One of the tireless discussions in the single mom community is, “Who gets to call themselves a single mom?”
Emma’s quick take on the differences between a single mom and a solo mom
Below, you will find a polite, academic picking-apart of the who-gets-to-call-themselves-a-single-mom debate. It rages on, constantly, and after 10 years of blogging about single moms (and being one myself for 12 years), I have come to this conclusion:
The argument about who is, and who is not a single mom is one of white privilege, but more about that later.
I also want to explore why some moms are abandoning the label “single mom” and opting instead to be known as a “solo mom.”
In short: Do no split hairs over who does or does not get to call themselves a single mom, or solo mom — this sort of infighting and misery olympics only divides women and heightens any discrimination faced by women outside of “traditional relationships”
What is considered a single mom?
First, let’s agree to stop arguing about being a single mom — unless you are a married mom, or otherwise living with the parent of your kids.
A single mom is one whose family is outside of a “traditional” family consisting of two first-time married parents living with their children. These are moms who can be considered single or solo moms:
- Divorced moms
- Never-married moms who don’t live with their kids’ other parent / father
- Single moms by choice
- Single adoptive or foster moms
- Remarried moms
- Moms in partnership with people who are not their kids’ other parent
- Widowed moms
- Moms with 50/50 custody and otherwise involved co-parents
- Moms who receive child support or alimony or otherwise get the financial benefit of a co-parent or partner (but are not married)
- Single moms with high incomes
- Single moms with supportive family networks
So, who gets to use the illustrious title of a single mom?
This conversation has long enraged me, because it is solely designed to promote infighting among women and elevating the shame attached to the term “single mom.” After all, if you insist you are not a ‘single mom,' but a ‘divorced mom' because you were once married (64% of Millennial moms have a child outside of marriage, according to Johns Hopkins), the subtext of that designation is:
“I am better because my child was conceived inside of a socially sanctioned partnership, which presumes the kid was wanted and planned for, and presumes I have an active co-parent now that marriage ended — none of which apply to babies born to unmarried mothers.”
Of course, none of these perceived privileges are necessarily true — nor are the presumed hardships of moms who never married, many of whom do plan their families and do have healthy co-parenting relationships.
The keyword here, however, is PRIVILEGE. I cannot remember hearing these hair-splitting arguments made by anyone but white, privileged women, and angry, white men — the latter of whom are usually bitter dads paying a lot of alimony/child support with little access to their children
Related: 19 reasons why alimony is unfair and hurts gender equality
I am challenging the white women who go out of their way to distance themselves from calling themselves a “single mother.”
Motherhood: Addressing the Single Mom Stigma | Black Women OWN the Conversation | OWN
If you are doing socioeconomic gymnastics to get around calling yourself a single mom, you are really trying to get around a social stigma that has for centuries been attached to mostly poor, women of color.
I write about this topic in my bestselling book The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin). New York Post called it a “Smart, Must-Read.”
Historically and to this day, households headed by unmarried mothers have been majority African American, and more recently, Hispanic women, both groups of which are statistically poorer than white people, and continue to experience higher rates of giving birth outside of marriage than white women. For a very long time, we have called these women single moms, without much debate at all. Unfortunately, for a very long time, single moms have been considered social pariahs, derided by politicians and religious leaders as the blame for most social ills. That is how stigmas are institutionalized.
Today, thanks to the amazing work of feminists before us, women now have many wonderful choices on how to build our families. Financial, career, reproductive and legal rights and opportunities mean that women can now afford to chose have children without committed partners, are less likely to marry, and are more likely to initiate divorce. White, educated women benefit disproportionately from these strides in gender equality, and the numbers of white women having babies outside of marriage and divorcing are skyrocketing. Again, it is white, educated women who scramble to distance themselves from the term “single mom” — even though we all check the same “single” box when we file our taxes (though “head of household” is no more, thanks for nothing tax reform!), apply for health or life insurance, or are counted by the Census.
So, even if you are divorced, you are a single mom — no matter how much you want to distance yourself from THOSE PEOPLE who never married. If you enjoy a handsome sum of child support and co-parenting from your kid's dad, or have a helpful boyfriend or high-paying job, you are a single mom — even if your family or financial situation does not look like what you associate happens inside the families or bank accounts of THOSE PEOPLE.
This is call for unity for gender equality, for race equality, and for just being a decent person. When you own your life and family and relationship status (because this is a conversation about STATUS) with acceptance instead of shame, you elevate all single moms, all families — and women everywhere.
