You’re Not a “Single Mom” Unless You’re a Single Mom

I was parenting alone, but I wasn't a single parent.

I was a single mother to my oldest son for four years, before my husband and I got together. My husband was recently gone for a couple weeks for work, and I was parenting alone. I was parenting alone, but I wasn’t a single parent.

I ruminate on this after witnessing a strange phenomenon where partnered or married mothers call themselves single moms because their partners are gone for any amount of time.

“My hubby’s away this whole week, so I’m a single mom!”

It has been expressed by those of us who are or have been single parents that this is inappropriate.

Stay with me now– I know what some of you are thinking.

“You’re too sensitive!”

“Get over it!”

“I can call myself that if I want to!”


I can see the dismissive comments now.

Because I’ve seen them several times before.

But, in the spirit of letting the voices of marginalized people speak louder than those who wish to speak over them, please consider not calling yourself a single parent unless you truly are one.

Of course you’re free to give yourself that title whether or not it’s true. Some people wonder why it matters, why there is weight to it. Consider this: would you think it’s right for a single mother to call herself a military mom? Or a married mom to call herself a widow?

I’ve actually heard a married woman — whose husband is alive and well — call herself a widow. Because hunting season started. How fortunate to be able to use that title as a joke.

Everyone has their own struggles. This isn’t about who has it worse.

Parenting as a happily married mom is tough. Parenting as a military mom is tough. Solo parenting is tough. I have two kids now, and it’s definitely harder to balance things with my partner gone. But there are differences between solo parenting until your husband gets back, and being a single parent.

While my husband is gone, I can still have contact with him. We email and text. Even when he was in the military and went overseas, I got letters from him.

When I was a single parent, there was no partner for me to share milestones with. No partner to giddily exclaim “He took his first step!” to. No husband for me to send a letter to, expressing how difficult bedtime is without him. No texts and phone calls to check in. No supportive words from a distance.

While my husband is gone, I still live in the home we have created together. His temporary absence does not leave me to support our whole family on my own. He supports me, emotionally and financially, to be a stay-at-home mom. While he is gone, I still have his support.

As a single mother, I was solely responsible for the food we ate, the clothes I put on my child, the roof over our head, every bath time, every bed time, every boo boo — it was all me, and only me, all the time.

While my husband is gone, his blankets are still on our bed. His clothes are still in the closet. His smell is still on his shirt. His image is still in my heart.

When I was a single mother, there was none of that. I was alone. Sometimes it was wonderful and empowering, and other times it was excruciatingly painful and lonely. It was my choice to embark upon parenting on my own (as much of a choice as it can be when you find yourself with a surprise pregnancy and the biological father simply walks out of the scene). But it was hard in ways you cannot understand unless you’ve been there.

When you call yourself a single parent even though you’re not, you treat it like a costume you can put on and take off whenever it’s convenient. The casual treatment of something that is very serious to many of us who have been there is dismissive of our experience. It’s also something of an insult to your partner to claim to be a “single mom” just because they’re out of town for a bit. I’m not single as a result of my husband being gone for work– work that he does to support our family.

Harm reduction is important. Harm reduction is assisted by people being aware of the words they use, and how they impact others. Now you know it is hurtful to some of us. Will you stop?

97 thoughts on “You’re Not a “Single Mom” Unless You’re a Single Mom”

  1. I was a single mom with two. It was hell. I had no close friends I saw regularly nor my own parents. I was cash aide and was trying to finish school I started before I left my ex. It was dark it was lonely. My hubby coming back in my life was very good for me and my older gurls. June we were married 4 years. I have 4 kids now. So yeah I agree with you. Please say you feel like a single mom.

  2. So very true. As a single mom, I don’t resent moms that say they are single moms when their husbands leave for a couple days. The reason why is because I used to tell people I felt like a single mom when I was still married because of the lack of support I received from my children’s father. But now that I have been single parenting for the last five years, I clearly see there is a profound difference. What you say is true. Call yourself what you will; I find it a little amusing when the term is so loosely used. For those that do feel that way, I truly hope that weekend single parenthood is as close as it comes. Like you said, there is good and there is bad, with doing it on our own– just like with all types of parenting. Now that I have a partner, it’s a new challenge to let go of the reins again and have someone who wants to share the responsibility. I do feel grateful having known what it is truly like to be a single mom– it has made me who I am. But I am enjoying and blessed to have some weight lifted from my shoulders. Thank you for sharing 🙂

  3. Excellent post. Thank you for this.

    I’m pregnant with my first but have been all alone in this for 9 months now (due soon), and I can tell you that I am already offended that there are people out there calling themselves ‘single parents’ when they are in fact not truly alone. It hurts to be alone – especially when your aloneness was not part of the original plan. It sucks to have someone run away from you, from all their promises to you, and their adult responsibility. It’s emotionally exhausting and painful to walk outside and see happy couples parenting their kids together, helping each other, being compassionate and supportive.

    So yeah. Please. Stop referring to yourselves as ‘single parents’ if you have someone in your life who loves you and shares your burdens. Because it’s not the same for those of us who are truly shouldering everything by ourselves.

    1. Jessica, I feel for you. I am divorced, but my ex is around to at least monetarily help out, and he takes the kids 4 days a month. I wish I could be there to support you. Look around for support groups, you don’t have to be alone! Good luck!

    2. Jessica, just wanted to say, I’ve been there and I feel you. My son turns 9 tomorrow. It’s taken a while to find some peace. It’s gotten better. I found a school for my son that has a great community and that has helped a lot. We still ate Thanksgiving alone together though, and that felt kind of rough. I wish I could help in a practical way- know for sure though- I send loving supportive thoughts your way.

    3. I am happy to read this article. There really is a qualitative difference. Some here don’t think so – but we who live it say there is. You can either accept and empathize with that or deny it I suppose. I don’t have time for the deniers- I’m a real single mom.

    4. Hi Jessica,

      Thank you for your painfully honest post. I, too, was alone during my entire pregnancy and now have been a single mother for 5 years. It does hurt to see happy couples working together and knowing we have to do it all on our own. However, I will also tell you that being a single mother has been a gift in many ways. The biggest being that my son and I are so close, we share everything together. Those emotions that I would have shared with my partner are shared with my child. When something happens and I am sad, my son is the one to comfort me, and my son knows that whatever he goes through during his day, mom will be the one he turns to for comfort. He does not remember his father and he does not ask about him… It is just the two of us against the world. He is also close with my parents and the rest of the family… But no other relationship compares to ours. For you, it will be very hard and lonely in the beginning… But one day when you really need human connection, your child will come put their sweet little arms around you and will tell you “mommy it’s ok, I love you” and you will realize you have all you need right there. You will soon experience the pride that come with being single mother. And, when your child grows up, they will know what sacrifices you made and how hard you worked in order to provide and give them the best life possible. Good Luck Jessica, and congratulations <3

    5. Jessica,
      I have been in your shoes, when I was almost 4 months along my baby daddy and I spilt. keep your head held high and do the best you can.
      when my daughter was younger she always asked why don’t I have a daddy… that is something you really can’t explain too well to a 5 year old on why her father isn’t around or apart of her life.. what I have always told her is when god is ready for you to have a daddy you will have one, what I also explained was that some kids have a mommy and a daddy, some kids have 2 mommies and 2 daddies (which now days can go either remarriage or same gender relationships) and some kids have just a mommy or just a daddy.. now 10 years later its still just the 2 of us, we have our ups and downs but she knows that I love her enough for 2 parents I am always at games and other events. some of my friends claim they are single moms because their hubby’s work away but until you walk in our shoes as a single parent then you have no idea what is it like to be one
      god bless all the single parents and single grandparents raising kiddos

  4. This article is her opinion and her experience but pretty closed minded to other’s experiences. I have been a single mom of four kids and now I’m married to a man who drives a truck and is in the military. I am as much a single mom now as I was before… Sometimes it seems harder this way. I am considered married so people don’t feel like I need help but I am always alone and have no extended family so it’s on my shoulders. So I get this article comes from her experience but she definitely shouldn’t be speaking for all Mother’s experiences.

