SAY WHAT: Things You Should Never Say To A Single Mother


I’ve learned from my friends who are single mothers that they face a lot of criticism and personal questions. When I think back, I’ve been guilty of “feeling bad” for single mothers too or celebrating them like they’re heroes. Let’s avoid more awkward moments in the line at the grocery store when you notice a single mother. Keep your mind on the delicious meal at your next big family gathering, instead of asking your niece with three kids when she’s going to “find a father” for her kids and get married. Here are some things you should never say to a single mother regarding parenting, their child’s father and whether marriage is in her future.

Mother-Father Relationship

There seems to be as assumption that a single mother did something to drive her child’s father away. Strangers and family members ask invasive questions like:

“Why isn’t their father around?”

“Why did you break up?”

“Why didn’t you want to get married?”

I cringed just writing that. Can you imagine what it’s like being asked to explain a painful breakup to someone? If a single mother wants to talk about a past relationship, let her initiate the conversation. Don’t pry. It’s none of your business.

Father-Child Relationship

Yes, it’s important for children to have a close relationship with their father. Just because a couple isn’t married, don’t assume their child is losing out. Plenty of unmarried parents are co-parenting well and sharing custody of their children.

Single mothers of little girls told me they’re often asked, ““Don’t you worry they’ll have Daddy issues when they are older?” Ugh. That question is based on the assumption that little girls who don’t live with their fathers will have issues. Single mothers don’t want to hear your sad forecast for their children’s lives because their parents aren’t married.

“Do you get child support?” is another common question single mothers are asked. It’s uncomfortable to answer especially when it’s asked in front of their children. It insinuates that a “good father” pays child support and a “bad father” doesn’t.  Financial support is important, but it’s not the only piece of a puzzle to raising a child.


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