Who deserves to call themselves a “single mom”?

how do you define 'single mom'?

`Related: Why do so many married women want to join my single moms' groups?

How do you define ‘single mom'? The answer is complicated and rife with bitter debate.

As can only happen in class-weird America, people in this great nation can be heard vying for the right to claim rights to refer to themselves as a “single mother.” It is an interesting and relevant debate — one that speaks to how unmarried moms move forward with our lives as individuals, but also how we collectively define with our place in the world. First, let's get out of the way all the broads who are not single moms.

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 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.

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?

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!

My answer?

Uh, no?

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.

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.

That's right: The vast majority of single moms are really, truly solo moms.

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.

Not yet.

Worth reading: Washington Post: “Why I Can't Call Myself a Single Mom”




emma johnson family
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.

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. Erica on August 22, 2013 at 10:48 pm

    that’s the thing… I guess “single” relates to relationship status, but the way “single” and “mom” get put together as “single mom” makes it sound like you are parenting alone. That’s why I’m not sure what to call myself. I don’t want to call myself “divorced mom” but I feel like that is more accurate. I’m a mom and I’m not married, but I was and that person is contributing to my kids support. I do feel like describing myself as “single mom” would almost negate any support I’m receiving from my ex. Not that I care about him getting credit, but I don’t need to get extra credit that when there are women out there doing a lot more.

    I’m not sure there’s really a right answer so I just try to avoid describing myself in these terms if possible.

    • foxorce on March 7, 2016 at 2:50 pm

      Divorced mom. That’s exactly correct. Any mom who has joint custody and shared placement with the dad shouldn’t be calling herself a single mom. It’s all a matter of semantics, but nowadays it not only diminishes the dad (who is very much part of the kids lives) as well as single moms who are truly raising kids alone because of deadbeat dads or dads who are literally…dead. Think about it.

      • Deanna Fullerton on December 19, 2016 at 3:25 pm

        Totally agree…. single mom is exactly that…single ,sole provider…. I had identical twins girls when I was 23. Father wanted no part. I raised them on my own 24/7, no support payments, no weekends off, never used the “system” for money. I worked two jobs for the first 10yrs or their life, bought a small home, twice, and never once used the term ” I’m a single mom”,, First I hate that term, and when I hear girls use that usually when they want to complain about something, I cringed inside, as they are getting child support , getting every other weekend off to themselves…… lol…sorry but your not a single mom… I referred to myself as I am just a Mom”, always…. my girls are now 24, and both worked hard and have graduated from University as Nurses, and both work in hospitals now. I’m proud to say,,,,,it’s tough to be a real single mom, but the rewards are priceless…

    • Ela on August 25, 2016 at 9:44 pm

      If you have help from the other parent at all you are not a “single parent”. Does your child see their other parent? Does the other parent help financially? Does the other parent give emotional support? If the answer to any of those questions is YES then you are not a single parent. You are not a “single mom” or “single dad” you are a “mother” who happens to be single. You are a single woman, but in no way shape or form a “single mother”, you have help parenting.

      • Chris on January 13, 2017 at 9:25 am

        Thank you for acknowledging the single dad. It seems the single dad gets overlooked. I stumbled across this article trying to find any sort of help for single fathers. I am that true definition, the one who has always done it on his own. My son is 12 now and his mother left us when he was 1. I’ve never complained about it because I really enjoy our relationship and cherish every moment I spend with him while not working. Every now and again I wish I could get some financial support because that can be a struggle. If there is any help out there for the single dad I have not been able to find any. If anyone out there knows where I could look please share that info.

      • Ugh you people on March 16, 2017 at 1:04 am

        What if the other parent pays support because they are legally forced too but has no part in the children’s lives (doesn’t call, doesn’t see them etc). I’d say that qualifies as a single mom even though child support is paid. You have nothing else.