    1. I agree with you, it is her experience and her opinion. I am a working mother of two, and am married. My husband works out of town and is home every other weekend. I don’t necessarily consider myself a single mother, but I have very similar struggles. There can be so many variables regarding people’s parenting situations. From the stay-at-home mom with live-in working hubby and parent’s/family close by, to the single working mom with absentee ex-husband and no family support. What of the single parent who may live with family, and receives a great deal of their help? Are they more entitled to the label of “single parent” than the women who’s husband is deployed and has no family close by? We all live with our unique circumstances.

    2. Momma Bear, I am curious then to what advantage was it marrying this man? If you are worse off for it as you say? So you don’t get any support from him financially? Emotionally? Etc? Why would you do something to make yours and your children’s life even more difficult as you say? We make our beds and we have to lie in them.

      But What Kristen says is true. If you have a loving partner comtributing to your family, monetarily, financially, emotionally, spiritually etc then even in his absence you aren’t truly a single mother. She did not however go trough all the other scenarios. Sure, if you have a spouse/partner who is not contributing in those ways mentioned then you are essentially alone. But I would ask why would someone stay in that situation? To whom does it serve?

    3. Exactly. My husband used to travel extensively for work. The year after our first child was born, he was gone for 38 weeks. Lemme tell ya, a closet full of shirts doesn’t do much to take the place of a real live person. Those shirts couldn’t hold my crying baby for five minutes so I could take a shower. They couldn’t hold *me* when that crying baby had me so frustrated that I didn’t know what to do with myself. They couldn’t pat me on the back and tell me I was doing a great job. They couldn’t run to the store for medicine when we both got a case of double pink-eye over Christmas. Those shirts are just a reminder that the person you love is gone and missing out on so many things that he will never get a chance to see again. When your baby reaches each milestone and Daddy isn’t there to see any of them because he’s been living in a hotel halfway around the world, it sure makes you feel like a single mom. True, I could send him an email but there’s small comfort in that. (Actually, if we’re being honest here, it’s pretty darned depressing…) The only advantage I had over the “real” single moms I knew was that I had my husband’s paycheck and employer health insurance to depend on. Otherwise, we were in a very similar, lonely boat. So, if it offends you that I used to tell people I felt like a single mom, I can only shrug and tell you that IS how I felt and my feelings are as valid as yours…

      1. There’s a difference between saying you “felt” like a single mom like you did, and calling yourself a “single mom”. My son’s father and I broke up 2 weeks before I found out I was pregnant. I was in the military so I was working full-time in an unfamiliar area with no family, no close friends, raising a developmentally challenged child on my own. A co-worker was whining to me how difficult it was while her husband was deployed and it honestly pissed me off.. I was like “hi, welcome to my life of the last 3 years”. Or when another co-worker who was in a relationship with her children’s father but not married, so called herself a single mom. It’s just insensitive.

      2. YES!!!! Yes!!! Yes!!!! I work from home, I DONT get financial support from my husband. He pays his share and I pay mine but I earn more so I usually pay for more. PLUS I am alone at home, no family support, cz I have none and his parents don’t help. Well, they did babysit once, and we got home to our 8mth baby bouncing on their knee at 1030pm and both were drunk. Never again.
        So, I resent this article immensely. I think it ostracises women, who ARE HOME ALONE, doing it for weeks on end while their partners shirts hang in the cupboard (yay for shirts wtf). We need to support women doing it alone, whether they are f****ng married or not, they’re alone. If you get help from the husband or ex, awesome but just cz a woman is married doesn’t mean her husband is the breadwinner. What century are we in? Besides, “real” single parents get a break when their ex’s take the children. Granted not all.
        This whole thing is all over Facebook and it’s separating the NUMBER ONE part of our society who need support the most – women at home alone and their children. Give us all a bleedin break!

        1. By the way, I mean YES to monzie, not the article writer. I think this article is ridiculous. How can anyone compare who has it harder. You say it’s not a battle of the woe’s but look what it’s doing to people. To women. Come on. Let’s support one another not ostracise and try to criticise when someone is doing it tough alone, whether they’re sibgle or not.

    4. Hi Momma Bear – I get where you are coming from. My husband left 18mths ago, so now I’m a single parent to 3 kids and 2 foster kids with additional needs (they are HIS cousins!). He has little to do with the two foster kids, his new partner doesn’t even know they exist. He does support us financially still, and I’m eternally grateful for that, but with the two foster kids its respite and emotional support we all as a family need. His family turned their back on us too, and my family live far away, so I say to everyone, thank goodness for my friends who are our support. At the end of the day though, I have been a single parent for a long time, as he contributed so little to the day to day management of the children’s lives. Sure he went out to work, but he thought that was the be all and end all of his responsibility to them.

  5. Yessss!!!! Thank you for writing this! I was a single mother for a little over two years. Being a single parent is far more than having no one there with you. You also are the sole parent responsible for financial things. In itself that is difficult!

  6. What qualifies as a single mother? I’ve been divorced my my three kids Dad for 9 years. Child support has been mostly uninterrupted (except for that one year he stopped because his wife quit her well-paid job to pursue her dream — it failed). He has the older kids after school on a daily basis and every other weekend. But that’s it. He doesn’t help with homework. He won’t pay for medical bills because he disagrees with giving them modern medicine. He doesn’t wake them up and dress them and get them to school and go to their conferences and their appointments and their gymnastics swimming Magic the Gathering events. I’ve held down a job and provided insurance and kept them fed with a roof over their head, and his contributions have helped, but I am alone every night, and haven’t gotten laid in 5 years. I sure feel like a single mom.

    1. I’ve always thought “single mom” applies to any currently-unpartnered woman who’s raising kids. If some people distinguish between moms with no involvement or financial support from the dad; vs. moms with a support-paying, visitation-exercising ex… well, I guess I can understand that. The former does sound harder than the latter. But – linguistically – I think that’s splitting hairs. Regardless whether a mom has extra income from child support, or a higher-wage job…or she has no “extra” income at all; regardless whether she gets respite from the responsibilities of parenthood when her ex has visitation, or when her kids visit their grandparents, or because she can afford a nanny…or whether she never gets any respite… key similarities remain, between “single moms” with involved and uninvolved exes. As the author discussed, they don’t have a partner to share joys with, to provide emotional support, to give the toddler a bath or get the older child ready for school, when Mom has the flu. They feel a sense of sole responsibility that’s sometimes empowering and sometimes depressing.

      I think the author’s point was that moms who *don’t* struggle with these things – who *have* partners – belittle the experiences of single moms, when they carelessly equate themselves with single moms simply because their husbands are on business trips or obsessed with a hobby. I don’t think she meant to say that some single moms don’t deserve to call themselves that, because other moms are “more single” than they are. At least, she shouldn’t have meant that.

      — A single mom for 10 years, to developmentally-disabled twins (My ex does pay child support and exercise visitation, but I am unquestionably the “default parent”.)

      1. Hi Jeannine, my biggest fear is getting sick, because there is no-one who can take the littlies on for any extended period. I am very lucky that I have a daughter 19yo with a car and licence, so she is by default the ‘other’ parent if I have to be in two or more places at once, and she was a godsend when I was sick in bed for a few days once. BUT, she will be moving out soon, and works full-time, so I won’t have her to fall back on.

