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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."

Join The Conversation
Emma15273093 Emma15273093 3 years
This is spot on, Mary Beth. I actually collected a list of *50* dumb things people say to single moms. Enjoy!
jennifermaguire1386451840 jennifermaguire1386451840 3 years
its unbelievable how rude people can be "was it a one nite stand" or "so wers the father" i even got oh u have a kid your easy then..u jus find yourself standing there stupid jus staring at them blankly not knowing wat to say but wat annoys me is this guy was just judging me saying i was easy cos i had a kid but he has a gf now n there all loved up wat if they have an unplanned pregnancy then they split then it he wud justify it cos it happened to him i lot off people have judged e over the years for having a child but then hthey end up in a worse situation haha
EdnaBowles EdnaBowles 3 years
Everyone assumes being married is much easier and better. Well, that's not always the case. I was a single mom for 6 years and it was great! I am currently married and have a great marriage however, it took 10 years! lol.. Marriage is a lot of work and very stressful. Its double the work at home, work and socially. I was lucky that my husband actually is a good father but wasnt the greatest husband. We are a little more mature now and have said, enough is enough
ReginaStewart4691 ReginaStewart4691 3 years
I agree with am34567, my son has not had a father since he was in my belly. The problem is not all women were with their partner when they delivered or soon after. I know a lot of times it is money and age. Well, my son's father was 41 and his family has a lot of money? When people mention being single I have to remind them it is much different being solo. My son has never met his father. I do not get a break. My son does not stay days or weekends with paternal side. Unfortunately the entire family has chosen not to be involved with my son, sad. I was with his father a short time, 4 months but at 40 and 41 we know better and should do better. My favorite is when people would ask if I was going to have another I would say, "I have not found my next victim". I am educated, home owner, fit, career job and remain single, 7 years later?
BiviP1377713097 BiviP1377713097 3 years
My fiancés mom hates me because I am 26 yr old single mother, she has never given me a chance. As if i chose this life, like I sat up and dreamed about some day potentially having 2 different fathers if i have another.t But despite my horrible relationship I would have never wanted my daughter to grow up without her dad. My daughters dad was carrying a secret relationship with his sisters best friend who, also happen to become a friend of mines too. She snuck in to my home, slept on my bed, messed around in my whole house. All while at work. She also would do horrible things leave clues around the house, underwear that didn't belong to me, condoms,... Misplaced things. NO WAY I Was going to forgive him for that. Never looked back.
ColumbaLisaSmith ColumbaLisaSmith 3 years
What gets me is when happily married women tell me how much worse things could be for me. Oh gosh - really? I had no idea!
SuePifer SuePifer 3 years
Love it when I am asked if the father is in the picture .... "nope the journey to heaven is one we are not willing to take at this moment in time." or when I get a sarcastic reply of "what you can't be bothered with him" when I reply that her father is not in the picture I simply say "have not found a flight that goes to heaven yet."
MartaJespersen MartaJespersen 3 years
@Desi3722969 I hear ya girl! I'm 25 with 4 kids (7,6,4,21mon), and folks just assume that we are on welfare etc. Nope, my husband is a self-employed personal trainer, and I'm a SAHM with a Bachelor's degree. We work hard, and love every minute of least noone has to guess if I'm their mother or their grandmother.
am34567 am34567 3 years
How about, not all single moms were once married or left their boyfriend/fiancé whatever? I have been a single mom since day 1. I have a feeling these comments bother those that have help. I don't!
Desi15018800 Desi15018800 3 years
What's really fun is being a young mom and going out/running errands without my other half and people automatically assuming that my 2 girls have different fathers and that said fathers are not really around. FYI, just because I chose to have a second child at 23 years old does not mean I'm not in a committed relationship or even (god forbid!) MARRIED. Yes, our first was unplanned when I was 19 and right out of high school but not every young mom is a promiscuous, entitled little brat. We work hard, go to college, and take good care of our kids.
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