8 Things You Should Never Say to a Single Mom

Stacey Freeman

By Stacey Freeman | May 18th, 2022

As a single mom who has full physical custody and an ex who lives far away, I’ve had to field more than a few questions and comments over the years that have left me scratching my head wondering how people say the things they do. Most of the time I believe they mean well and simply don’t think before they speak or understand what living as a single mom really means. That’s why I’m taking this opportunity to educate the uneducated. Here are a few things you may want to consider not saying to a single mom like me.

1. You’re so lucky your ex lives far away

My ex doesn’t just live far away; he lives 8,000 miles away. And you know what? As far as butting heads is concerned, I’ve found we can do that over the phone as efficiently as we can in person, which means I’m gaining nothing from the physical distance between us except the title of single parent and my kids having a dad they don’t get to see as often as they would like. I’m not sure how “lucky” any of us, including my ex, is. What does make us lucky is that we’ve been able to make the best of a difficult situation for so long and the kids are all doing well. But then again, how much of this is luck or the product of hard work?

2. My husband works/travels/is gone all the time, so I know what it’s like for you

When I was married, my husband worked crazy hours and traveled, too. Having had both experiences, I’m here to tell you being a single mom is not the same as having a loving husband who’s also a workaholic. When you’re married, your husband is usually a phone call away. He’s also going to come home at some point, converse with you, eat with you, get into bed with you, have sex with you, sleep next to you, go on vacation with you, face problems with you, etc. In other words, share your life with you. When you’re a single mom, you’re single, as in by yourself. For most single moms, none of the above happens. No, you don’t “know what it’s like.”

3. You’re a survivor

I’ll admit, my life since becoming a single mom hasn’t been easy. A lot of times it has, to be blunt, sucked. But it has been incredibly rewarding as well, and I’m seeing the benefits now. My oldest daughter recently left for college, and she’s doing fantastic in spite of the obstacles she faced as a child of divorce. The same goes for her younger sister and younger brother. Still, I don’t think of myself as a survivor. This is my life, and I’m living it, good days and bad, like you. When I walk out of the Andes mountains after living through a plane crash and eating my dead rugby teammates to keep from starving, then you can call me a survivor. Until then, I’m a mom who also happens to be single.

I’ll admit, my life since becoming a single mom hasn’t been easy. A lot of times it has, to be blunt, sucked. But it has been incredibly rewarding as well, and I’m seeing the benefits now.

4. I wish my husband would cheat on me. Then I’d have an excuse to leave him

I assure you, you don’t want to wish for this. Finding out your spouse or partner has been unfaithful ranks among the most hurtful and damaging betrayals you can experience. I wouldn’t wish such a fate on my worst enemy. Besides, don’t you have anything better you can hope for, like your relationship improving or, you know, winning the lottery?

5. So you need to get someone in there right away, huh?

I had a guy say this to me at an event within a few minutes of our meeting, just after telling him I’m a single mom. He got right in my face, too, reminding me why it can be better to be alone. For the record, finding a partner is a matter of want, not need, for this single mom, and I for one am going to be picky. In the meantime, dude, I’ve got this. And if I didn’t, I still wouldn’t choose you.

6. You must never be able to go out

Nope. Never. My children hold me hostage, I don’t believe in hiring a babysitter or letting Grandma and Grandpa come over, and I never want to leave my children’s side because I treasure every minute we spend together. Yeah, right. I’m a single mom, which makes allocating “me time” on a regular basis an absolute necessity. Please don’t make assumptions (or worse, judgments) about how I spend my days and nights. I’ll figure my logistics out for myself. And when I do, I’ll fill you in then.

7. The kids are better off without him (their dad)

No, they’re not. And if they were, I still wouldn’t want you to weigh in about it without me asking for your two cents first. Divorce and custody are touchy subjects and making the decision to end a marriage, especially where there are children involved, is a decision, I guarantee you, we as a couple didn’t reach easily. Whatever you think you know, you don’t. Keep your unsolicited advice to yourself.

8. Your ex is a #$@&%*!

That may be, but he’s my kids’ dad. He’s also my #$@&%*!. And until further notice, I’m the only one who gets to say he is.

Stacey Freeman

Stacey Freeman

Stacey Freeman is a New York City-based writer, lifestyle editor at Worthy.com, and the founder and managing director of Write On Track.


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