        • KAY MERCER on May 10, 2018 at 12:27 pm

          Single parenting is a term used for a person that emotionally and physically own most or all the work. Paying child support is a piece of cake! When you are alone and no one gives you even that weekend break, your job is hard. I was a single mom with child support and nothing else for the most part. The dad starting seeing his son more when I tried to raise the child support. No, in every sense of the term, a single mother, I was it. My son to this day every year calls me on Father’s Day to thank me. He knows the workload was hard on me but I never slacked off nor found boyfriends or husbands to make it easier in my life. I didn’t want my son having the influence of a man in the house not related to him and maybe not treating him right. If your kids see you as a single mom, they are the true judges. They see how rough the job is. My ex-husband had it easy and my son knows it. He is 32 years old now and still says that I was a single mother raising him. For him, he knows it was an emotional burden to be so alone but he also saw how strong I was. Nobody can define this except your children! I just heard a woman call herself a single mom in the same sentence as “I remarried”! It made me mad, red-hot mad, and I plan to approach her with her statement. Is she kidding me? It will never be the real dad in the same house but you have support and if you don’t see it that way, kick the bum out because he is taking up space and preventing you from the rightful title of single mom.

          • Wow on May 11, 2018 at 1:55 am

            You were not a single mom. Period. You had financial support and whether you admit it or not you had some physical support because I’m sure had something happened to you your child’s father was more than capable of stepping in regardless if he ever did or not. More likely you made it difficult no matter what he contributed.

            You my dear were a single co-parent. Alienating your child from his father seems to have been your main priority anyhow. .

      • Jessica on November 28, 2017 at 8:28 am

        I get less than $250 a month- and only because it’s withheld from my son’s fathers’s check- and only steadily the last 4 months- he owes thousands. He has NOTHING to do with our son, despite my attempts over the years here and there to be an adult and be cordial; the minute he realized he couldn’t ever have me support his sorry behind again he wanted nothing to do with us. I work full time 9-12 hours Monday-Friday and send my son to private school… because the schools here suck. I keep my son involved in sports (and somehow make every game!), volunteer to help with his teams stuff, keep nice clothes on him, help with his projects and homework and don’t date or even think about it because I DONT EVEN HAVE TIME FOR
        MYSELF much less to bring someone else into the mix. I do all of this with not a single immediate family member within 80 miles to help. His father hasn’t seen him play much less called him ONE TIME, EVER- knowing exactly where we are and what our number is. Stretched thin would be an understatement- and you really believe that little $250 comes close to covering even the cost of aftercare much less tuition and all the rest I spend and the every waking minute I invest trying to give my child the best life I can possibly give? No ma’am. I’m thankful for what little support I give- but it isn’t even a 1/4 of what I spend on my son each month.

        • Farrah on July 24, 2018 at 5:00 pm

          You really seem like giving him his kid back rather then acting like that!

  2. Emma on August 23, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    It seems that by claiming “single mom” it is a dig on our kids’ dad — which is not necessarily the case.

    Better question may be: When can a man deserve to call himself a single dad?

    • Tony S. on May 15, 2015 at 10:41 pm

      When he is widowed?

    • Sean on March 27, 2016 at 6:07 pm

      I raise my kids 100% by myself. I get zero child support. Their mother hasn’t seen them in years. I would say I’m a single father. Although I don’t use the term because I have a girlfriend. I use the term full-time dad.

      • Emma on March 28, 2016 at 11:29 am

        OK, I like it. But there are married FT dads, too. What in those cases?

    • k.r. on August 25, 2017 at 9:04 am

      I hate that my ex classified himself as a single dad when he has his daughter less then half the time, and knows nothing of her school work or extra-curriculars. He organizes nothing. Just shows up and pays when he’s supposed to. That is a co-parent. Not a single parent. He pays for half of one child. I pay for 100% of everything for my two. I make all the decisions, appointments, etc. I am a single parent. My kids haven’t seen or received so much as a letter, much less a dollar, in over 5 years. I don’t think co-parents should compare themselves to single parents. It is indeed frustrating.

  3. Dr. Leah on August 23, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    Thank you for opening up this intriguing conversation. Obviously, married women/those in partnered committed live-in relationships are NOT single moms. And they sound frankly pathetic and whiny when they characterize themselves as such. It was an uncharacteristic misstep by Michelle Obama to do so — count on it NEVER happening again.

    Every permutation [choice, chance, divorced . . ] under the “single mom” heading has advantages and disadvantages — and there is no way and no reason to measure who carries the heaviest load.

    • Emma on August 23, 2013 at 3:28 pm

      Thanks Dr. Leah! I agree, but what about these caveats:

      >>>What about families where custody is civilized and shared 50-50? What if you get a fat support check every two weeks? 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?