26 reasons being a single mom is awesome
Who is NOT a single mom
Ladies, if your husband is away on a hunting trip for a weekend, you are not a single mom. Or even, as Michelle Obama accidentally did, you call yourself a single mom because your husband is really, really busy with his fabulous career, you are out.
And FYI, when you are a married mom and refer to yourself as a single mom you piss off a whole lot of people — people who have little or no financial help to raise their kids, or partnership that provides the emotional and logistical support that all families need. Not that you meant anything by it. But when you say that we want to kill you.
On forums and in casual conversation, I hear people (usually men – men who pay lots of child support) grumble about women (usually their exes) who define themselves as single moms. “They have no right to say that — I pay for her manicures and weekends in Cancun with her 26-year-old personal trainer boyfriend!” is the usual gripe.
If you think that because your husband won't freaking unload the dishwasher and complains when you ask him to pick your son at his sleepover instead of watching the game, and you haven't had sex in weeks or months and that makes you feel really bad, I am sorry for that. But you don't get it both ways. You don't get the financial security of a second adult living in your house, or the psychological security of knowing that if you have a brain aneurism in the middle of the night someone will drive you to the ER and then get the kids to school in the morning, or the social comfort of couples' dinner parties and not having to face your mother's judgement for getting a divorce — and also get to hang with us.
[Now, you know and I know this all doesn't apply to abusive situations.]
Because you are not here with us.
You didn't take that risk.
Maybe you will, and maybe you will thrive in your newfound solo life. Maybe you will stay, work through a rough patch in your marriage, and never, ever regret that.
Or, maybe you will stay and be really, really unhappy — unable to share your unhappiness with your married mom friends because you all assume that the others' Instagram personas are accurate, and not being accepted by actual single moms — moms who bristle at your self proclamation of being part of the club. Because you're not there.
Definition of a single mom
Which leads us to examine what “single mother” really means. Yes, you are unmarried and romantically available. Fair enough. But “single mom” is a heavily loaded term with lots of social and political connotations. Depending on how you vote, a single mom is responsible for bearing fatherless criminals and living off of the taxpayer's dime; or she is a saintly martyr for her children and a victim of a chauvinistic society that tells men it is OK to abandon their children by a male-dominated court system that let him way, way off the hook.
But what if you're living in reality and fall somewhere in between? What about families where custody is civilized and shared 50-50? What if you get a fat support check every two weeks? Or the parent who is saddled with 100 percent of the responsibilities, but remarries into a supportive relationship? Or you get no financial support, but lots of logistic and parenting cooperation? What if you're doing it all on your own, but have the financial means to hire extensive help with the kids and house? What about the married mom whose husband has a lil somethin' on the side, lends zero help with the kids and blows the mortgage payment on electronics and poker games?
Why so many dads are better parents after divorce
I struggled with how to define myself as a single mom
Today, I feel totally fine calling myself a single mom: I float my family financially and am the primary caretaker of my kids. If my ex's situation were different he would gladly participate in a different way, and he very well may in the future. My status (and yes this is all about status) as a single mom because that is a fact. But would I call myself something else if I were not so very independent in my parenting?
The crux of this issue is that “single mom” carries with it at least a twinge of status in many circles — in other groups it lends serious street cred. Being a single mom can be inherently hard, and in America we uphold hard as a virtue. In most of the country, bragging rights belong to the person who put herself through college, saved up for the downpayment on his house, and never took a cent from parents after graduating high school. If you happen to have a trust fund, inheritance, or cashed in on a tech start-up, you keep your pie hole shut and keep your lifestyle in line with your middle-class friends (or go find rich friends).
Which brings us back to single mom semantics. On one hand, we could agree to dismiss the issue as a big, WHO THE EFF CARES?! On the other, the fact that this topic warrants a blog posts underscores bigger changes afoot: changes in family structure, marriage, family economics, and gender, class and money — all my most favoritest topics of conversation, but also some of the most important and compelling issues of our time. As we figure out where women and mothers fit into the worlds of work, money and politics, we need language to help us along the way.
In the meantime, how you define yourself to the world as an unmarried mother has ramifications for women and gender equality.
In my early years as a single mom, I struggled with my title — and my identity — as an unmarried mom.
Sometimes if were in a group of new people and it's relevant, I'd mentioned that I'm divorced. That's a fact. But I don't want my identity to be “divorced.” Divorce is horrible, even if the net result is positive. I don't want to spend the rest of my life labeled by an atrocious legal process. And I will not let divorce define my family.
