom and I loved it." What's most frustrating, she says, is that she keeps her lips sealed and doesn't ask such inappropriate questions of her married friends. "I sometimes felt bad for my married friends who may have had more money, but had to clear everything with their husbands," Jurnee admits. "But I never said, 'I give you credit for putting up with the (swear word) — it must be hard.'"
In the end, many Circle of Moms members like Terralyn P. say they refuse to be treated like victims just because they are single moms. "Don't worry about anyone's opinion," she recommends. "It is hard to be a single mom," she says. "People hear 'single mom' and automatically think the worst of you. Some people ask stupid questions and judge no matter what. If you were married and in a bad relationship, they'd ask why you didn't leave, and if you leave, they want to know why you did it. I personally wouldn't worry too much about their opinion."
How do you respond when asked rude questions?