  4. Pamlet on August 23, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    Emma? Do we share a brain? I wrote about this a few months ago & got some heat for her from my married friends.


    • Emma on August 26, 2013 at 9:16 am

      Great post! Seems most single moms gripe about that topic at some time or anther. But what are your thoughts on unmarried moms who have many advantages – like financial wealth, lots of free time, a great relationship with their ex, etc.?

  5. Derek with MoneyAhoy.com on August 24, 2013 at 10:39 am

    To me, if there is a child with no father or male in the house, then they are a single mom. If they are getting alimony or child support they’re still single. They have to do all the stuff to keep the house running, they should get credit for that!!

    • Tianna on January 9, 2017 at 3:00 pm


  6. Seanna on August 26, 2013 at 9:30 am

    I have been doing a lot of soul searching on what it means to be a single mom. I am not with my son’s father, or anyone else for that matter (romantically/partner-wise). I do recieve child support from him. Although in the single mom (parent) continuum, I am doing pretty well. I have a job that I love that pays me a decent salary, I completed my schooling before I had a child and I live where I have family and friends support.

  7. Emma on August 26, 2013 at 9:57 am

    @Seanna – I hear you saying you struggle to call yourself a single mom because you’re thriving. Interesting, and suggests that “single mom” has such a negative connotation for you.

  8. Seanna on August 26, 2013 at 10:23 am

    @ Emma, I haven’t meet very many single moms who are thriving in real life, or have very many single mom friends in general. Most are either married with kids or have no kids and single. Most of the media protrayals of single moms are pretty dismal. I think I struggle in own the title of “single mom” because it has been this way since day one, single parenthood is my norm. I think it would have been much harder if I started out co-parenting and had to adjust then.

  9. Eric Schwartzman on May 17, 2014 at 6:39 am

    An interesting article re terminology. I am a divorced dad paying child support but not alimony to my ex-wife to cover among other things the shelter for my children while they live 50% of the time with her in our old apartment. She is engaged band when she remarries her new husband is moving in with her.

    Do I call myself a Single Dad? I have wondered whether I have that right. As the kids don’t live with me 100% of the time?

    But I do pay 100% of the child support under NYS law to their mother. In effect I pay 150% of the required food / shelter / clothing formula as in addition to paying the support to her I support them fully when they live with me. Does that give me the right to say I am a single dad?

    Probably not as the kids receive emotional support across two households from two parents etc.

    As the writer states there is a certain street cred of stating you are a single parent but the term should probably only be reserved for those parents who are doing it fully on their own with no second parent in the picture financially or emotionally.

    Does my Ex think of herself as a single mom? I cannot say. Would it bug me if she does? probably. Especially when I have no proof that 100% of my child support is being used fully for my children’s needs or knowing as I do that it covers the roof over head when she is gainfully employed, granted she earns substantially less than me and I am happy my children continue to live in our old 3 bedroom apartment where with me we share a single bedroom apartment in Queens.

    Do I have gripes? Of course but what divorced single parent doesn’t.

    • Emma on May 17, 2014 at 5:45 pm

      Eric, this stirs up so many thoughts including many stories I’ve heard in recent months from disgruntled divorced dads. These — like you, I sense — are good guys, devoted dads, with feminist politics. But something goes amiss in the divorce process and they do seem to be getting screwed. A few examples:

      -One dad who earns about the same as his ex– in the six-figures — but because he earns maybe $5k more he is subject to NYS child support laws and pays her 25% of his gross. Like you, his living arrangements are far, far inferior to hers, even though he too has 50% custody.

      -Another’s ex earned a PhD while they were married, never contributed financially during the marriage, and now pays her $100k per year in support and alimony, and has 40% custody, and again, lives in inferior housing. He said that during a meeting to discuss taxes she flat-out refused to admit the sum that he gives her “because she wants to see herself as a struggling single mom.” (his words, but …)

      It seems that the pendulum has swung too far in so many cases … part of the problem is that the majority of parents who are not in committed relationshisp with each other – the guys are loser, negligent dirt bags. So judges have little sympathy for these dudes. And alimony is still in effect (though being phased out).

