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How to Answer Why Are You Single

Single-Mom Comebacks to Rude Questions

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.

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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?

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Join The Conversation
LorraineCole1385344501 LorraineCole1385344501 3 years
Those questions are usually a subconscious need to hear the "dirt". A simple response such as, "Thanks for your concern, but it was an emotionally healthy and necessary choice." My favorite that puts people off, is responding in a calm, non accusatory tone, "Why would you ask me such a personal question?" Typically the response will be, stammering and an, "Oh, just curious". You simply say, "Ah, I thought so..." then change the subject, without offering any details. It will become blaringly obvious to the inquiring person that they were inappropriate, and you need not be rude while you redirect the conversation, or excuse yourself to walk away. I doubt they'll ever do that again to anyone. Consider it a public service. Hehe.
DianaSaballos DianaSaballos 4 years
All I say is "It didn't work out" and when they ask if he's in her life, I don't get defensive because that's his choice on how involved/absent he is. I just tell the truth--he lives across the country. I usually get long silences and "that must be hard" but I think it's genuine sympathy I'm getting. I smile and say, "kinda, but we're happy". But if it's a total stranger I would probably ask them why they're asking such a personal question.
FreedomSmellsNice1369688736 FreedomSmellsNice1369688736 4 years
Your personal business is no one else's business. I am thrown off guard, but I quickly focus on the person asking the question. Are they a friend? Someone I trust? Or a nosey gossipy type? If they are the latter, then all they want is the dirt and then they will move on to spread your business all over town. No, thanks. I just smile at them, until they feel uncomfortable, or I smile and walk away, or I smile and change the subject by asking them about their marriage, etc. Usually they get the hint and leave me alone.
SusanZipf SusanZipf 4 years
I am not a single mother, but I have four boys and a totally disabled, very sick, husband. I have been told over and over again "how strong I am," and it used to get on my nerves. Especially when they add, "I could never do that." As if I agreed to have all this on my plate. But you know what? I got over it. When people tell me how strong I am, I tell them, "Thank you. The Lord gives me strength." Sometimes a compliment is just a compliment.
ShikoKigathi1368063940 ShikoKigathi1368063940 4 years
I have found power and strength in being well dressed, articulate and classy, hardworking single mom. Its so intimidating my experience is that they ask other people, not me if I am about my situation. No one knows because I do not open up, period! Then when they ask, I tell them what they already know "Being a mom is not easy so its important to me that I only keep the right people around me" Then end the conversation abruptly. No details, No explanations. And it ques them that I am not interested in taking any more questions. Works like magic lol
EverydayMorning EverydayMorning 4 years
I have had a couple of people ask why I chose to be a single mom. They felt kind of stupid when I told them I didn't choose it that my husband died last year. What really bothers me is when people that used to tell me I was such a great, involved mom, now have nothing nice to say. I went from being a great mom to a horrible single mom. I would love to see them try. In the blink of an eye I went from being a caregiver to my husband and a mom, to a grieving widow and a single mom of grieving kids. I didn't chose this and I am doing the best I can with the hand I was dealt.
KristiC KristiC 4 years
Wow! I must be very fortunate. Nobody has ever been an a$$hole, at least to my face, about me being a single mom. I live in a community with VERY few single mothers and even fewer poor, single mothers. I have also never felt the need to apologize for being a single mother. Why would I? Some of the comments above are kind of over the top, IMO. 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?" Well, why are you so defensive? My daughter's father is not in the picture. If I'm talking to someone about the fact that I am a single parent, I think another normal question or open statement would be to ask or to say if the other parent is still around. I mean if I were sitting on a park bench reading Parents Magazine, not wearing a wedding ring and someone sat down and said, "So, is the dad still around?" he/she would probably get maced but otherwise, I think it's a fairly logical follow-up question, especially at school or by her friends' parents, when we were new. Nobody wants to say something to make "the new kid" feel bad or uncomfortable. I'd rather have my daughter's teacher ask me, if I wasn't smart enough to point it out, is dad around, if no, why not...not to be a bitch like some of you are indicating but so the teacher doesn't say OK, Sally, tell us about your dad! Oh, well...he just got sentenced to death for murdering my grandmother so I don't see him much. Not everybody who asks about our "status" is out to shame us or blame us for something. It's called getting to know someone. I ask my gay friends some pretty stupid sounding questions to them, but they know that I don't know and I'm only asking so that I can understand and because I care and I want to know them better. It is harder to be a single mom sometimes. So, if someone says, "Wow, I don't know how you do it," why would you have a negative reaction to that? That person is indicating you have a strength they believe they themselves do not. I say that to mom or a couple that has 4 or more kids. I guess I better ask them if that's offensive next time. Enough, of one!
Madame-Joy Madame-Joy 4 years
As women we need to be more supportive of one another. One way to enhance positive communication among moms is by creating a Moms for Moms Community in your area. It's been a great resource for my small mountain town!
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