  7. My husband is away for a year in Afghanistan. I take care of my two little kids alone, I helped take care of my mother as she died, and I’m now taking care of my elderly father. It’s hard but I’m not a single mom. I would never disrespect single moms by insinuating that their struggle is my own.

  8. I NEVER comment on blog posts or anything for that matter, but this post really hit me hard. I am a SINGLE parent. Unmarried. Not in a relationship. Living alone just me and my child. Paying for her needs 100%. Her father is not involved whatsoever, so I get it. It also bothers me a little when mom’s whose child’s father pays child support and has visitation rights and takes the child(ren) for periods of time, giving that mother a chance to do things for herself once in a while. That is not single parenting, that is co-parenting whether you and your ex are on good terms or not, you are NOT doing it alone.

    I am not complaining about my situation, I love my daughter more than anything else in the world and her birth has made me a much stronger person that I could ever be had she not come into my life, I am simply noting that there is a big difference between being a parent who is not in a relationship and being a parent and raising a child completely alone.

    Sending love out there to all the moms who do it all by themselves.

    1. I agree. My ex only pays because the state is forcing him too. He was ordered to start paying in March while I was pregnant with my daughter. He managed to keep from paying until June when our daughter was born. So then he was almost $2,000 in the rears on child support for my boys. It took another 5 months of fighting to get my daughter added to the child support. I can count on one hand how many times from her birth that he has physically seen the kids. So I’m a SINGLE MAMA and damn proud of it! Don’t let anyone get you down. Hugs by hun things will get better.

  9. I am married with two children, my husband has been working second shift since my oldest was three months old. I see what you are saying, however, I have been alone in helping with homework, making dinner, bath time and bed time for 11 years now. It is very hard to do all this by myself. As well as sports, play dates and having time for me. We make it work. My husband is home every night and provides us a secure lifestyle. As I am sure single parenting and being a single mom have differences it feels pretty much the same to me. I respect mom’s that do it on their own, whether voluntary or not. I have plenty of friends that are single moms and one of my sister’s is a divorced mom of two grown children. We need to stand together and support each other rather than compare or label each other.

  10. By your explanation, single parent households who stay home and get financial support from government assistance are also not single parents since they get financial support elsewhere. I was a single parent (by your definition) for 7 years, and I am now a self proclaimed single parent that contradicts your definition. Yes i have a SO. He is a truck driver and is gone for a week to 2 at a time, and sometimes when he is home its for literally 6-8 hours to sleep and is back on the road. I make financial decisions, i make parenting and dietary decisions, i take care of sick children, i home school even. I. Do. Everything. Emotional support is minimal to non existant since hes out on the road and i do not want to distract his attention from the road with my petty problems. I live in a new state and have no relatives or friends around for support. This can and usually is worse than being an “Single” parent.

    1. I think what she is saying is that every parenting situation has it’s own struggles. However, just because you feel alone doesn’t mean that you are in the same place as single mothers.

      I’m the single mother of one child and what people fail to realize is that even if you are essentially doing all of this on your own already, imagine that you continue to do all of that on your own, but without any of the money your husband contributes. So now you have to figure out how to also make as much more money as another person can make just to make ends meet.

      It makes it 100 times harder to raise your children the way you want when you are working hard enough for two people. Not to mention the emotional component that goes with that.

      I decided to go back to school when my son was a year old so that someday I could actually work normal hours and spend some time with him (I was waitressing). Well while I was in school 30 hrs per week I not only had to continue working 50+ hours a week, but actually had to work more hours because I paid my friend to babysit during the day so my mom could get a break. So not only did I miss out on all that time with him (5 days a week I went to school from 8-3 then worked from 3:30-1:30ish am, Saturdays and Sundays I worked double shifts staring at 10. I literally got to see my child less than his father who had him every other weekend.) but on top of that people feel they have the right to tell you their own opinions about your situation.

      As a single mother you would love to see your child. To stay home and spend the day with him. To even have the option to homeschool. But you can’t. It’s not even a possibility. And then you have everyone who has never been in your situation calling you telling you that you shouldn’t work so much, you need to spend time with your child, you don’t realize the emotional toll it will have on your child, etc. I used to go into the bathroom of the restaurant to cry multiple times a shift because I missed my baby so much and I felt I was being demonized by people who had never been in my situation. I graduated by the skin of my teeth because the only way I could see my baby was by skipping school. Skipping work wasn’t an option because I needed the money. I literally graduated with the exact number of days you could miss and still finish.

      It is absolutely not the same thing regardless of what unhappy situation you are in. Luckily my situation has gotten easier since I’m getting settled into my career but I’m still responsible for paying 100% of our bills alone, as well as raising my son to be respectful, smart, responsible, etc. I will never have the choice to homeschool him (even though I would LOVE to as I was homeschooled, myself, until highschool). Even so I won’t have extra money to send him to a private school. I’ll have no choice but to send my son to school through metal detectors because it’s what one person can afford.

      Too often it feels that women claim they are single mothers because they make parenting decisions alone, which is really just the tip of the iceberg. It literally doesn’t even scratch the surface of all the struggles we have to face.

  11. As a widow I am glad I have never come across people using the term to describe an extended leave of absence by their spouses. I would not wish this hell on anyone. Single mom by circumstance, not by choice here. 🙁

  12. I agree!! And have posed this type of question on my FB. I know being a mom is hard work no matter what! But doing it alone with no end in sight isn’t the same as co parenting or having a husband who is there. A person who can be the dad. Or the mom if vice versa. A person to at least step in that roll even if only for a few days here it there. I never have that, I never have a break except for work while he’s in school. Yes other moms I know who are married do a lot of the same tasks I do even when dad is home. They make supper, do homework and baths. And while I do agree, when I here it, it doesn’t bother a lot. However when the non custodial parent wants to call themselves a single parent it pisses me off. Having a child for a few weekends a month Doesn’t make you a single parent. More than likely you get to be the fun parent who doesn’t make rules or make them bathe or do homework. Even if you do those things doing it 4 days a month is not the same as doing it 26-27 days a month. Of course that’s just my opinion.

    1. I agree with you completely! It annoys me when I see single men who have their kids a couple days a month say they’re “single dads”. I’d love to be the fun parent; not have to use my vacation and sick time when going to appointments or taking time off to care for a sick child; say, “Sorry, I can’t take the kids this weekend”; not have to deal with an unruly child who gets kicked out of the afterschool program and try to find a new provider; have the kids only on the “important” holidays, and only for that one day…and plenty other inequities. Let’s face it; the one who can handle being unselfish is the one who makes the sacrifices.

  13. Thank you so much. I enabled my wife to be a stay at home mom for 6 years “her wish” ,my family needs or wants for nothing…in fact we “own” two homes -one a vacation. It would just kill me when I would come home late from work and the first words were “I feel like a single mom”. Being raised buy a true single mom who worked two-and-three jobs at a time….I knew she had no idea. I wish I had these words 15 years ago. GOOD READ

  14. Single mom is a mom who has never been married. A mom who is divorced is a divorced mom, not a single mom. A mom who is widowed is a widowed mom, not a single mom. That should clear it all up.

    1. I just couldn’t label myself in this way – I guess because it feels like I am still attaching myself and my role to a man when I say widowed or divorced, I parented alone for four years and my children had a father who chose to be almost completely absent. Whether he was dead or just gone it didn’t matter except that he caused them to learn distrust and feel rejection. I gave them the love, the nurturing, the company, the laughter, and I gave them boundaries. It was all me along with my mother, their Nana. I am a woman who for four years parented alone, was a single Mum, not a divorced woman and if my ex – a playboy – had been dead I would not have called myself his widow.

