Why single moms don’t get to celebrate Father’s Day

single mom celebrate fathers day

Plenty of memes going around Facebook giving Father's Day shout-outs to single moms who “do it all.”

Make your way down the card isle and you will come across Hallmark's cards, they have a half-dozen designed celebrating moms on this day.

Cards read:

“Happy Father's Day, Mom!”

“Mom: You're the best! Thanks for being both father and mother.”

“Happy Father's Day to all the single moms pulling double duty”

I don't dig it.

I get it. I really get it. I get that you do all, or most of the work.

I get that he checked out and that is so, so, so wrong and absentee fathers hold men, women, fathers, mothers and most of all children back.

Absentee fathers is a big freaking problem in this country, as I have explored in numerous posts.

I am making it in my work a priority to address and remedy.

Five things never to say to your kids about their father

You are not a father. Only a Father can be a father.

By saying: I am taking credit for being a father, you tell your children:

“Fathers are replaceable.”

They are not.

It is heartbreaking that your kids' dad is not an equal parent, but that doesn't mean that his absence is irrelevant.

It's not.

It's a big deal, and your children deserve the honor of feeling sad, mourning the absence of a committed dad.

“Men are irrelevant.”

Men aren't irrelevant.

You don't die when you don't have a romantic partner, and your kids don't die when their dad isn't around.

But that does not make men irrelevant.

You have a son, or you have a daughter.

If we are going to teach our children to respect women, we must respect all genders equally.

“I am a martyr and you owe me.” 

First of all, no one owes you shit, no matter the day of the year.

Second, you kids don't owe you because you raise them.

The makeup of their family, the involvement of each parent, is on those parents.

You do you, raise your kids and stop asking them or the world for acknowledgment.

“Your dad sucks.” 

He might suck. You might be right.

But don't say that to your kids — directly or passively.

Trust me, I get the temptation.

I've been guilty of saying bad stuff about my kids' dad.

But it is not pretty and you will feel bad later.

“Your dad will never be an important part of your life.”

That may be true, but it may not be.

Fathers Day

There are many, many examples of parents who checked out of their kids' lives, but re-emerged to be meaningful fathers and mothers.

Maybe they finally get their priorities straight.

Or deal with mental health or financial issues that hold them back from being involved.

Other times, the vitriol of the divorce or breakup subside and make room for healthy co-parenting.

If you establish that Father's Day does not involve your kids' father, you close that door of hope.

Instead, you do what you can to raise those gorgeous children.

Single moms on Father's Day

It may mean welcoming in other male figures (even if their dad is actively involved — it is impossible to have too much love for our kids!).

Related: When to introduce your boyfriends to your kids — or have him sleep over?

It may mean growing your community by way of friends and neighbors and other bonds that make life full and happy, and help your children know that life is abundant with love — as much love as they are willing and able to accept.

Even if the love does not come from the people whom you crave it from most, there is indeed more love than you, your kids, or even their dad, can fathom.

Your kids and you get to celebrate your love for each other in May. On Mother's Day. [Happy Mother's Day to you, you incredible single mama!]

Until then, I wish all the fathers — biological, surrogate, foster, step, unofficial, official, absent, part-time, incarcerated, and otherwise — a very happy Father's Day.

Maybe you are opening a power tool and crappy popsicle stick framed pic of your kid, and enjoying a regular ol' Sunday with them.

Or, not at all. But in some way you made a contribution, and if you are like a huge portion of dads in this country who do nowhere near your share:

I believe you can do better. I believe you will do better.

And whenever you're ready to step up, please, please do. It's never too late.

Post related to single moms and Father's Day:

Happy Mother's Day to all the beautiful single moms!

29 ways to co-parent like a pro

Fathers can be better parents after divorce

About Emma Johnson

Emma Johnson is an award-winning business journalist, noted blogger, and bestselling author. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post's ‘Must Read” list.Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.  Find out Emma's top Single Mom Resources here.


  1. Cathie on June 16, 2019 at 6:46 pm

    Both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are what you make them. There is no gender neutral Parent’s Day (yet?) even though society in 2019 is increasingly moving away from defining roles by gender. If we’re so fortunate to have children and they’ve been blessed with gratitude in their hearts to want to celebrate us, who the heck cares when they do it, or how pubically. Parenting is challenging enough. Saying when or how we’re allowed to celebrate is essentially just another way of holding one another down, when we could be lifting each other up. A woman celebrating Fathers Day obviously doesn’t take that day away from male parents, just as a man celebrating mother’s day doesn’t take that day away from women.

    For me, I was raised with an amazing, irreplacacle Dad, so I definitely value and have the utmost respect for the father role. Now, I have a sweet little boy who does not have a father. He had a birth father, but that man did not wish to be involved as a parent, which is completely fair and completely within his rights and his reproductive freedom. My son and I are a happy, very complete family with a lot of love. And though I am a woman, I will assume a role that has similarities to the roles both mothers AND fathers play in a two parent household. I would be honored if my little boy grows up with the love and gratitude in his heart to want to celebrate me beyond just Mother’s Day. (But that’s up to him!) There is NO way I think this gives him the message that fathers are replaceable or that he doesn’t need to be a responsible father if he has children someday. On the contrary, I think it shows him that every occassion to show love and gratitude to those who love us is worth making the most of. Which will only make him an even more amazing parent, if he someday chooses to be one.

  2. Whatever on June 15, 2019 at 9:40 pm

    Emma you are an idiot! My dad gave up his rights when I was 6 months old. Your situation might be different but everyone’s is. My mom raised 3 kids with no child support or help from my sorry donor. Think about things before you write a ridiculous article

  3. Elle on June 15, 2019 at 10:03 am

    I came across this article knowing I would disagree and hate it, because I think it callous to say to a woman who is struggling to make ends meet for her child isn’t entitled to another day because she’s doing all of the work for her child(ren) because the child’s father left. Because how dare she even think that she deserved any more credit than the little she has gotten?
    I will continue to wish struggling mothers happy Father’s Day as well as my own mother. She did more work for me than my father ever did. No, fathers aren’t replaceable, nor did I stop hurting over my fathers absence as a child, but at LEAST I had my mother to turn to.

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