If you’re thinking of being a single mom

single mom by choice process how hard

Are you a single mom? Single mom by choice What advice do you give women thinking of having a baby on her own? 

Not a week goes by that I don't find myself in conversation with a childless woman in her 30s worried about whether to have kids, wondering about being a single mom. The typical scenario: She's not dating anyone she really likes, or is in a relationships she's not sure about, and really wants to be a mom.

But she is:

a) worried she won't find the right partner.

b) fears she does marry and they have a kid, but divorce.

c) considering having a baby on her own, but that it could turn out terribly because single motherhood is universally terrible.

My advice is always the same to women thinking about being a single mom by choice:

Have a baby! You will never regret having a baby! Yeah, divorce is hard. Being a mom alone is hard. But it is not full of regret. Having kids in a tough situation is way, way easier than denying the very thing that your body is biologically designed to do and is screaming at you to manifest. Some women's bodies do not scream that at them. Yours is. Listen to that! 

Do not live with regret. 

Regret is the worst. 

Have a baby!

Here's the thing with babies. You have no idea how much you will love them. I know one or two moms who will occasionally say they wish they didn't have kids. Or so many kids. I appreciate that. Totally human. But 99% of the moms I know will tell you:

Your love for your baby will blow your fucking mind. You think you have been in love with men. You think you love your family. You think you love Patrick Dempsey and Sephora.

You don't know shit.

Wait until you have a baby.


What about waiting around to marry “the one,” or whatever? Read my How many divorce stories started with ‘I knew he was the one!' Your fertility is finite. The years you will have the energy to parent little kids is limited. So go ahead and have a kid or three with your really nice boyfriend you're not 100% sure about because, listen — you have no idea how you will feel when you see him changing poopy pants, or when he steps in and takes over when you have crippling post-partum depression and your milk won't come in and you haven't washed your hair for 11 days and he spoons you in bed anyway. And that guy who you're waiting for who with whom you imagine you will have that thing when you just connect and really gets it? Well, he might just check out and not really be interested in family life start spending long nights at the office/with that really pretty colleague and you have no way of knowing that right now. Because he isn't in the picture.

And if there isn't a really nice guy on the scene, well, you are an adult woman and you know the ways you can have a baby.

Because life is about taking risk. Marriage is risk. Having babies is risk. There are no guarantees. The best things are hard. All cliches. All true.

Have the baby.

Then you will be a single mom. And that is scary, and you will be afraid of being poor, and messing up your kids. But married moms worry about that, too. And half of married moms end up single moms. And you have so many amazing opportunities as a woman to earn a great living and control your schedule and bring up awesome children and still find romantic love. So just do that. I'm here for you. And other moms, too.

How about you? What do you tell women contemplating motherhood — or single motherhood? What is your advice to them? Share in the comments.

About Emma Johnson

Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. 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.


  1. Lynn on August 1, 2018 at 12:02 am

    i am a single mother who chose to have a child solo. When i turned 40 i was in the height of my career, financially doing well, No time for a relationship. Several men offered to father a child with me, but ultimately decided that an anonymous sperm from a sperm bank was the best way to do it. My daughter is now 24. Going solo was the best decision. No regrets. Far less drama and complications for me. However, my daughter as she got older, wanted a dad. i tried to make that happen for her, but life had it’s own plans. Unfortunately for me, she found the anonymous sperm donor and 22 sibs online 2017-2018. The sperm donor took her to Europe this summer to “deepen” their relationship. Since my daughter turned 17 our relationship took a dive and never recovered. So in walks her “knight in shining armor.” (the sperm donor). This has created even more drama and problems, and it seems that the donor wants me out of the picture. He got divorced this year, filed for BK, and lost his job. I don’t have a good feeling about this. He is using my daughter (who he says is his favorite) for some bizarre reason, and my daughter only cares that she found the other 23 chromosomes. i’m so sad. i have lost my daughter, she has blinders on. It may take years before she sees the truth about him. Finding the sperm donor may not be a good thing, especially when there’s issue within the family. He is no knight in shining armor. i can understand a child wanting to know who their parent is/was, but if you are reading this and you are a donor child, remember the parent who raised you, who had to do the dirty work, and dedicated her life to make you happy. Don’t throw that parent out with the bath water because a shiny new Dad comes into your life.