    2. I might be divorced but I won’t let that define me. I am single and I am a mom therefore I am a single mom. But mostly I am just a mom.

  15. I was a single mother too. Divorced, no bio father in picture at all, no support. I married again when he was 4. In the 11 years since then, my husband and I have had other children. He works full time and goes to school full time. There have been lengthy periods of time when I was doing everything alone again.

    However, I wasn’t alone. Being solely in charge of everything isn’t the same as being alone. Being alone is when you’re exhausted from working more than 8 hours but you still have to do laundry, make lunches for the following day, bathe your child, and put them to bed with a story and a smile. Being alone is when you’re frightened that your ability to pay not every important bill each month is going to backfire on you, or that your car will break down, or that you’ll get sick and get fired. Being a full time parent isn’t easy, but it’s a hell of a lot more difficult when you’re alone and single. And by single, I mean truly single.

  16. My husband works in the oilfield, gone 10 days and home 5. Family and other people make comments that I am raising our kids alone. It makes me mad and I have found its easiest to just ignore them. They won’t listen to the reality that we are raising them together. He may not always be in our home but anytime he has a chance he is on the phone with us, sometimes on speaker so we can all talk, sometimes just me, both kids are able to call or text or Facebook any time they feel like it. I agree with you that people us some titles like a costume. I love your article

  17. I can see a lot of sides on this one. The most important to me is if we are really going to define a person as a single parent (like me), then it should be 100% true. We tend to use this term in all sorts of situations where it is truly not correct. There is a profound difference for instance between a single, divorced parent who dual parents, shares custody, shares financial issues and has back up and a TRULY single parent like me who is both single (not in a relationship) and has two children from two fathers who have never known thier kids by choice. I didn’t choose to be a single parent, I chose not to give my children up for adoption. The kids fathers chose for me to be a single parent by totally abandoning ship and responsibility. So that means I NEVER get weekends off or money for school clothes or help with decisions. However on the plus side I NEVER have answer to anyone else regarding anything in my life or regarding my children. I like that and enjoy the freedom that offers me. But that is all because I am a TRULY SINGLE PARENT.

  18. The term I use to describe myself is “single mother by choice.” A year after my divorce was finalized, I adopted by son. I’m a single Mom by choice because I chose to become a parent when I was not in a relationship. As it happens, I’ve remained single because, let’s face it, it’s pretty hard to find the time and energy to date when you’re working full-time and parenting when you’re not working. In any event, I appreciated the article because it does bug me when my married friends refer to themselves as “single” Moms. I also perceive a difference between someone who is parenting without a partner and someone who is divorced and is co-parenting. They both have their challenges, but in some ways, they are different challenges. My divorced friends share physical custody of their children with their children’s fathers, which means that they get something that I so rarely get — time to themselves!! And, then, there’s the whole financial burden, which when you are parenting without a partner, rests solely upon your shoulders, and when you are co-parenting, does not. In any event, thanks for your article. I enjoyed it.

  19. Thank you for this article. I’ve had the same experience and it drove me batty when other women joked or moped about being ‘single mothers’ when they had no idea. I am very supportive to women parenting alone and will never forget how excluded I felt so many times. I also found that when the wive leaves and men parent alone people tend to feel sorry for them and praise them to the hilt. When a woman is in the same position people will take it upon themselves to advise her how to parent but they will rarely take the kids for an outing or bring her round a meal. It was the same for my mother when my father died – I sometimes wished I could emblazon ‘widow’ on her forehead. I remember her having to change a tyre in front of a garage because they male mechanics didn’t take pity on her, in contrast they jeered that if she could drive a land rover and a caravan she should do it all herself! Single mothers have been blamed for social ills too. When I went to a (christian) forum on parenting a prominent barrister pronounced that 22 per cent of criminals came from single mother households. Well what about the 78 per cent who didn’t. Many great men and women have been raised by mothers who had to parent alone but we rarely hear them used as examples. The deprivation for families is usually caused by financial stress and this could also be greatly eased if women and mothers and single mothers were treated fairly in a society. At that same forum a married mother stood up and announced that she was going to give up paid work to devote more of herself to her children. She got a huge applause. If I had stood up and said I was on a benefit so I could give more time to my children and that my husband promised child support and refused to pay it I would have found little sympathy and certain no praise. I am now in a good solid partnership and I count my lucky stars that I have company and someone to confide in and that I don’t have to fear I am making my children adults before their time. It isn’t easy all the time – what life is? – but it is real and I have company and someone who shares and that makes a massive difference.

  20. i thoroughly enjoyed your article!!’
    And I completely agree.
    I would also add the divorced Mom who considers herself a single Mom. when she has an Ex who fully participates lovingly and financially to their children!!’as she is living with another it always makes me shake my head in absolute amazement!!!! I quietly remind myself it’s for the attention garnered from her words …

  21. Stop glorifying single moms, it’s ridiculous. Choose better men from the start. Being a single mom isn’t something to be proud of, most children of single parents are products of a broken home and are problematic adults. The level of problem vary, whether it be that they are a man who sleeps around or a whore, this is one of the many issues with our society. So I say again, stop glorifying this non sense you call being a single mom. The only exceptions are widowed moms.

    1. How about when you plan a pregnancy with a partner and that partner was the one to sit you down and have a talk about said future and then once the time comes and that pregnancy test comes up positive they leave? You’re ignorant and don’t have any idea what kind of struggle it is to be a single parent. Sometimes situations prevent the parents from staying together due to safety and harms way. Ridiculous.

    2. I have been a single mother for most of my youngest child’s life. None of my children are “problematic adults”. They are educated, gainfully employed, contributing members of society. They have never been in trouble with the law, apart from minor traffic violations here and there. In fact, I get told all the time what fantastic humans they are.

      I followed “the rules”. I married my highschool sweetheart, who comes from a decent family and seemed like one of those “better men” you suggest we single mothers should have chosen. We had 4 children together in 8 years. Then he met someone at his work and had an affair, which caused us to get a divorce. Since the divorce, my children’s father has spent an ever-decreasing amount of time in their lives, to the point that in the calender year 2014, he saw my youngest child for a total of 2 non-consecutive days.

      When a parent is not involved in his child’s life (through choice or otherwise), the remaining parent’s only option is to get on with things as best they can. This “getting on with things” looks different in each situation, and it is not appropriate for anyone else (especially someone who hasn’t lived a similar situation) to judge.

      “Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

    3. Wow Joni, so you basically think every single parent is a whore? I was in a committed relationship, using birth control (NuvaRing and condoms), and still became pregnant. He said he wasn’t ready to be a dad and walked away. No one is perfect, so stop pretending you are.

      MATTHEW 7:1-5 “Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast the mote out of thy brother’s eye”

  22. In your introduction you say, one isn’t harder than the other, but then go on to say being a single mom is harder than being a married one with a spouse who’s gone all the time. Each has its trials and they are really apples and oranges. But by reading this you declare single mothering is harder. But I know single moms who say it’s easier than living in the marriage they had. So really, you are talking about your own experience. How do you know some mom out there married, hubby is around but let’s say he gambles all the money away and she has to make ends meet and hide money etc. Still easier than of he were gone? So, I think people need to chill. It’s America say what ya want.

  23. Thank you for this article and your point about harm reduction is well taken. There really is a difference between single mothers and those who have a signifcant other that may be nearly completely worthless in contributions. I lived with a husband that contributed absolutely nothing to child rearing, lost jobs repeatedly and beat me when he was in a bad mood. The entire family walked on eggshells, he was the infant that never grew up. At times I felt like he was far more burden than contribution, and yet, there was still another adult in the family so when the car broke down it wasn’t entirely on me while dealing with 3 children.