Sometimes, in my early days as a single mom, I'd play around with “not married.” I like it because it's accurate. It's also fun and delightfully ambiguous, which suits me just fine at the moment. “Are you married?” asks that judgey, annoying mom with the yoga pants and giant diamond at the school, eying you up and down. “No,” you might respond. “I'm not married.” See? Leaves her guessing. Are you a lesbian? Single mom by choice? In an open relationship? Unmarried but partnered with your super-hot Scandinavian boyfriend of 12 years? A filthy whore? She doesn't know. And it's none of her business. So while she's trying to steal your mojo with her snotty question, smile coolly, pick up your kid, and leave knowing that she will now keep even tighter reins on her husband at the holiday show.
Until we iron out the details, I'll stick with my title of “single mom.” But not too tightly. After all, to toss off a casual “I'm a single mom” can suggest a belief that you are automatically deserving of respect — an attitude that pisses off pretty much everyone.
Why do married moms want to call themselves ‘single moms'?
Not once but THREE TIMES in the past week I have received messages from married moms who want to be part of my single-mom Facebook groups (join Millionaire Single Moms, BUT ONLY IF YOU'RE AN ACTUAL SINGLE MOM!).
Here is one:
Hi Emma! I'm not technically a single mom, but can you please add me to your groups? My husband hardly does anything at all around the house, I manage the finances, run the kid around and work a fulltime job!
P.S.: No. Buh-bye.
And by the way: Are you fucking kidding me?
Any single mom will tell you how we bristle when a married mother casually calls herself a “single mom” because:
a) her husband is out of town on a golf weekend.
b) works all the time.
c) doesn't do his share at home or with the kids.
d) has checked out of the marriage and makes her feel fat, old and unattractive.
Those scenarios may indeed be very hard. Painful, frustrating, hurtful, lonesome, unfair and bad examples for the kids.
I feel for you. I also identify with you. I used to be married. It wasn't so great for me. My marriage was indeed hard, painful, frustrating, lonesome, unfair and a bad example for the kids. But the marriage ended. I got out, and I found a new life. For me, single motherhood has been pretty great. It is for a lot of people, maybe especially women, so many of whom I've met whom THRIVE in their newfound independence and are forced to find their way financially, logistically, romantically and as parents.
What about those who are “living together but separated?”
If you and your husband are technically still married, but have committed to separating, or are even legally separated, but are living together for financial or other practical matters, I say you are a single mom. After all, you have to co-parent with someone you are not romantically involved with, and will be divorced soon (you hope, right?).
Most moms, FWIW, report this is hell. Says Brenda:
“I lived in the marital home during the divorce process and 2 months post divorce until I could close on my new house. (Sellers market here and I had to agree to settle on their desired date). My attorney claimed that I was more agreeable with settlement agreement because of the living situation. I don't completely agree, I was fair. I asked him to move to guest room and he didn't. I refused on grounds I had more clothes and bathroom stuff to move. So we slept back to back like we did for years anyway, no real difference other than there was an end in sight.”
“Lived with mine for 6 months, while he was dating his affair partner. It was a nightmare. We definitely lived separate lives and do what we could to give each other our space when it was our time with the kids (which for me, at the time, was 90%). If it was up to him he would have stayed like that. I actually had to wait until he went away for a weekend to move out because he lost his mind anytime I brought it up. Things are significantly better now that we are in separate houses and co-parenting with him isn’t so bad.”
“My ex and I separated in Oct. and lived in the same house for 2 months and then he went crazy and tried to kill me. So I’m not a big advocate for cohabitating. But my situation is hopefully not normal!”
For some of us, being a single mom is better than marriage, and sometimes, indeed awesome.
Anecdotally, I don't know so many really happy marriages, and scholars have found the same. Per Rebecca Traister's very excellent bestselling All The Single Ladies:
Psychologist Ty Tashiro suggested in a 2014 book that only three in ten married people enjoy happy and healthy marriages, and that being in an unhappy partnership can increase your chances of getting sick by about 35 percent. Another researcher, John Gottman, has found that being in an unhappy union could shorten your life by four years.
A recently published Stanford study found that women initiate divorce 69 percent of the time.
In other words: Married mom desperate to hang with single moms: You are not alone in your marital misery. You're good! Normal!
Meanwhile, single motherhood is losing its stigma, so much so that all these married moms go around flaunting faux singlehood! The “traditional” nuclear family with married parents and kids now constitutes the statistical minority of American households, with single-mom led homes constituting the majority of the remaining portion. Further, and somewhat astonishing, the MAJORITY millennial moms are unmarried.
That is right: Single mom-led families are on their way to being the majority.