      In short, the underfunded legal system has not yet caught up with the nuances of what is going on in professional families where both parties are capable of supporting a household, and both parents are equally involved, rendering obsolete the argument that one parent should have a bigger/nicer home on behalf of the children.

      I’ve heard plenty of grumbling bitter men, and don’t think you fall into that category.

  10. j on November 15, 2014 at 3:35 am

    It really felt unfair when I was an impoverished single mom, greiving for my ex who had become abusive and mentally ill, we got no child support. My mother mocled me and laughed at me saying I told you so …even though she did nothing when at 15 I met my 30yo future ex….and other women with tons of helpful aunties, grandmas who babysat more than twice a year when I had to go to the dentist, support checks and housing that wasn’t drafty/haunted/a former meth lab and who could send their kids to school unlike me bcs my ex was trying to kidnap our son….with all that help and ease they called themselves SINGLE MOMS?!

  11. kelly on January 28, 2015 at 5:17 pm

    I call myself a single mom because the father of my child is not in the picture at all he has never once bought a pack of diapers he never saw him besides the five mins at the hospital in 06.did the whole child support thing but he said he would never pay a dime and the court found it in the best interest for the child to just leave it alone… i have never had help from his side of the family….. i have worked my butt off to make ends meet…. So i see it as if you get help from the other parent like money he keeps the child sometimes and is in the child’s life then you are not a single mother…

    • Emma on January 29, 2015 at 2:47 pm

      Really? If you get any child support or any visitation schedule you’re not a single mom? Some moms will get out the pitchfork!

      • Ela on August 25, 2016 at 9:49 pm

        Yes that’s 100% correct. To be a “single parent” the other parent needs to be 100% absent

        • Yaya on November 5, 2016 at 5:13 pm

          That is JUST your opinion and very insulting. It is not a fact. The fact is that YOU have no right to decide how another woman defines herself. My daughter sees her father every other weekend. He pays as much child support as he can manage. But when she is sick there is ONLY me to take her to the doctor. I am the ONLY one that can stay home with her. It is ONLY my responsibility to make sure she is clean and fed every day, goes to school, does her homework, behaves and is polite. The 4 days a week she spends with her father is not formative. He is a great guy and loves her very much. But I am a SINGLE mom, and nothing you can say changes that. Maybe try a little more compassion and understanding and a little less judgement.

          • Wow on May 11, 2018 at 2:22 am

            You are not a single mother and you are not a princess or a teapot or a unicorn either- I don’t care how you want to define yourself.

        • Eva on July 5, 2017 at 2:12 pm

          According to 34 CFR 400.4 (b) [Title 34 – Education; Subtitle B — Regulations of the Offices of the Department of Education; Chapter IV — Office of Vocational and Adult Education, Department of Education; Part 400 — Vocational and Applied Technology Education Programs — General Provisions], the term single parent means “an individual who —

          (1) Is unmarried or legally separated from a spouse; and

          (2) (i) Has a minor child or children for which the parent has either custody or joint custody; or

          (ii) Is pregnant.”


          Please, do not undermine the efforts and struggles of parents who have to keep up with the household and childcare expenses on their own, because while they share custody they do NOT receive any financial or emotional support and are SINGLE. Seriously, you would think that being a single parent would teach you some compassion and humility. If single moms are as hateful and judgmental, as some of the ones I have been reading about I would never want to classify myself as one, but then what the heck am I…just a woman, crying in the dark because she couldn’t afford to pay the electric bill yet again, just so she could cover her apartment rent, when all the while her ex is making over 300K, has three houses, a new wife and a baby and does not pay child support. But hey….I am NOT a Single Mom, BECAUSE we share custody and we both see the kids and BECAUSE Ela says so. Bravo! ANd before anyone starts talking about me, I do have a steady job as Financial Analist, and one in the evenings as a food delivery driver, and dog walker, but being alone is hard to care for the household expenses, even with three jobs. I do not DARE classify myself as a single mom, even though I am SINGLE and I do not have family or any financial support, but when I read some of these 100% statements I don’t know if I should laugh or cry…just because in some cases the kids truly have only one parent to turn to (and my respect goes out to those parents) and in others they see them both, doesn’t make the situation of any of the parents in that second case any less challenging or give them an automatic life partner and support.