    My daughter by contrast had a partner who left town when she got pregnant. She did her pregnancy and birth alone, the first 4 years completely alone and with minimal contribution. She had to move into a homeless shelter for a time. She works 2 jobs, is trying to go to school, keep her car running, and in health care. Its a disaster if her child gets sick because she will get written up at work for being late, or taking time off and put the only income keeping her out of a homeless shelter at risk.

    She gets no “me” time, ever and she is bone tired. There is also stigma attached to being a single mother as one commentator revealed here. In my own family the religious claws came out full of judgement and contempt about her single mother status in which my daughter’s grandparents refused to allow her to come visit with her new baby. That is a layer of contempt and judgment that widows won’t have to deal with. Single mothers have no insulation from the sharks in the water, from life, there is no rest. My observations made me appreciate this article. There are degrees of suffering too, single mothers with a lot of supportive family that pitch in and help and an accepting community are struggling, but worse, are those single moms’ with rejecting harsh families, few friends and no where to turn. They are the tiredest, loneliest and most misunderstood people in America….

  24. THANK YOU so much for writing this! I have been saying this for years and you just eloquently expressed anything I ever could’ve said! So true, all of it! Kuddos.

  25. i’m a fater to my son. he spends half the week with me, and is a year old infant. i go to school full time, work part time, and his mother also attends school full time. we share meals about three or four nights of the week, where the cooking cleaning duties are shared. i also help clean up her apartment to keep ahead, since, she still in technically the primary caregiver. i go to her apartment when she goes out on dates because it means some extra snuggle and reading time with my boy.
    here’s the thing: she calls herself a single mom. i guess she is, really, because we’re not partnered, and we don’t live together. i take the bus back and forth between our houses and she uses our shared car because transporting a baby on public transit can be a nightmare. but she calls herself a single mom. to her friends. her dates. strangers.

    and it hurts. it invisibilized me.

    but it’s okay. because i will never, ever let her find out the difference. i love my boy too much for that. and maybe her, too.

  26. To the “single” but married parents out there. Why did you take a vow to be married if you are going to consider yourself single? I feel that if your husbands heard you referring to yourself as single they would be extremely offended. I’ve been a single mother since I conceived my baby girl. (Fathers mother attacked me while pregnant and he left us only weeks into the pregnancy.) So yes there are similar struggles if your husband is out of town, but you have contact. Over the phone, email, snail mail, etc. As a very single mother I am sensitive to married couples; men or women, referring to themselves as a single parent. As a single parent there is no other income (not even child support due to safety), you can’t take a time out when you need to, there is no time alone, you have to do all the shopping yourself, provide a roof over your head and baby’s head by yourself, call and fight with insurance yourself, etc. And with those just being a few things of many single parent duties, there is no one to vent to, to visit with and share what happened with “little Jimmy” today or share excitement when they first potty in the potty. Also, when you’re taking baby to the doctors, there are families that obviously go together. But receptionists do ask if (in my situation) the father is coming and we need his information. Well, you’re not getting it because he left us high and dry. The looks we get as single parents is astounding and more judgemental than anything. I just can’t imagine ever calling myself a single parent when I’m married. It’s extremely immature, offensive to the other partner!, and ignorant.
    At the same time as a single parent, you can twist it and be ecstatic that YOU taught your baby everything they know. To crawl, walk, talk, potty on the potty!, and so much more. Sometimes that’s reward enough.

  27. I parent alone, and have always done so — with no family nearby. I work full-time to support our family of two. My son spends a lot of time — too much time — in pre-school. I “compensate” by never hiring babysitters, but I feel constantly guilty about the time we spend apart. I have been exhausted for years. There is simply never enough time to parent well and work well. Of the two, parenting matters so much more. But if the work isn’t good, the work goes away. That would make parenting so much more difficult! This article resonates with the exhausted part of me that sometimes resents, despite my own choices, the lack of time to even take a one-hour nap. But the responses from those who feel differently resonate as well. Moms who expected the dads to be there all of the time … are also alone, for different reasons, in very similar ways. Alone is very much like single, because alone is one (even if alone, for someone not truly single, is more temporary). I choose to be philosophical about it. Worth noting is that “real” single has a great upside. Naming my son, for example, went like this: “Hm. I feel like naming him ___.” Done! Decision-making without intervention can be more difficult, but can be so much easier! More generally … We all — happily married; married, but alone; single and dating; single with no date in sight; et al. — are trying our best to raise great kids. So … As always, the label doesn’t (and shouldn’t) really matter. I’ve heard non-single moms repeatedly refer to themselves as single. Yeah, sometimes it annoys the heck out of me (as, for example, when a a happily married and fully employed colleague with helpful and live-in support from parents, her husband, and a 40-hour-per-week au pair complained, over the phone, while en route to a pilates class, that her husband’s weekend golf outing with buddies left her understanding what it’s like to be a single mom). But, generally, I find that people are or try to be very understanding. I also, for what it’s worth, think that, as soon as the parent-to-child ratio is 1:1 (as in a two-parent, two-child family), everyone faces “single parent” challenges. And parents with MORE than two kids? I salute them!

  28. I completely agree with this article. My husband is an over the road truck driver. Even when he was a local drive, he worked 12-14 hour days so he was basically home long enough to eat dinner and sleep before working. I would never consider myself a single mom in my position. The term I use is solo parenting because as far as parenting goes, I’m mostly doing it on my own, but that doesn’t mean I’m single. If I were single, I would also be out in the workforce trying to juggle what I have right now plus a career, probably near poverty level because of my skill set, my kids would be on Medicaid, food stamps, and WIC (no shame if it’s needed, we had to do that before as a married couple with us both working), I wouldn’t have his emotional support even when he’s on the road, etc.

    On another note, before I had kids I had been widowed myself. Widowed from that person is forever. He liked gaming, RPG’s, computer, etc. Sometimes I would lose entire weekends to his hobby. Did that make me a gaming widow? Hell no! What made me a widow was when I had to give the OK to take him off of life support and watch him draw his last breath. There’s a huge difference.

  29. Great article Kristen! When my sons were newborns my husband worked nights and slept all day until he would go to work again. I had no help from him with caring for the kids. I often said that I was “living like a single mom”, but then I started working at a domestic violence shelter and realized what being a single mother with zero assistance financially or in any way looked like. It looks like evictions because even working 50 hours per week won’t pay the rent, the electric, the water, the gas money, etc. It looks like knowing your baby daddy is out there living it up but refusing to pay child support and then getting locked up and then being unable to pay instead of “just” unwilling. It looks like kids who grow up too fast because they have to. Yes, some single mothers are well off financially, but they often have to work crazy hours at 2 jobs or have high-pressure jobs and they pay a price for that as well. Having to do it all alone is something I have never experienced and I have nothing but the highest respect for mothers shouldering all of the responsibility. I will never again say I am “like a single mom” unless I literally am one.

  30. lonely does NOT = single

    Sadly, people of any marital / relationship status can and do feel lonely.
    Being with another person is no guarantee against loneliness or feeling alone.
    The fact remains that NOT all lonely parents are single parents.
    A weekend or even extended period of time being the only parent “on call” may give you a small glimpse into the reality of single parenthood but it is NOT the same.
    It is no small thing to be the sole parent for one’s children.
    If you are not sure which you are,
    check your marital / relational status.