Statistically, it is economically tougher to raise kids without a spouse. It can be scary, stressful, socially isolating, lonely, painful and worrisome. But with 10 million single moms in the United States, you probably know one or 20 who are thriving, fully embracing the economic, educational, sexual and social opportunities afforded women in this country today. It might look pretty good.
To which I say:
Hey married mom: Maybe you sense that single motherhood will be awesome for you, too. But no matter how sad you are, how alone in your marriage you feel, you do not 100% have to be financially, romantically or logistically independent. Because you are not. Because you are married. Because you have not taken the risk to go at this family thing without a spouse.
That is OK. Really, it is fine. You are there, and we are here. I'm OK, you're OK. But you don't get the benefits of commiserating with an amazing tribe of women who, every single day, get up every morning, earn a living and support a family financially, logistically and face the prospect of lifelong solitude while schlepping it to the gym and squeezing into that size 6 pair of skinny jeans and braving the wondrous and terrifying world of dating in 2016 — all while hugging and rocking and yelling and encouraging and singing to and laughing with and scolding their children every day.
And yes, that is what it means to be a single mom today: less than a quarter of dads who do not live with their kids are actually involved, and about as many moms receive any kind of financial support from their children's fathers.
What does solo mom mean?
Sometimes I hear from women who insist they are not single moms, but solo moms. They want to make clear that they are in fact suffering/stronger than/ their struggle is more real than other women who parent outside of a traditional heterosexual, married, cohabitating relationship.
Solo moms and single moms are the same thing.
Moving on ….
That's right: The vast majority of single moms are really, truly solo moms.
Nearly 3 in 10 kids today are growing up in a separated family, and more than 80% of those kids live primarily with their moms — 20 million of us. This does not mean that the other parent / father is MIA, or does not want to be involved, or is not a 50% parent, or has fought through family court to be more involved. You can read more about the gender-equality benefits of equal parenting, as well as the child welfare benefits of equal parenting in my work.
My own research found that 51% of single moms have their kids in their custody 100% of the time, and 36% have them the majority of the time. That is a lot of solo moms, who of course are really also single moms.
What is the difference between solo parent and single parent?
Typically this debate of solo vs single parent comes down to this:
Solo moms say that they have no co-parent at all. They are solo moms by choice, or their kids’ other parent is otherwise not at all in the picture.
Single moms are all other unmarried moms.
Worth reading: Washington Post: “Why I Can’t Call Myself a Single Mom”
Bottom line: So, are you a single mom or solo mom?
Instead of engaging in the misery olympics and humble bragging about how much support you do not have raising your kids, let’s all agree that there is a wide and flexible definition of single motherhood, and we can all benefit from redirecting our energy to supporting one another, advocating for policies that benefit all families (affordable child care and health insurance, paid family leave, equal parenting policy), and lay off the symantics.
Solo moms say that they have no co-parent at all. They are single moms by choice, or their kids’ other parent is otherwise not at all in the picture. Single moms are all other unmarried moms.
How are remarried mom’s single moms? My husband’s ex called herself a single mom her kids had four parents who were all involved and my husband had primary custody!
Hello. My husband died when my daughter was 1 and a half. I’m pretty sure I’m a solo parent, not a single mom. It’s not a “misery competition”, but the situation Im in and the challenges I face are different than those of single mothers. It’s similar to how you point out here, quite accurately, that married women who are not supported by their spouses may feel like single parents, but are not and can’t understand fully the experience of single motherhood. A single parent is not in the same situation as a solo parent and similarly can not fully understand the experience of solo parenting. Again, I agree it’s not a competition, but accurately naming one’s circumstances (aka I am a solo parent, not a single parent) legitimizes and reaffirms the lived experience in a meaningful way.
Exactly. Her whole post is loaded d with aggression towards Women who truly do it utterly alone, calling out Women who think they do it alone and broadcast as such. What an absolute load of nonsense and entitled crap. You do you and you have every right to call out the differences. As she does with the other demographics. Hypocrisy at its best.
You missed the marks here…although I didn’t read the whole article I get the gist of it…let’s be clear a person relationship stays has nothing to do with parenting…A person can be single as far as relationships…but if there are two parents giving forth effort they are not single parents…because they’re working together as parents…it’s called co-parenting…A single parent, single mom or dad has absolutely no help from the counter parent…and this is where confusion comes in…there are many different types of single…however we have to go in context…Just because a person is not in an intimate relationship doesn’t mean they’re acting along when it comes to parenting…Rhetoric and Comprehension was left out in schools with the no child left behind bill and that is where a lot of people struggle on the English language…smh ♀️
If a man basically provides all a woman and the child needs though not married to her, comes around every other day, supports in training and taking care of the child etc.
