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What You SHOULD Say to a Single Mother

Image Source: Thinkstock
Image Source: Thinkstock

As a single mother, I often find myself annoyed when people casually say things to me about my situation in an effort to make me feel better. I know it’s not very mature of me, and they’re just trying to help, but I can’t help it. Sometimes the effort of my well-intentioned friends just ends up shining a spotlight on my situation and making me feel worse, and from what I’ve heard from my single mom friends, I know that I’m not the only one who feels this way.

You see, the thing is, we love you dear friends. We appreciate your efforts and we are happy that you care about us, but sometimes we wish that your efforts would be a little more in line with what we really need to hear.

So instead, how about a few of these:

“You’re Doing Great!”

I can tell you without a doubt that the phrase most commonly bestowed upon many single moms by their good intentioned friends is “I just don’t know how you do it!” The problem is that when we hear that, it often feels like you’re making an observation that our lives are so difficult you can’t believe we are holding it together. And to be honest, you’re right. Our lives can be hard at times and we don’t always feel like we can hold it together, so what we really need to hear is something closer to “I know things aren’t always easy for you, but I’m really proud of how well you are doing. You amaze me with your strength and your kids are so lucky to have you.”

A simple sense of validation that you know how hard we’re working and despite our struggles, we still rock. This gives us the parenting self-esteem boost that we often lack in parenting alone.

“Your Kids Are Lucky To Have You!”

It was the third time I had been asked the dreaded question that month: “Are you worried about your kids growing up without a father?”

Of course I’m worried, why wouldn’t I be!? The statistics of fatherless children aren’t pleasant ones. They are sprinkled with teen pregnancies, laden with drug addictions, criminal behavior, and future divorces. So yeah, to put it lightly, I’M WORRIED.

I know that when people ask me about the future of my fatherless children that it comes from a place of wanting to understand how I’m feeling, but the sudden reminder that my kids don’t have a dad and are worse off because of it, hurts. So unless we are deep into a conversation about my life, please don’t casually bring it up. What we really need to hear is the same thing that every mother needs and the same things that you usually get from your partner when parenting gets rough; validation that our kids are lucky to have us, we are doing right by them, and that we are a good moms.

Please don’t add to my worry about parenting alone, but instead help me to believe that my kids will by alright because they have me.

“Is There Anything You Need?”

Child support is not a consolation prize for becoming a single parent, so just because my ex-husband sometimes sends me a child support check, it doesn’t mean that I have everything I need. When people tell single parents “at least you get child support,” it feels like they’re minimizing everything else that a parenting partnership entails.

Most of the things that help a family function can’t be bought in a store, so what we really need from our friends is for them to ask us what we need. Better yet, outright offer their help so that our prideful selves don’t feel like we are inconveniencing anyone. There is a lot that goes into parenting and everyone knows that it’s easier when the burden doesn’t lie completely on one person, so child support or not, we still need the support of our friends.

“Do You Want To Come Over?”

Since becoming a single parent, I’ve noticed that my friends have really stepped up their game when it comes to complaining about their husbands. I know they’re just trying in their own helpful way to point out how annoying their spouse is, so that I might somehow feel lucky not to have one anymore, but parenting alone is lonely. And to be honest, your husband’s socks on the floor isn’t such a bad trade off for the fact that you have someone to walk through life with.

An invite to have dinner with your family, an offer to have us join in on a weekend outing, or even just coming over to chat after my kids go to bed is worth more than the knowledge that I’m lucky I don’t have to deal with my husband’s chaotic work schedule and dirty laundry. You don’t have to rag on your spouse in an effort to make us feel better about being alone, it means more to us when you make the effort to make sure we literally are not always alone.

Here’s the thing, deep down we know you mean well and that you just don’t understand things from our perspective. Unfortunately that doesn’t always make what you say hurt any less, and as a good friend whose words mean something to us, we would appreciate it if you would take a minute to think about how your comments on our situation might make us feel.

It’s amazing to know that our friends care about us, so please make sure that what you are saying is what you really want us to hear and understand.

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Article Posted 4 years Ago
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