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10 Things You Should Never Say To A Single Parent

By Devan McGuinness |

Families come in all different shapes, sizes and compositions. Gone are the days where a man and woman are married then start a family with 2.2 children and their white picket fences. Life is much better with differences in the world.

Single parent families can be by choice or circumstance and are also a misunderstood family dynamic. There are those that feel it must be like the worst thing ever and can’t understand why it was chosen and there are others who feel ‘sad’ for those who are parenting independently by circumstance. Each dynamic has their challenges and often, the ‘non-typical’ families are the ones most often misunderstood.

Click through for my advice on 10 things you should never say to single parent:

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What Not To Say to Single Parent

"How Do You Do It?"

Why?: It's a rhetorical question that can make a person feel inadequate. It's done because it has to be and it may not be as bad as you assume.
Photo Credit: photostock

:: Tell me — what is something people have said to you? Which is the worst? ::

What NOT to say to a WAHM
What NOT to say to a SAHM
What NOT to say to a WOHM

Read more from Devan on Accustomed ChaosUnspoken Grief
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About Devan McGuinness


Devan McGuinness

Devan McGuinness is the writer of the lifestyle website byDevan. After surviving 12 miscarriages, Devan founded Unspoken Grief, a resource and support site for perinatal and neonatal loss. Read bio and latest posts → Read Devan's latest posts →

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21 thoughts on “10 Things You Should Never Say To A Single Parent

  1. Susan says:

    I used to love-”my husband works all the time. I know just how you feel. I have to do everything myself too!”. Yeah, including spending the other paycheck that the other person brings in. Boo Hoo.

  2. DeShieka says:

    As a single mothers, most of these questions are on point. Honestly I usually see guys asking them. When they ask where my son’s father is, i reply he is where he needs to be.. and leave it at that. My personal life and my son isn’t there concern. As long as he happy and taken care of that is all that matters and all any person needs to know.

  3. DeShieka says:

    Sorry, I mean their concern… not There

  4. Rachel B says:

    I’m ok with “you look tired” if it’s followed by “Let me take him for a little while.”

  5. singlemama_cc says:

    Ha! We look tired because we LIVE tired. It’s an art

  6. Sandy says:

    Im not easily offended so whatever people say, Im alright with it :)

  7. Michelle says:

    Hello, this is the grammar police- THAN. Not Then! Than! Greater than, less than, other than, longer than. Who wrote this? You’re fired! That’s not just a spelling mistake, it’s an entirely different word! Ok sorry. Now it’s out of my system. :)

  8. Amy says:

    The partner questions tick me off, but those just come from my mom. = I don’t mind the other ones. It actually makes me feel better when they can see that it’s hard and they give me a little credit for doing something superhuman.

  9. kat says:

    i didn’t mind being a single parent, i was for 15yrs, it was a choice i’d made, coz he was a pig. i had very supportive family & he was a pretty good kid; he rarely made me tear my hair out & NEVER did i think “damn, i’ll send you to your father!” or ‘wished’ i could. we had fun, we moved around a bit too. & now i’m extremely proud, he had a dream, he’s acheived it – his job & he ust turned 21!! he’s got a good head on his shoulders, he’s gentle & caring, he knows how to cook, clean & look after himself & others if need be. I’ve done a fantastic job, even if i say so myself!!
    now i’m married & share the role of my 2nd son, oh sooo different. whilst the extra help & certainly the financial situation is better; it is more conflicting, bcoz there’ two different styles of parenting & bcoz my husband works away his style is based on guilt. but we’re working thru it.

  10. Shannon says:

    I’m with Sandy, I’m not easily offended and for the most part I can tell if someone is genuinely concerned or just a nosy parker. I’ll answer what I feel is appropriate for the situation, or in the case of the latter I smile and change the subject :)

  11. laura horton says:

    you never go out anymore or why caint you go

  12. Tara says:

    I really hate when people say “One kid was enough for us!” I would kill myself if I had that many kids. This is usually when I let them know I’m not suicidal..homicidal maybe!

    Another common mistake is is not being invited to do things “we know you can’t come you have the kids”

    Sometimes people say “OMG! I feel so sorry for you! Song feel sorry for me they are my children not death sentence!