    That being said, my heart goes out to those of you in relationships who are lonely. It hurts to be lonely.
    Though I am a single mother, I am not alone.
    A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
    is God in his holy dwelling. – Ps. 68:5

  31. My husband’s ex-wife keeps calling herself a single mom. I keep reminding her that she is not a single mom. The stepkid’s dad pays child support 100%, we have the kids 3 or 4 days a week, we clothe and feed them, and we do their homework with them. We attend every PTA meeting and have input in their schooling and healthcare. She really wants to call herself a single mom, but she is a co-parent. So I call her a co-parent. She hates that.

  32. This article reads judgmental to me. No matter who we are, we all have trials and tribulations, past traumas. Millionaires just as much as low-income households. If someone is having a hard time parenting, and feels like they’re doing it on their own, maybe you should listen to their story instead of comparing your life to theirs.

  33. My husband works a lot (60-80 hours a week). So I am often parenting solo. I have to make a lot of decisions on my own and it is almost always on me to take care of the kids. ALMOST. I am not single mom. I would never claim that title unless I were actually single. My mom was a single mom for a time and it is totally different. First of all, I don’t have to work outside of the home. My husband pays all of the bills. Yes I often have to go to the grocery store alone with both kids but I don’t have to worry about how I am going to afford groceries, or clothes, or housing. I talk to my husband regularly. Sometimes that is on the phone during his commute but I can talk to him. He supports me emotionally. In all honesty I almost feel like I pretty much only experience the “good” parts of single motherhood in this situation. Because my husband, doesn’t have a lot of time for household decisions and duties, I am pretty independent and basically he just goes along with whatever parenting choices I make. But the thing is he is there to support me in my choices. If I really NEEDED him, he could and would leave work to come help me. So no I am not a single mom. My mom, who worked 2-3 jobs at a time and then came home to take care of all of us and the house with no one to help her or support her in any way, SHE was a single mom. She is my hero.

    1. I could see though how someone could feel like a single mom if they were married to someone who wasn’t pulling their weight. For example, before my mom became a single mom, she was married to my dad who (though he was ok at the beginning of their marriage) did absolutely nothing but stay home all day playing video games, drinking, and smoking weed, while she worked 2 jobs and took care of the house and us kids. He hardly ever even talked to us except to yell and he sure as heck didn’t support my mom emotionally or in any other way. It was so bad that the day she kicked him out things actually got better almost instantaneously. She was already doing all the work. Cutting him loose just made doing all the work easier.


  35. I wholeheartedly agree- being a single mom is the toughest job, and I cannot even imagine the hardships. There is a big (huge) difference between being a single mom and having your co-parent away for a while- it is not the same in any way shape or form. But I know that difference when I have said I feel like a single mom when my husband has been constantly travelling and I can only communicate with him if it were an emergency. And, I never have said that to a single mom. They deserve utmost respect in my opinion.

    This is relative to who you say this to and what you really feel. Just as I would never complain about my children to someone who is trying to conceive unsuccessfully, I would never say in front of a single mom that I feel like a single mom. But I have complained to my friends who have children about my children, and I have said that I feel like a single mom to my friends who have 9-5 job husbands.

    You have every right to be sensitive to this type of comment and have it anger you. Just know you probably make comments that would offend someone somewhere at some time. I get irritated when my friends who live in wealthy neighborhoods complain about money problems, but they are my friends and I can empathize with them, even if it doesn’t make sense to me.

  36. I’m 19 years old and I found out I was pregnant in March 2014 I was single and the father didn’t want anything not do with me so I called my self a soon to be a single mom and that scared me shitless I would cry almost every night because I was so scared but then I met my boyfriend and now having my beautiful daughter and I honestly do not know how I would ee oown this by myself as a single mother now I have my boyfriend and everyday I am greatful for that because evenbthough he is gone sometimes like you said I still have everything of his around me and his love in me and because of him I feel blessed to say I am NOT a single mother

  37. If I may…

    I think we mothers, all of us, are missing a word. A word that we need.

    When a partnered mother says “I may as well be a single mom” we know what is meant: my marriage is failing me and my children.

    There isn’t one word I know of yet to replace ‘I feel single’, but pop culture will one day coin one to make our park chats clearer.

    In the meantime, what that woman beside you is saying is: “Hear my cry”. She is single, she is partnered, she is widowed, divorced – you, a mom, will know what she is trying to say even as you cringe over her use of the word ‘single’, which a decade ago was such a fun word for all of us.

  38. My husband worked away from home 5 days a week from March to November. Unfortunately he was paying back losses from the business and unable to pay himself so I still bore all the burden of all finances. I was working 4-5 days a week, juggling getting to childminder, being a mum, running a house, gardening with a husband so tired he slept when he was home and we only had about half a day together. In comparison my single mum friend was able to go out one evening a week and have weekends off. Other friends used to joke I was like a single mom but without the benefits. Don’t get me wrong, that one quality afternoon we would spend together every weekend was glorious. Everyone has different circumstances. I think it would more lonely being with someone who is physically present but emotionally and mentally not there though they might be helping support financially.

  39. As a single mom from day 1, (now into my 10th year with 3 kids), i have never felt any negative emotion due to my unpartnered status. I love every minute of being a single mother. Of course there are always challenges to parenting, but for me, never because i am single.

  40. I dont know where my post went, but as a single mother of 10 plus years, single by choice, i enjoy every minute of it, and never feel lonely because of it. There’s a lot i cant do anymore, but surely the compromises of parenting exist for both single and married parents alike. Married parents have to make a fair few compromises themselves for the sake of their partnership. I read somewhere that marriage that doesnt put the relationship first, is not a marriage, its childcare.

    Whereas, i put my children first, and wouldnt allow anything to change that.

    I love being a single mom! No complaints here.

  41. I dont know where my post went, but as a single

    mother of 10 plus years, single by choice, i enjoy

    every minute of it, and never feel lonely because of

    it. There’s a lot i cant do anymore, but surely

    the compromises of parenting exist for both single

    and married parents alike. Married parents have to

    make a fair few compromises themselves for the sake

    of their partnership. I read somewhere that marriage

    that doesnt put the relationship first, is not a

    marriage, its childcare.

    Whereas, i put my children first, and wouldnt allow

    anything to change that.

    I love being a single mom! No complaints here.

  42. I’ve had single-mom friends say basically the same as this article, so I have stopped referring to myself as a single mom. Just by way of explanation (not argument), I think the reason people use the term is not because they think what they’re experiencing is exactly the same as what a true single mom goes through. Instead, they’re comparing their situation to their norm (husband home), or to what they see friends/neighbors who are married experiencing. And compared to that, having your husband gone, especially for long periods of time, seems like single parenting, even if a comparison to the life of an actual single mother leaves you grateful for whatever level of partner involvement you still have.

