5 Things You Should Never Say to a Single MotherI was a single mother for the first four years of my first child's life. Through that experience, I learned that people often don't know how to react tactfully to such a situation -- and some folks lack a filter in a cringeworthy way.

Like any form of parenting, single parenting is hard, and it can be hard in different ways.

In the name of kindness, sensitivity, and boosting up parents who really need it, here are 5 things you should never say to a single mother:

1. "My husband is gone this weekend, so I'm a single mom too!"

Single mothers go through a specific struggle that only single mothers can know. It's okay to have different life experiences -- and it's good to acknowledge and respect those differences. What's not okay is to adopt someone else's experiences, as though they are a costume you can put on and take off at will.

Just like it would be extremely inappropriate for a mother to claim she is a widow, or a military mom, it is also thoughtless to claim to be a single mother without actually being one.

2. "I feel so bad for you!"

Single parenting is hard, but pity doesn't help much. Put those feelings into action and offer to watch the kids, do the dishes, or take her out for coffee.

3. "I just don't know how you do it."

Often meant as a compliment, it doesn't quite sit right. We do it because we have to. When I was a single parent, it was all I knew, and I adapted immediately because I had to. Every nap time, every bedtime, every diaper, every crying spell, every tantrum, every life lesson -- I did it all. There were no other options.

4. "Don't you worry about your kid not having a dad?"

I understand that people get curious, but this one just stings. Yes, we probably do worry at times about what our children might experience without a dad. For me, at the time, my concern was the opinions of other children -- kids who might treat my son like a weirdo because he "only" had a mom.

Rather than the inherent effect of not having a father present, I was worried about others judging us for our situation. The fact is, single parents can raise their children just fine, without harm, without damage, and with the right support.

5. "How are you ever going to meet someone?"

I think this is a common fear among single parents. Most of us want genuine companionship, partnership, and a good parent for our child and future children.

It is hard to meet people as a single parent. It's difficult to know who to trust, it's tough to get out of the house and get to know people. When I was a single parent, I didn't date for four years. Putting pressure on single parents to get out there and meet someone isn't helpful.

The right person will come in time, and being a single parent helps to efficiently raise standards and lower tolerance for unhealthy behavior. Encourage single parents to take their time and find empowerment in being alone.

Here's what you can say, and do, to be supportive instead:

1. Remember single moms on Mother's Day.

Ask them to celebrate with you, if possible, or: send them a card, drop off food and flowers, or simply reach out to let them know you're thinking of them.

2. Feed them.

All parents can relate to the hustle of preparing dinner every night, and when I was a single mom, I couldn't afford to get take-out whenever I was in a rush. One of the best things friends did for me was bring me food, especially during my postpartum period.

3. Help them if they are in need.

A friend in my local natural parenting group announced that she had a friend who was soon to be a new mom and she didn't have much. We organized an event on Facebook to gather supplies for her: baby clothes, cloth diapers, toys, a carrier, and more. I also had people donate baby things to me during my first pregnancy, and it was greatly appreciated.

4. Teach your kids that all families are different.

Some families have one mom, or one dad. Some families have a mom and a dad who are married and live together, or are separated and co-parenting. Some families have two moms or two dads. Teach these normal variations of family to your child.

5. Tell them they're doing a great job.

Tell them they are raising their kids well and that you're proud of them.