Should the woman be termed a Single Mum?
As soon as I see race involved in the criteria for who can say they are or are not a single Mom, I immediately lose interest. This has nothing to do with race. That would be as ignorant as saying only a certain race deals with DV which again, would be incorrect.
As a single Mom, as in, I am 100% the only parent, the only one providing everything for my child, no assistance and both of us being survivors of DV.
If you are a Mom who is single but co-parents successfully, congratulations! Single Mom technically yes because not in a relationship and a Mom but, not in the realm of the Mom’s who carry 100% of the responsibility of taking care of their child. Don’t try and earn a badge that comes with a lot of blood, sweat, and tears.
Finally, stop tearing each other down. Build each other up. Be there with a hand held out to help a fellow Mom. It isn’t a contest.
I think your comment sums up my feelings. The article had me going back and forth different avenues of thought. I have gotten frustrated lately with happily divorced women calling themselves single moms. I think it is very dismissive of those women I consider “single moms” – fully responsible for everything in life with no support financially or otherwise from the other parent. I am a married stay at home mom of five. For 13 years, Monday to Friday, my husband is out of country working. I am 99% responsible for raising the kids and running the household… I am not a single mom and if I divorce, I will not be a single mom. The term is neither an honour nor a disgrace… it is simply a statement of circumstances one has either chosen or been saddled with. However, “single” is a box to check under martial status… So I question my opinion again… sad things can’t be black and white.
I sgree! I was floored when race was added to the mix. I am glad someone else agreed. A single mom is doing it on her own no matter what. I have been the single mom of my 3 boys. I was married to my 1st son’s dad for a year and then we were divorced. I pretty much did everything by myself. Yes he paid child support now and the and yes he had visitation which he often blew off, but I was still a single mom. My 2nd son has never met his father, nor do I receive any support from him in any way. I also have a 3rd son that used to be a student of mine that I adopted. To me this article was racist and divisive.
Exactly this – what a toxic article! Well done for speaking up.
Its weird that you made it about race. Maybe the divorced mom thing is a privilege issue, but single vs solo mom is not about class or race. Its about the term single mom implying increased responsibility not about dating availability. Single moms who never see their kids beyond convenience but arent in a relationship shouldnt call themselves single moms.
Interesting read but you totally omitted widows – solo parent, on a whole different level. No more solo of a mom on the planet.
What was the point of this article? Was this solely to justify yourself? Women are more than capable of figuring out their status regardless of their ethnicity. They do not need a white woman babbling on about virtue – hypocritical no?
Thats what I thought she was trying to say. That she doesn’t agree with the term and understands she is not a single parent rather a co parent? Both provide equal.
I don’t disagree with your view point at all but I feel if my husband and I broke up tomorrow I would not be a single parent not because I don’t want to be associated with that term! I think being a single parent requires so much and should be valued so highly! But I feel the term single mother in the situation of divorce or co parenting without ever being married puts all the onus on one parent and let’s one of those parents off the hook. I feel typically this parent would be the dad (not all cases for sure just probably higher instances of that being the case). If my husband and broke up I would expect to continue to co-parent our children therefore I wouldn’t actually be a single parent I would be more single and a parent. He and I are both equally parents and I would actually feel that either of us calling ourselves single parents belittles the work/ value of the other parent! Also getting divorced doesn’t mean my husband would stop being a dad to our child he should continue to do the work to be our child’s parent which as I mentioned before I feel the term single parent takes that responsibility off of one of the parents. Plus it in a way belittles the work of parents who are all by themselves in a way. I think it would be very different to be a single mom of child where the father had died than it would be to be a divorced single parent who still have involvement from another parent. I do appreciate that there is a lot of variables in this that some people are single parenting even though they are married! I just find it an interesting topic to think about because there is no solution at this time really because it depends a lot on the dynamics of the relationships. I do worry that it does a bit let one parent in a co-parenting situation off the hook/ devalues their contribution.
I read quite a bit of what you wrote but when it became evident that you were divorced and raising a child together with your ex, I stopped reading.
I stopped reading because I don’t believe or support your therory, your definition. I’m sorry you can’t call yourself a single parent because you are not SINGLE-HANDEDLY raising your child! You share that responsibility. You share the costs of your child, their activities and any other costs. A true single parent is just that…..they are playing the role of both mother and father and raise that child solely on their own. This doesn’t have anything to do with race either. I’m white. So all of you who are divorced are not single parents. You are in fact a divorced parent.
