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What Not to Say to a Single Mom

4 Things Not to Say to a Single Mom

"Why are you a single mom?" This tops the list of the most obnoxious things people say to single parents, says Circle of Moms member Nico R. "I hate how people assume that since I am a single mom that I somehow managed to drive [the father of my child] away or I didn't even know who her father was," says the mom of a 6-year-old daughter. In truth, "Her father and I were together for 10 years, but when she came, he called it quits."

Nico is not alone. We asked other readers who are parenting solo to share the comments they wish they'd never hear again; here are four things you should never say to single moms.

1. "Why did you leave?"

"Really," says Terralyn P. "People judge [single moms] 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."


Gayle G. says she is often confronted, in some cases by total strangers, who tell her "I don't understand why single moms would leave their husbands." Needless to say, she has developed a ready response: "I told one person that some single moms are in the situation that they are in because of bad things that happened," she says. She also responds with her own questions. "I ask some questions like, 'What if the man you were with beat you? What if the man you were with left you for another woman?' Sometimes us single mothers just need to take a stand so that others can understand."

2. "How do you do it?"

Kelly B. is one of several readers who says she is tired of hearing other moms ask, "How do you do it?" She frequently responds: "It's not easy but we manage." Even more infuriating, she says she's often interrupted midsentence. "Before I can finish the sentence, they are quick to respond with 'Well I guess you chose this life.'" Seriously?! "Let me see, yes I chose to have kids knowing full well in advance that my relationship would break down and my kids would be lucky enough to see their dad every three years. Yes, I chose to do this alone."

Catherine C. has come up with a quick retort to the "I don't know how you do it!" comment: "I don't either. But it gets done, so let's not overanalyze the logistics."

See two more big no-nos after the break.

3. "I feel so sorry for you."

Please, spare the pity party, say single moms like Jurnee S. "I hate when people feel sorry for you and assume that it's all aloneness and drudgery," she says. “I like being a single mom. In a way, by getting divorced, I did choose to be a single mom, and I love it."

4. "Is the father in the picture?"

File under "none of your business." Katherine C. says the question "Is the father in the picture?? is her biggest pet peeve. "Why would you ask that question like he isn't? And even 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?" Collins says that question is sometimes followed by a litany of comments that are equally rude. For instance, "Maybe she's acting out because Dad's not around." OK, then "What's your excuse?", she asks the inquisitor.

Bonus: One Last Piece of Advice

In the end, Lynnetta H. says she and her single mom peers hear these kinds of comments and questions all the time, but she advises moms to try to turn a deaf ear. "My only advice is to hold your head high as if you are worth a million bucks," she says "Don't let it bother you. You be the best mom that you can be. All that matters is that your children are loved and cared for."

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