  2. IA on April 22, 2018 at 1:16 am

    I’m 30 and my whole heart aches to be a mom. Like I cry frequently wishing I were a mom. I’ve never been lucky enough in love. I’m very much considering sperm donors. My friends and family think I’m crazy because I’m “so young” to make a decision like this. I’d love feedback…

  3. Megan on January 24, 2017 at 10:21 am

    Have the baby!! And get a doula, for Pete’s sake! They’re not just for crazy crunchy mamas who want all natural births (no judgment if that’s you – I believe in supporting mothers in all birthing plans). I think going through half of a high risk pregnancy and labor alone was one of the scariest parts. The second scariest part is that EVERY decision is up to you (sort of – you’ll come to pick your battles with family.) But the big stuff, like should s/he be evaluated for developmental delay, childcare arrangements, medications, choosing a doctor, choosing a school, etc., is ALL up to you. Which sounds great if you’re a control freak like me, but the biggest surprise of single mommyhood for me has been how much I wish I could bounce ideas off of another person that has skin in the game. A lot of people can give blanket “you should do this” advice, but it’s really hard to find someone who will listen first, then weigh in. Or maybe I’m just glamorizing co-parenting because I had it until it was my turn? But for reals, the LOVE. The love, the love the love!!! When you smell that baby’s little head and feel its heartbeat against your own, you’ll be flying higher than anyone in Colorado. And when they’re older and smile at you with that special little twinkle in their eye, you’ll be flying high again and melting in a puddle at the same time. So get pregnant, find a doula, build a homemade healthy frozen dinner stash, build a “sick day” stash (think of anything you’d want to run out to the store for if you or kiddo gets sick), and love your life!!! Or foster & adopt because those kids deserve love, too.

  4. Emma-Louise Smith on January 19, 2017 at 5:48 am

    Hey Emma, love your passion on this subject too, because I feel it too. I am one of those women, or I was. When I found myself still single at 38 I decided to take control of my life and have a baby by myself using a sperm donor, for all the reasons you state above. I knew I’d rather be a mother alone than never be a mother at all. My daughter is the greatest achievement of my life.

    BUT – whenever I talk to other women who are contemplating taking the same path I caveat all of the reasons to do it with this. NEVER underestimate how flippin’ tough single parenting is. Yes, parenting is tough for everyone but when you intentionally do it alone you the buck always stops with you, and only you. Emotionally, practically and financially. There’s no regular child free weekends where you get to have a social life and no-one else is every going to contribute financially. You’re it.

    So don’t assume you’ll cope as well as you have with all the other challenges life has thrown at you. There’s nothing as relentless as being a single parent, and there’s nothing else in life that you can’t walk away from if you decide it’s not for you.

    So prepare yourself for this. Accept that the first two years will be HARD. Harder than you can ever imagine. (I tell single mums-to-be this and can see them nodding and glazing over, thinking “I’m different, I’ll be fine”, then they come back to with their newborn and say “Why didn’t you tell me it was THIS hard!”)

    Surround yourself with your family for support. I had my daughter in Sydney, on the other side of the world from my family. I don’t recommend it. I’ve found that while friends said they’d be there for me, in reality the only person I can rely on 100%, don’t have to feel like I’m imposing on, and who finds my daughter as brilliant and fascinating as I do, is my mum. Now we’re about to move in with her. If you have family who want to help LET THEM, I beg of you!

    This is something I could talk about forever, but I’ll stop there because I’ve gone on long enough. Good luck future single mamas. You are not alone.

    • Emma on January 19, 2017 at 10:24 am

      Really excellent advice!! thank you!

  5. Mariale on January 18, 2017 at 6:05 pm

    This is beatiful! Im a single mom from Venezuela. My baby’s dad and I broke upo a few days ago in very good terms. This website is what I was looking for. Thank you so much.

    • Emma on January 19, 2017 at 10:26 am

      Wonderful, glad to have you here! Happy to hear you have a great relationship with your co-parent, so important.

  6. Di on March 6, 2016 at 10:06 am

    I really needed to read this, I just came out of a relationship where we were planning to have children and get married and for 3 years he was never fertile and at the same time sleeping around with many women. He is 55.

    Putting the shattered feelings aside, he turned me off having marriage and children. I am hoping this numb feeling goes. I am 38 and those 3 years waiting for him to be fertile has cost me. I made bad decisions. I accept that.
    I’m scared about all the things you write about.
    This is all still fresh and the thought of even being in another relationship is a turn off.

    thank you for the post. This was on my mind the last few weeks and I felt somewhat confused as to whether my feelings had ground. In any case, nothing is guaranteed. I thought ‘he’ was the one and if he WAS fertile I would be pregnant and he would be sleeping around anyway. It is all risky it once you have a baby – he/she is yours.
    I hope to feel that love for a child one day!

  7. Mon on January 20, 2016 at 11:01 am

    I am hoping to divorce and now I have a 1 year old son. I know I want to divorce this man but I also want to have more children, at least one more. I am 32 with good financial status. I am getting a lot of help from my family with my son. The father basically doesn’t show up much. I am having flexible working schedule now when my son is young so I get to spend a lot of quality time with him. I love my son and I love being a mother. It was always my hope to have more children, at least 2. Should I wait until I find a man that can build a stable relationship with me? Should I try to drag this marriage on for a bit longer, try to make it work, have another child? I hope to hear your thoughts. Thanks.

    • Emma on January 21, 2016 at 8:42 am

      I posted this to our FB group, Millionaire Single Moms: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1696086337295392/

      I posed your question there and got so many really thoughtful answers based on the women’s personal experiences… ranging from hells yes, to hells no :) Please join us there.

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