I have to agree. It’s disrespectful to the father who is present, active, and happily involved in their child’s life. Try raising a child or children with a real deal deadbeat. Then you will understand real single motherhood. Trust me, it ain’t what you want.
I absolutely agree. Well said! I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was really bothering me about this article. I kept reading all the way through, too. I was trying to see if I was considered a single mom. The writer claims that we shouldn’t put so much meaning into the definitions and labels, but then goes on about the definitions and labels like she has something to prove to the world… I am a person of color, so it was BIZARRE that she spoke for all POC when she said that she’s never had a POC bring up this conversation. Like, way to completely exclude actual women of color from the conversation and make it about white privilege. If that’s the case, why am I here?
Furthermore, I AM married, but I have been separated from my estranged husband for 2 years. We’ve tried a few times to make things work, and he sends a small amount of child support (which did increase since he got a new job over the summer), but for the most part, I pay for our child. He sees him every other weekend from 9-5 on Saturdays. The rest of the time, I am the sole caregiver. According to this author, if you’re married, you’re a phony, lol. I’m not a woman whose husband goes on hunting trips or works out of the country, leaving me alone at home with the kids. I’m a working mother who makes all of the decisions for my son, spends significantly more on his well-being, and gets minimal help. I was adopted by an older family, so my mom passed away nearly 10 years ago, and my dad is almost 82 and can’t help out. I have some family close by, but I’m still doing it all myself. I haven’t had a day off to sleep in and do whatever I want since my son was born.
After some consideration, I don’t think I qualify as a single mom. It’s not because I am married but because I receive financial support from the other parent and he does watch him once every other week. Single moms really are parents who do it all without any help from the other person who helped make that child. Single moms are parents whose partners walked out on them and don’t help one bit. I’m all for expanding the vocabulary of who a person is, but I feel like this phrase is designated for the women who struggle every day without the help of the other parent because the man refused to step up.
Allie, Well said. I have been a co-parent and am a single mom. I was married to my oldest son’s dad and he did help a little bit. My 2nd son’s dad has absolutely nothing to do with him and never has he checked out the moment he knew I was pregnant. I have also adopted a 3rd son, and I do not get any help from anyone on that front. I feel like this author is trying to diminish a lot of factors and that she is very devicive and hor words.
I am tired of the “single mom” saying when yes they have a 50/50 custody, family members that jump in to care for their kids, and she chose to live in that situation. This said, I have been in a situation where my husband lived in another state due to employment and my son and I were on our own with ZERO family around. Yes, I had some financial support (not much with two households on our income) and I had to make due. I cherish that time I had alone with my son. I was IT, it was tiring but I bonded so much with him that 10 years later we are still like two peas in a pod when we get together. When I hear the plight of the “single mom” when they have both their parents, their sisters, their brothers, their child’s fathers family in the picture living in the same town, etc. I want to tell them to STOP playing that tune. True single motherhood to me is someone who has ZERO support system in terms of financial, parenting, or family help and is raising kids on her own, period!
People who want to harsh on other moms for not “doing 100% of the parenting single-handedly” really just want to brag about how hard-core they are by excluding others from the category. I’m single and I’m a mom so I’m a freaking single mom. I have my kids 90% of the time however I don’t remember asking anyone if that percentage is ok by them.
Yes! Love ur comment. I have raised my child alone. Her father became a drug addict once she was born, left the country and died not speak to her let alone financially help. His family is not involved , and my daughter has no siblings because I refused to have more children unless I was better off financially or married. My family is small and almost all of them moved far away. It sucks so bad and I knew this would be out lives. I really wish there was mire help out there I’ve never received a dollar on child support and I work go to full time scholl don’t own a home can barley make ends meet and i really hope one day we will have a better life. All I can do right is love her it seems.
I tell you what the definition of a singe mom is. One parent in your child/childrens life. Playing both rolls of both mother and father. Your child/children relies solely on you for love, support, guidence and financials. Your NOT a single mom when you have shared custody. Your not a single mom if you have an active partner in your life. Your not a single mom if you have a caretaker. And let me tell you being a single mom is the hardest job one could ever have, yet the most rewarding.
WHO CARES??? I can’t even imaging caring who calls themselves a single mother and whether or not they “qualify”! What’s the prize here?? Being a single mother isn’t a good thing. As you said yourself in the article it’s lonely, worrisome, etc. I am a single mother. I left my husband 3 years ago. I’m American and he’s Nigerian/British. I canceled his green card application so I suppose he’s left the USA but I don’t know for sure because I haven’t talked to him in so long that I don’t even remember. He has never given me so much as a box of diapers for our son. I don’t have another man. I’m not even talking to or dating anyone. I own my house and car and work full time. I don’t even have a sitter. I’m a single mother in every sense of the term, but do you think I give a damn if a woman who is NOT completely alone like me claims single motherhood? I really don’t understand this.