  43. I have been a single mother unfortunately for 25 years , I was married to a wonderful man who died after nearly four years of marriage leaving me with three sons to raise , aged 3 , 2 and 9 months, I miss him still and mourn his loss every day , he was really special and I wouldn’t ever try and replace him.
    The only woman who made a disparaging comment about being a single mum was my Arabic tutors wife a few years later when I studied Arabic at university towards a Bachelors degree . This particular woman was bemoaning her husbands absence for a whole WEEKEND !in France as he was lecturing at the Sorbonne, by telling her children in front of me , that this weekend we are going to be a single parent family as papa is away. I silently seethed inside as I wondered if she realised the significance of her words, I knew that she had her own hardships , she had six children , but basically she wasn’t a tender hearted woman and always seemed to have a grudge against her husband and the rest of the world in general . I was younger then than I am now and felt that she was somewhat jealous of me as I was about ten years younger than her , and as one of the few female Muslim students that her husband taught he often showed kindness to me which she did not appreciate at all . For example we lived in a remote Welsh village , some distance from the university and it was her husband’s habit to pass the bus stop in the village where I would wait at 8.30 with my sons to catch the local bus and take them to school , when I let slip that he picked us up one day , she told me that I must never accept a lift from him again as it was un Islamic for her husband an acclaimed University Professor to be seen offering me a lift , as I was a woman and he was a man and Islamic segregation should be observed . I remember thinking at the time of all the mornings and afternoons we had waited for buses which had been late and how my sons were excited at the prospect of a ride home in a car , it was so unfair , I remember her saying that she would request her husband never to do it again , and if I was desperate then I could ring her and ask her for a lift , a proposal I never felt I could make as she was always busy at home with her children , whose ages ranged from 17 to about two years. As I say over the years I have put it into the context of jealousy but I must say that this woman was the only one whom I felt had no respect or consideration for my status

  44. This is a good article. I’ve been widowed since 2006 when my kids were 3 months and 3 years old. It really does hurt to hear people complain about their partner being away for a weekend, or a week. I know that is not their intention at all. It probably stems more from feeling that so few people understand the challenges (including family, le sigh) and it’s a reminder of that. Not to mention the other nonsense people attach to the phrase “single mom,” which is another article. I think there is something about the way people say it, in that joking way, that emphasizes that they are, in fact, not a single mom and they are accentuating the difference.

  45. I have heard this and thought it was strange. I’ve also heard the widow joke. I completely agree.

    New element to add to it: I have also heard moms refer to themselves as single parents when their ex-husbands are actually nearby, present, and co-parenting- and also willing to parent more! I have also heard divorced moms refer to themselves as single parents even when they are remarried!

    Yet, when I talk to true single moms, ones whose husbands did leave and chose to not be in their kids’ lives, they state that they WISH their exes, no matter how much they dislike them, would have been more present. They wish they had been able to co-parent.

    So, I guess all around, the term is being overused and abused. Great article.

  46. I agree. Please notice also that it is a very different thing to be a true single mom, who is completely doing it on her own–being financially completely responsible for the children and caring for them–and to be a divorced “single mom” who is receiving child support and not caring for the child all the time. Sure, that can be hard in its own way, but it isn’t the same thing. If you are receiving financial support from someone else and sharing the child care, it is not the same thing as being a single mom who is both earning a living to support the kids and caring for them.

    1. Hi Susan,
      Even when I was a remarried single mom I was still totally responsible financially for my kids as I did not receive child support from their father and my then-husband didn’t feel it was his responsibility to support children who weren’t his. I agree that I have had a real problem with choosing men who were not good for me or my children. I don’t think I am that unusual in that respect as I know many women who feel the same way. It is not a perfect world, we are not all perfect people, but with any luck at all we learn something new every day.

  47. I can relate to what you say Kristen, as well as the different feelings of others who have posted comments. I was a single mom as i not married for much of the time I was raising my children. Then I thought I would be no-a-single-mom when I remarried. I was wrong. My husband put himself and his child first. I was not to correct or direct his child yet he felt totally justified in threatening my child with eviction because he didn’t like the way she talked to him one day. I put up with all kinds of disrespect from my step-daughter ( “I’m sorry I can’t help you with your work, my friends are expecting me” and draping her 24 year old body across my husband’s lap while we are having a family get together with my children and grandchildren). Yes, I have been a doormat and a wimp. I am just plain tired of having to defend myself and my self-esteem. My children are all grown now and my husband is off in Europe with my step-daughter because I can’t take the time off from grad school. I still feel like a single parent and can’t seem to get away from that. Not bitter, just tired of a situation I can’t afford to change.

  48. This is so true. And people do get offended when you call them on their treatment of the concept “single parent” as a costume. It’s totally different when you share the responsibilities of parenting with another – when you know that there is someone else in the world who will shelter and care for your child just as you would – knowing this allows you a bit of emotional reprieve. It’s like you know that someone else has your child’s back.

    When you are a solo parent (in our case the other parent has all but disappeared) it’s all you. There is no one else to even imagine would care for your child and love them as you do. It’s beyond just the physical and financial — which in and of itself is HUGE — it’s an emotional hue that you wear 24/7. I have friends who don’t like their spouses, or their spouses work all the time —- and they call themselves single parents. It’s crazy. Not that I would want their spouses – but to be able to have another person to share the responsibility of parenting would be a mental break.

    Also, kids of single parents know that they are kids of single parents. And if the other parent is not around, they are aware of this each and every day…. they wear it too – like a film around them. It’s not a costume – it’s a thing that comes from the inside out.

    Thank you for writing. Would it be too obnoxious for me to forward to my friends who consider themselves single parents, but really aren’t!?!?!


  49. Kristen things seem very clear cut to you. So you were a single mum, now you are married, that is great. I had a very different experience with my daughter which involved my moving in and out of various stages of single and not single mum. I became pregnant and was going to have an abortion but the father told me to think about keeping it because he thought it would make me happy and that he would help me out. We were ‘together’ in a sense but also not for several years, Now we don’t live together any more but he has her half the time. So according to you am I a single mum or not? Or at what point was I if ever? Honestly I don’t really care about how other people want to define me using labels like single mum but at times if I have felt this meaningful I have used it to describe my situation. To be honest he is more helpful now we are not living together anyways. So probably I used the phrase single mum before more.

    I know it’s easy to presume that you understand the pain or loneliness of others but don’t be so arrogant. You have no idea of my pain just like I have none about yours. But I would not presume to be so arrogant as to tell you that you may not use a phrase or word that you find meaningful. Me saying or not saying I am a single mum has nothing to do with you. Learn to have compassion for others and you will learn to empathise with their feelings rather than feeling hurt when they also express their pain. I am so crippled and paralysed by my lifetime family pain I can hardly live my life on a functional level. The last thing I need is someone telling me that words I may or may not find meaningful I can or cannot use because they don’t fit into that persons understanding of reality. But then neither of us should be getting upset, we should just have empathy with each other even though I might view you as being over privileged that you can even say what you have just said and remember that sticks and stones might break my bones but words can never harm you.

  50. I also feel this to be true for moms (or dads) that claim the difficulties of being a single parent in the cases of divorce where the parents share the kids. They may be single, but not really single parents. I understand that the days you have them, you have to do EVERYTHING for them. I get that. But, you also have a benefit that truly single moms (and married moms) don’t have. The days that the other has them. Days you can call your own (even if you work those days – you still get to come home and NOT care for them). Single moms and Married moms don’t have that every week. They don’t have that built in break.

    The part of the article that speaks VOLUMES, though. Is the part where she says (not in these words) ALL parenting is hard. None of us have a perfect scenario – not even those that are married. So, please don’t think I am belittling any form of parenting, just that we should choose to see the benefits that we have in the situation we are in. Single moms get to experience the kids ALL the time (good and bad). Moms that are single but share with dad, get more breaks that they can more easily squeeze in errands and girls’ nights, etc. Married moms have a dad in the house to share the daily tasks/joys.

  51. I’m with you. I was a single mom — father long gone, no child support, no grandparents, etc. — for over ten years. Anyone who thinks being without their hubby or partner for a few days, weeks or even months is the same as being single isn’t listening. The very hardest thing of all for me was not the hard times, not the illnesses or the car break downs, etc. The hard part was when my son did something really wonderful, something sweet, something new . . . and there was no one who really cared with whom I could share it. Not his first tooth, is first word, his first step, or any of the other big milestones or small moments. No family, no best girlfriend. All I did was work, and come home exhausted to fix meals, do laundry, pay bills and spend time with my son. People don’t often “choose” single moms for friends. If they are married, they don’t want us around their husband. If they are without kids, they don’t want to hear about ours. If they are single moms, just like me, they don’t have the time. Oh, if there had been someone I could turn to or call and say, Guess what happened today! and share my proud news. This was in the day before texts, before facebook, before email, even before caller ID. Years have passed and I am a married grandma now. But I pray for every single mom out there for the strength to make it through her day, for finances to cover emergencies, and for friends who will take the time to show some interest in the mom and her kid(s). It’s worth more than words could ever say.