  13. Apri says:

    Some of those are just things in general you don’t say to parents or people. I don’t think telling someone you are proud of them is a bad thing. Isn’t complimenting someone a good thing? I always enjoy a nice compliment as long as it is sincere. I live for words of affirmation.

    Actually for the adult time one, I actually have offered to babysit when one of my good friends was a single parent. She never let me, but I offered multiple times.

  14. Carrie says:

    I live in a military town, so there are a lot of soldiers wives who have “related” to my single parenting issues because their husbands are deployed overseas. The thing that they don’t understand is that we actually have NOTHING in common – esp when it comes to income and exhaustion. Although they are “doing it alone” for 12 month stints – they have an income coming in that is triple of what I can bring in myself to support my children and I also work and then go home and work after a 8 hour day. Most of them are stay at home Moms who can go have lunch with their kids at school or volunteer in the classrooms, take their kids on outings on the weekends and such. It gets harder and harder to bite my tongue when I hear the “I’m basically a single mother too because my husband is overseas” … ah — no, you aren’t.

  15. Doug says:

    Ok I would just like to add my two cents here, I, am a Single Dad raising my 3 teen kids, and I know there are a lot more of us out there. Not all of us guys are at fault for our situations, and just like the women depicted here, we or at least I, make the best out of the situation at hand. it is equally as hard for the guy to be a single parent, and dealing with all of the stereotypical behavior gets annoying on a good day…

  16. Matthew Kennedy says:

    I admire any woman who raises a child or children by herself. My wife and I raised 4 together and it is not always an easy job and I can just imagine how difficult it is for one person without a partner, because of separation, divorce or the death of a partner. Many children I know grew up in a single parent home and they have turned out as well as any of the children I know who grew up in a two parent family. Love is what children need and one parent can give a child plenty of love and affection many times more than children that came from a very unloving two parent family. Attention and love for a child is what helps to make them grow up to be caring and responsible adults.

  17. sadie says:

    i agree with matthew. i definitely admire anyone who can raise children on their own. my great-grandmom was a single, working mom in the 1940s. and my grandmom was a single working mom in the late 60s/early 70s. i do think it’s nice that women aren’t alienated for being single moms like they were back in the day.

  18. Roxanne says:

    Carrie, I am a military wife with 3 small children. When my husband is deployed I frequently find myself thinking, “I am so glad I am not a single parent because it is hard enough without having to worry about income as well!” That being said, I feel like the comment you made was seriously demeaning to us military wives who do deal with deployments. You act like it is all roses to have my husband overseas in a war zone for a year while I go lunch with my children and take them on outings. While I have no interest in competing for title of Hardest Life, I just want to point out that we have big challenges, too. And it really is hard to have your husband gone for a year in a war zone while you stay home with the children. Everyone has challenges, but that’s life! Let’s just make the best of our personal situation.

  19. Tina says:

    I actually agree with the military wife comment. It’s a different set of problems but it is NOT the same thing. Not sure if one is worse than the other, but it’s very hard being completely alone. I wish I could email someone about my day or email my husband about milestones with about my child’s life. It’s very complicated when you are alone. You have be strong for your kids and keep a brave face and not let the kids worry about bills or that the energy bill tripled. No one gives a crap about me and how I manage, but I sense there is a strong set of community for military wives. You are on your own as a single parent. I don’t know what happened, but when my husband left me and my kids for a younger woman, people cannot look me in the eye anymore. Our mutual friends feel they need to pick sides and just don’t in most cases. As a military wife, you are honored, but there are plenty of people who look down on us single moms like we somehow deserve our troubles. And sorry, I think people pity single fathers so it’s a little easier for them.. I have been asked “did I try everything to save my marriage?”–> THAT is the worse question you can ask a single parent IMO.

  20. Joy says:

    I am a single mother and none of those comments or questions would bother me in the slightest. I don’t think your problem is that you are a single mother – I think your problem is that you are insecure. You care way too much about other peoples opinions and read to much into their attempts at small talk.

  21. Vanessa says:

    My husband died seven years ago, so I’ve been at this for a while and heard pretty much every comment there is. By far the most common ones are about dating/remarriage – people are seriously obsessed with the idea that everyone MUST be coupled up. Ironically, a lot of them are telling me this while also complaining about their own miserable relationships!

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