Ok so I consider myself a true single mom. I have a almost year old son and I am the only parent. His dead beat sperm donor is in federal prison for the next 15 years for healthcare fraud, money laundering and wire fraud for creating a healthcare fraud scheme (a drug rehab) to exploit vulnerable victims (addicts. And me) for his monetary and sexual gain (me again. I got pregnant as a client). Anyways I’ve petitioned for his rights to be terminated. Anyways I struggle with now considering myself a true single parent bc despite his biological donor never paying a penny in child support or having custody or visitation – so I do literally everything alone but am now in a relationship with somebody. He helps out now with my son but we are far from married and I still pay for everything for my son and do everything for him and don’t expect my boyfriend to do anything. Like if i have to run to the store I will still bring my son with me instead of asking my boyfriend to watch him. But today when I called myself a single mom he flipped out! Mind u were are having issues and are on the verge of breaking up and have only been together for 5 months. Am I a single mom still ? Or am I just a mom in a relationship now? I mean if we break up (which we have been like every other week) then he won’t see my son anymore. So aren’t I still a single mother ?
If the father is in the picture with time, money or emotionally… lets say you share custody 50/50 – then you are not a single mom! You are a part-time mom!
I get very heated when talking about this topic… because I AM A TRUE SINGLE MOM! My child’s father has never been in the picture… he has never seen her, never contributed a dime to support her needs, I do not receive child support, I do not have emotional/financial support from a new partner, I have little family support (besides from my brother who babysits while I’m at work – AND I pay him to do so). I am single and have been since she was born. I work full-time, I’m a full-time graduate student, and I care for my daughter’s emotional, financial, and physical well-being full-time by myself. I’m tired of people who collect support and send their kids off with dad for the weekend calling themselves “single moms.” I’m tired of remarried women with children from a past relationship where biological dad doesn’t play a role calling themselves “single moms.” I’m tired of women who live with their parents who play a huge role in raising and supporting their children calling themselves “single moms.” And, I’m tired of women who share custody with the biological dads calling themselves “single moms.” I find it totally and completely offensive to those of us putting in the good fight day in and day out to support and care for our children 100% totally and completely every day on our own!
Yes to all this. I also do have a similar situation and have felt deep anger and resentment toward others that get support wearing the title like they’re a martyr.
Thank you Lindey
I face this regularly. I am 100% in the same boat. And I am white, not privileged.
My boyfriend left me when I was three months pregnant. I have not dated since. Who dates a pregnant woman. I gave birth on my own. And I have been on my own with my child since always. Zero child support from father. Work? How can you work when you have no one else and no financial means to hire help?
Court? I’m in CA which means that the liberal Left leaning judges can and will give custody to the father which lowers his amount he would have to give only to take my child 50% so fighting for child support is out.
No retired parents to babysit for me. I literally carried my baby while I worked.
Then when other moms tell me they are single moms too I desperately get hungry for their advice!!! HOW DO YOU DO IT? HOW DO YOU SUPPORT BOTH OF YOU?
Reply from the “single moms” – I work while my child is with his father and I receive $2k a month in child support.
WTF! You are not a single mom. You are just no longer with the bio father.
And on top of it these moms still get welfare.
Whereas I earn just a little too much to get that help.
Really makes me angry. And as for this article. No. It is not white privileged. I am white. I am a very single mom. I’m in CA which is worse. And all that happens when I say I am a single mom, other single moms and dads try to compare and say they are too. They have no idea what a single parent with a new born is like.
MY Sons father has him 40% of the time and whatever he needs the father is around. No I never call myself a single mom. Sounds like you have a problem miss millionaire club Mama
Yes, yes, and yes!!!
I think the problem is tying your marital status in with your parental status. Why not just refer to yourself as a mom. The only time it Should matter to another person is when you are dating for a serious relationship. For me, I would want to know precisely what the other parent’s involvement is.
What if the father is in the picture but only financially? In any other way, I feel and reclaim the title of “single mom.” What if the father wants 50% but only to reduce financial support – i.e., for improper and selfish reasons? I do not think that the 50/50 to begin with is always a good arrangement or indication of anything at all. I was mad when the child custody evaluator in our divorce case used air quotes around my “single mom” statement. Like it was not really true. It was complete true and heartfelt.
I’m a Solo Mom.