    • Me on July 11, 2018 at 9:57 pm

      Agree! If your kids other parent pays child support you are not a single mom/dad. I despise my ex but he pays support so i dont classify as a single mom. Even if he paid a dollar a month i still wouldnt because its something of support though cant even buy a candy bar with it.
      I am a mom. Thats it.

  12. Terry on February 2, 2015 at 9:12 am

    I am a sixty year old grandmother of 5. My son is married and my daughter is going through a divorce. She and her husband (ex to be) share joint custody and she gets some alimony. I don’t consider a “single parent”. I have always considered a “single parent” as a widow or widower, or someone who is raising children with no other parent in the picture. (Raped or accidently got pregant and the father doesn’t even know they have a child) To me “single parent” means the children only have one parent. My daughter is not going to be a “single parent” because her children have two parents that are alive and known. That’s just my two cents.

    • Emma on February 6, 2015 at 12:53 pm

      Interesting perspective, thanks for sharing, Terry.

    • DivorcedFather on August 28, 2017 at 12:20 pm

      Terry, Agreed….

  13. Henry on February 23, 2015 at 9:26 am

    Can any mom who get help and support from friends and family,be called a real single mom she is not married and the father is gone with another woman. Only one child is involved.

  14. Reggie on March 11, 2015 at 8:00 pm

    This topic is pathetic. Whoever said parenting would be easy. Married, divorced, widowed, widower, single or involved, parenting would still be difficult. I recieved custody of my kids, before that I was paying child support, health insurance, schooling & clothing. Now the point to this being said is that times will be hard, discouraging or even hopeless. We all face this possibility of single parenting., nothing guaranteed but death. We all have or had choices to make and you must stand by it. Overall your kids see more than you know. More attention on kids and not your individual status for self gradification.

    • Eva on July 5, 2017 at 2:15 pm

      Thank you!!! Couldn’t agree more!

    • Wow on May 11, 2018 at 2:26 am

      Thank you.

  15. Linda on April 25, 2015 at 3:46 pm

    I am a step mom of two (now grown) kids. I have a rare situation in that their father and I raised them because their “mom” wanted to “find herself”. Her self-appointed role was to take them shopping and on vacations. She would call our house every night to tell them she loved them and see how their days were. Now I find out that she has touted herself to be a “single mom”, which I find very insulting. She did not want to do the hard work of raising her kids, and by claiming to be a single mom, she has discounted, even dismissed, their dad’s (and my) contributions to their lives. Raising kids is hard work and a thankless job. I praise all those truly single parents who devote their lives to raising their kids to be well-adjusted, hard-working adults. Kudos to you!

    • Emma on April 27, 2015 at 3:50 pm

      That is a really interesting perspective, thanks for sharing. I wonder if there can come a time when you can develop some empathy for the mom – sounds like she has all but abandoned her kids, and her guilt is leading her to play the victim card. Tough situation for all involved. Your stepkids are lucky to have you.

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  16. timber on May 7, 2015 at 10:42 am

    The ‘single’ in single mother is not about relationship status, but rather how many parents are involved, in any way, in the child’s life. If the other parent is involved then you are a co-parent and not a ‘single’ parent. I was asked once to help with a local girl scout troop. I had seriously considered it when I had informed the leader how busy I was and the fact that I was a ‘single’ parent. She then went on to tell me that she was too and had plenty of time to lead the troop… I then asked, ‘So, the father isn’t involved in any way in your children’s lives?’ She told me that of course he is involved and that they have joint custody. So

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  17. timber on May 7, 2015 at 10:45 am

    If you have your child 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year without any support financially or emotionally… Then you have earned the title of ‘single mother ‘… If this isn’t the case, then count your blessings and stop complaining.

    • Emma Johnson on May 7, 2015 at 10:47 am

      Funny how you assume the use of “single mom” = complaining. I don’t feel like that in the least.

      • Yaya on November 5, 2016 at 5:15 pm

        Exactly. It is not complaining. It is a fact. I am a single mom because when the ish hits the fan, I am the one who has to take care of it. He’s not a bad dad, but his part time involvement should not diminish how much I do. I am writing a paper on this for school, and it makes me so upset and frustrated that other women think they have a right to judge me and how I can define myself.

