10 Questions You Never Want to Ask a Single Mother


Parenting is difficult on the best days. Kids need; they need everything. They need love, attention, respect, discipline, someone to steer them in the right direction, someone to set a good example for them and someone to be and do and say just about all the other things that kids need each and every day to grow into respectable, kind, successful young adults. And being a single parent makes that job even more difficult. While I’m not a single mother, I do know several, and I know that the job they do is far more than the job that I do. While I might complain that moms don’t get a day off, I know that if I’m not feeling well, my husband steps up and takes over all my duties so that I can rest in bed all day long. I also know that at the end of the day, he’s home to help with dinner, baths, cleaning, bedtimes and everything in between. I look forward to his arrival in the evenings since he is my break.

Single moms don’t get that break. They haven’t the arrival of their spouse at the end of the day to look forward to for help and assistance, or just someone they feel is on their team. The job done by single mothers is above and beyond anything that the rest of us do, and single moms deserve some serious accolades for their roles in the lives of their children. But you know what? Single moms don’t see themselves as superheroes. They see themselves as moms. And if you ask them how they do it, their response will be, “I just do,” because it’s the truth. But there are a few things that you shouldn’t ask a single mom, for various reasons. For starters, chances are good that what you want to ask is none of your business. Secondly, some questions are outright rude and hurtful. So the next time you’re wondering how superwoman (AKA that single mom you know) gets it all done, perhaps you might avoid the following questions for fear of really sticking your foot in your mouth.

What do you use the child support check for?

In all fairness, women using child support checks for things other than their children does happen more than you might think. As someone who grew up in a family full of teachers, I heard about it all the time. Conversations about kids showing up in clothes that don’t fit, shoes that don’t fit or are being held together by the glue that the teacher put on them for a child, all because mom wants to use that child support check to pay for her hair and her nails and the fun she has. But not all single moms do this, or would even consider this. So don’t ask; it’s presumptuous, none of your business, and downright rude.

Aren’t you afraid that they’re missing a male role model?

Perhaps the woman to whom you are directing this question left a man who was physically and emotionally abusing her and her children. Perhaps she’s not really in the mood to say, “Yes, I do wish I’d stayed with his abusive father so he could learn how to hit a woman or child and not leave visible bruises,” to you and your inappropriate line of questioning today. Guess what? Not all men are good role models.

Don’t you want your kids to stay married when they’re older?

What? So you’re saying that a single mother is teaching her kids how not to be married? What if her spouse is no longer alive? Does that mean she’s teaching her kids to die? I don’t even understand this question; but I know it gets asked a lot because I’ve heard moms discussing it.

Where is your child?

Not once has anyone ever asked my husband and I where our kids are if we run into them at dinner or a movie or running errands sans children. They assume they’re with a grandparent or sitter. So why would you ask this question of a single mom? Chances are good they’re with the same. And anyway, how is it your business and why shouldn’t a single mom be given a day off? She needs it more than anyone.

You’re not going to introduce them to your new boyfriend, right?

Yes, she’s going to take them on her first date and let them rate their first kiss before filling out a survey on his future daddy potential. No, she’s not introducing her kids to every single man with whom she shares coffee, a cocktail or a common interest. And even if she does, I will repeat; it’s not your business.

How will your son know what a good dad or husband looks like?

Would you ask this if a young boy’s father is deceased? Would you presume to ask this in this situation? No; you would not. So why ask a mom who is divorced? There are plenty of good men in the world who will provide examples for young boys, and sometimes the men that are supposed to provide that example aren’t doing it. Additionally, who says that his father isn’t a great role model or example to him in the first place? Just because parents don’t want to be together anymore doesn’t make the father a jerk or a bad example.

Why didn’t you just stay with your ex?

Why didn’t you just mind your own business? There are many reasons people don’t stay together, and not one of them is your business. But just so that  you have some satisfaction, I’ll break it down for you:

He’s a jerk. There was infidelity on his part. There was infidelity on her part. There was abuse. There was no turning back. The marriage didn’t work…I could go on for about another day or so, but you get the point, right?

What advice do you have for me? I’m a single mom all week since my husband is out of town and I’m going crazy!

All right; guilty. My kids and I travel with my husband when he has to go out of town, but on the occasional evening when he is late, I feel like a single mom and I say that. And I know it grates the nerves of actual single moms like nothing else. So just don’t, okay?

How do you afford your kids?

How do you afford yours? There; I said it. I’ll tell you as a woman in general that nothing is more annoying that when others assume that you need a man in your life to afford something. We recently had ADT at our home to install a new security system, and when the tech was doing the walk through with me, he looked at me and said, “This house is amazing! What does your husband do?” Another time I mentioned that we’d been in New York for a night the weekend before, and when another mom asked me why and I said for date night, she said, “OMG. What does your husband do?” as if the only person in our household working is my husband. I hate that, and I’m not a single mom. So try not to ask single moms how they afford things. It’s none of your business.

I guess you’re on government assistance and I’m paying for your groceries and housing, right?

Low. Blow. Don’t even go there. We all have our opinions of government assistance and those who use it (and let’s go ahead and be downright honest here and say that there are far too many people abusing this and making it look even worse for those who truly need it). Many single moms do not use government assistance. Many do, and many of them truly need it, and those that abuse the situation for their own profit and turn it into an ugly thing for a mother struggling to feed her kids should be ashamed of themselves.

Do not ever ask a mother if you paid for her groceries. Those who truly do need the help are ashamed and embarrassed enough that they aren’t able to provide on their own, and those not using resent the implication that they are women, therefore they are unable to care for their own families.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images


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