I’m not a “single mom”, I’m a Solo Mom.
My husband passed away. I’m the only parent that my children have now.
Maybe somebody heard a widow/widower mention the “Solo Parent” term and they thought it would apply to single parents, but it _doesn’t.
Even if the other parent has disappeared, they can still come back at some point. Years from now, the children could reconnect with their other parent, maybe it’ll work out and maybe it won’t, but it’s possible.
My children can never pick up their phone and call Dad. They’ll never get another text from him. Not now, and not 25+ years from now. Even children that have a parent incarcerated and will never set foot outside again can communicate with that parent. They can tell them about their day. They can ask for advice.
A Solo Parent is alone. All of the parenting is on them. I now carry the weight of being both parents, since Dad is dead and in an urn.
I’m sorry but you are NOT a single mom when dad has 50/50 custody and also pays child support. Is he a single dad as well? Single moms are women that parent all on their own. ALONE. No help from the dad. I’ve never heard women NOT want to call themselves a single mom considering they act like that makes them AMAZING. Can’t believe you made this a race thing either smh. Keep holding us down.
I loved this commentary on “who is a single mom”. I was married 13 years and was forced to get divorced while pregnant and with a 2 year old with special needs. I was only ever a single mom and raised both my boys alone from infants to sending my last to college next year with no help. But I had a strong career and was able to give my boys a good home and my flexible job in sales allowed me to be there for school activities.
I was laughing so hard at your comments on married women calling themselves “single moms”. I have heard many women do this when there husband is away for a while or when they may have to travel alone with their kids. It does make you want to take them to the guillotine! Thanks for putting that out there it’s nice not to feel alone. And sister – those “tax reforms” this year were so painful! They really took successful single Moms (outside of business owners) to the cleaners when they took away our “Head of Household” Really enjoy your blog!
I got into an argument with my daughters father who I as married to for 3 months before we had to flee our home when she was 5 days old. We are separated for 7 months now, Doing counseling but don’t know if we will live together ever again.
So far I still have reason to fear staying married.
He got upset when I explained how hard it is being a single parent and doing the same things as him after hearing him rant about his financials and busy life. He does help buy her things or will send money for a specific item. He never had a job in the 2 years we lived together prior to marriage. He also never kept up with the house. Would take my car without permission and even put me $8,000 in debt before marriage repeatedly stealing from me.
I kept thinking he just needs to get on his feet he is going through a rough patch. Soon our Financials will be combined hell pay me back. Until then he’ll be a stay at home dad no day care fee great right? I just wanted him to be happy again and changed all my financial information.
I’m still providing %99 for myself and my daughter. Before I even provided literally everything for him while being pregnant and working 2 jobs.
Am I not considered a single mom until I decide wethor or not to stayq together in the future? Even if a whole year or longer passes and were still separated? When taxes come around its going to be terrible for me and not true to what I’ve lived litterly as any other single parent.
I think a single mom who kids are not even living with her is not a single mom….when one kid is living with dad…another is living with an ex boyfriend and the two yoinger ones is living with tbe curre t ex…just so that tbe oldest ends up living with one of the grandparents thats no a single parent thats a single woman….
Pretty sure you’ve pissed off more women than you’ve supported with this well-intentioned but completely off-base opinion, Emma. Feels like racist click-bait. If you’ve got shared custody and take thousands in monthly spousal-support payments you are clearly not a single mom. Further, it’s a blatant affront to single moms (who we honor for their daily struggle) to say that you are.
I class myself as a single mother, & I don’t care who disagrees. I am divorced from a very nasty individual who took off into the sunset with his affair partner & left me & my three girls, one of whom has special needs. He also left me with a crippling mortgage, but I was fortunate enough to have a good job which enables me to keep a roof over our heads – We’ll never be rich but we just about get by.
I have sole custody but my ex does pay a small amount of child support which I had to fight hard for, & most goes on my daughters therapies. Anyone bringing up children without a partner & has most of the responsibility is a single mom. All of us have differences in situation but everyone of us has their own individual struggles & battles to fight.
I agree the definition i have always understood is the parent who the child solely lives with and provides for on thier own regardless of childsupport is a single parent. Until a new partner takes on %50 or more of the household/children’s expenses.
At that point a new family blooms. You support each other.
Plus if your divorce is only pending but set in place then your a single mom already. You were abandoned for Christ sakes that effects you fincially you could of been homeless. And emotionally.
What if you have full custody but the father has visiting rights. And was supposed to pay child support but mom never received any support?
I know people who literally get $5 and some who get $200 every once in a while. It takes alot for them to sit in jail.