  52. There is a difference between being a single parent and a solo parent – I am a single parent, but my kid’s Dad is involved in their lives and pays child support. So, I don’t parent alone (though it feels like it sometimes – I am definitely the default parent, as someone on this thread so nicely put it!)

    I take my hat off to all solo parents – you guys really do it hard, especially when you don’t have other family support/nurturing people in your lives.

    However, as single parents, we have our own battles. I have to run a family household which makes provision for all my kids needs, even if they are not here all the time. If I were ‘just’ single, I could have a studio apartment – but that’s not an option for a family of 4. This makes a substantial financial and administrative burden of itself.
    Also, you fall through a lot of social gaps (as our solo parent allies will know) – I can’t join any of the clubs/social groups that meet during the evening on weekdays, as I would need the budget for a baby-sitter to do so. When my kids are away some weekends, I don’t get invited to family-group BBQs (or what ever) because I am a single woman. I also don’t get invited to couple dinners or outings because I don’t bring a man along for the other husbands to talk to…. you get the drift. Sometimes its like living in a parallel universe… or a plastic bubble.
    Like so many of you, my family are supportive, but don’t live nearby. If we need to make a trip to the emergency room, everyone has to come, even if its 3am. This is challenging with an exhausted pre-schooler in tow!
    I am so aware of the fact that, whatever happens in our lives, its up to me to deal with it, coz there is no-one else to share the load with. Sometimes, that’s empowering; sometimes just plain tough.
    I find I need to make sure I get good sleep, because being ill is not really an option.

    I feel very fortunate in my life because I am able to manage, thanks to the financial support I get from my ex and my family (I also work part-time). I know my family is in a much better position than many families out there, including some families with 2 parents at home.
    There are many different ways that life as a parent can be hard – I think lack of help and support is the biggest problem facing many moms today. If you’re parenting single or solo then the impact is even greater. We all need to give each other as much love and support as we can manage!

  53. So what box do you check on the form? Most of you “single moms” are actually married moms, separated moms, or divorced moms. A single person is someone who has NEVER been married. I am sick of people calling themselves single when they are actually divorced. You don’t get to be single again.

  54. I intensely dislike it when divorced mothers call themselves “single mothers” when the child’s father is active and in the picture. My husband shared custody 50/50 with his ex-wife and paid an enormous amount of child support, but she would still call herself a single mom all the time. Ugh.

  55. Thank you for saying this!

    Over and over I have heard friends and relatives complain about being a “single” mom because their partner is away. And though I don’t usually say anything, it still bothers me… especially when I am at a stressful point of being a full-time student, part-time worker and mother who is trying to manage all the financial responsibilities, household responsibilities and still be the best possible parent I can be. They still get to share with a partner the joys and the pains, the responsibilities and the rewards. They have someone who can – hopefully – provide emotional, mental, physical and financial support.

    I am a single mom not by choice. My son’s father left first when I was pregnant and then came back for a few months and then left again when my son was 3 months old after being with another woman for most of that time. My son’s father has VERY limited contact with him that is supervised (but he does pay child support) and though my son is only 2 he has already gone a period of 18 months without seeing him. My son and I live alone and though I do have supportive family and an amazing daycare, it doesn’t help with the day to day responsibilities or the overwhelming feelings that can occur. Though I know I should try not to be overly sensitive, it honestly makes me feel like people are making light of the situation that I am in when they refer to themselves as a “single parent” when they aren’t. Not that I am saying being a single parent is all bad, I get to make all the decisions and get to experience all the pride and joy when my son learns something new or shows off his skills.

  56. I am a single mother, and I understand how one might be offended by another saying they are a single mom when in fact they are not. There have even been times when I have gotten irrated at the situation. I am fortunate enough to have the support of my family, but my son does not have a father around nor do we recieve financial support. I know women who’s husbands are gone Monday – Friday working. I also know women who have the support of their child’s father but are not together and they get the harder part of the job. In no way would I say that any of us women have it harder than the other, we are all equally going through our own struggles as best we can. Hoping to raise amazing children. I try to remember that and understand that by stating that they are a single mother is them opening the door for the emotional support we can provide to each other, even if they articulate it in the wrong way.

  57. Alot of women writing these comments are taking major personal offense over this article, and i think you are missing the point… she’s not saying that if you’re married there’s no struggles etc… she’s just trying to give credit where credit is due – being a single parent is very very hard on a lot of ways, and calling yourself one when you’re not is kind of a diss when you have the very things single moms want and need the very most – emotional, financial, physical support of a man who loved you enough to MARRY you.

    It’s validation that single moms don’t get, you feel worthless, unwanted and alone. You feel like nobody wants you or will ever want you, you have to work 50+ hours a week to give your kids the normal stuff like a rented house with a yard you HAVE to go to the salvation army at Christmas and get food from the food bank so you can afford presents, you CAN’T AFFORD to get sick, and there nobody who cares about how hard you work, and the struggles you face, and the sheer amount of effort you put into it all. And at the end of the day, there’s no one to sit and talk to, to share things with. You end up developing personal relationship to things like netflix and Facebook lol.

    I can’t imagine what it’s like for some military wives to be without their loved ones for so long, and i cannot relate to those struggles faced by women holding down the fort, but at the end of the day…. you really don’t know what it’s like to be judged and excluded because you’re single with kids, to try and connect with people just to be dismissed because you have children. It does happen. And the rejection has a sting when you’re alone. Solo parenting and single parenting are different, there are different struggles and different rewards associated with both. I read a quote once that seems fitting,

    ” saying something matters doesn’t mean other things dont, like when you say save the rainforsets, it doesn’t mean fuck all the other types of forsets”.

    (single mom since 19, have a beautiful 6 yr old boy and a gorgeous 11 month old girl. 1st dad walked out, 2nd one was product of rape, no child suppot, no anything support, no goverment help, working my ass off to give my kids a shot at life, paying $1000/mo rent on a 609 sqft house just so my kids have a yard to play in. Get up at 430 am, daycare by 530, work by 6, home at 530PM sometimes 6 days a week, have to cook, clean, bathe, and bed 2 monkeys and myself before 8 just to do it all again tomorrow. No money to go places, no treats at the store, no trips to the zoo, no one to sit with at night, or to help carry groceries, or to change my oil and fix my tires, or tell me they love me and send me money. No Days OFF…. tell me you can relate with that)

  58. The only thing that I disagree with in this article is the notion that if you are a military spouse you are emotionally cared for. Not all wives get email or letters or phone calls. Many of us go 5+ months without ANY communication from our spouses. Submariners for instance leave and are garunteed zero communication for the entire deployment. They leave and how ever many months later you get a call that there back. Financially, yes we have help. But these people we get to vent with and cry to and get support and encouragement from don’t exist. Just a side note***

  59. Thank you so much for acknowledging this. Thank you, thank you! I tried to make this same argument with mom’s who were divorced and the dad was not around physically but still paid child support. And still visited the child when he could. Or divorced moms who don’t receive child support but that dad is still around for the kids. They laugh with him, talk with him.

    I just remarried this year after being a widow for almost 16 years. I had no husband or father around physically, mentally or financially. One parent = single parent.

    Some people still hate that I feel this way it one is one, not two, not one and a half. Not a eighth, ya know?

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