        • Wow on May 11, 2018 at 2:31 am

          Well, except that small detail of it not being a fact….

  18. Fathima on June 2, 2015 at 1:56 am

    Gosh your articles are so well-written, I have to comment on every one of them lol. I have had a lot of relatives claim they’re single moms by virtue of the fact that their husbands are usually away on business trips, or some other weird reason. This apparently is to keep me in line, even though I never complain about being a single mom (man it’s tough, honestly). Literally have to bite my tongue to refrain from saying that a single mom is one that is divorced, a widow, or never got married.

    • Emma on June 4, 2015 at 8:00 pm

      Oh I’ve been there. I try to remember: It’s all relative, ya know? Then I think nasty thoughts and hope they don’t come out my mouth.

  19. Meagan on June 17, 2015 at 3:54 pm

    I have to agree that “single mom” should be reserved for those moms who have to learn to be both the mother and the father in their children’s lives and fulfill both roles. Moms and dads play such different roles for their children and each provide a different perspective for the children. A true single parent has to fill both roles. Even more scary for the single parent is the huge concern for how to handle the unthinkable if it happens. A single parent doesn’t have that backup if they become incapacitated or dies. And the job is 365 days a year with never a break.

    While I am married, my parents divorced and my dad was always there. Oddly enough, their divorce meant I ended up two moms–though it took a while for that transition because I felt very bad for my mom. I was taking care of my mom more than she took care of me in the early times.

    If “single mom” means that there is a dad in the child’s life but they are just divorced, then this seems to just translate into whether a woman is determining to juggle dating and raising a child. When a woman uses that term, I think of a woman meaning that she has to do it all and doesn’t have back-up–which is completely different from having joint custody and sharing responsibilities. I have a friend whose husband travels 3 weeks out of the month, so she has less support than many joint custody situations. And of course, there are military wives whose husbands are deployed overseas for significant time frames and navy wives. I’m confused about what “single mom” is suppose to mean when the dad is in the children’s lives–do the children have a “single mom” and a “single dad”? Is this just a dating term? Because if “single mom” is suppose to mean those parents without emotional and logistical backup, why wouldn ‘t it apply to all those in that situation? I am really curious and don’t understand . . .

    • Wow on May 11, 2018 at 2:47 am

      Bingo! I think back to my own childhood where dad was gone months on end with the military. Where we didn’t have phone calls much less Skype etc…. where he didn’t make much money and we lived thousands of miles from any other family member. I remember spending very few days during my childhood where dad was the only parent around. My dad didn’t know my daily activities and mom did the carpooling, getting us up in the morning, etc… With some of these women’s stories I guess my mom was more of a single mom than they are and she didn’t have the occasional date with a new guy either or the weekend free. Poor mom. But then this was 40 years ago when that was called life, and mom’s didn’t complain and label themselves something that diminished the actual support and role of the father.

      Don’t worry, you understand perfectly. Single mom is the new “feel sorry for me and my life decisions” moniker that gets them accolades for doing what pretty much every parent (married, divorced or widowed) does at least some time while raising a child and have been doing for thousands of years.

  20. Tyson on July 20, 2015 at 12:39 am

    Thank you for this post. I am doing some research for personal reasons. My mother recently told me that I often say that I “did it all by myself” referring to the years my son was a baby and I was single. She disagrees with this point and said to me “You did not do it all by yourself. I bought you things to help out and your sister moved in with you to help with childcare and yet you always say this and it is incredibly frustrating.” I could not believe how mean she was being to me as my sister was not the father and therefore was never expected to do anything to help me out in any way. If the baby was sick, I had to call out of work out or I had to find help. The responsibility fell to me in the end. Always. That, to me, is a single mom. Some have it much more difficult than I did but we don’t need to be that specific. Being a single mom is hard. No matter what. And should be respected. No matter what. This article and all of the comments helped me release a little anger towards my mother because she isn’t saying “You weren’t a single mother and therefore don’t deserve all of the accolades that comes with it.” In fact, she was saying “You didn’t do it all by yourself. You had help.” Very different sentences but when you consider yourself a rockstar for accomplishing some of the hardest years of your life, sometimes you misconstrue what people are saying when they critisize even a small piece of it. It took reading this to gain some perspective. Point being…thank you for your help.

    • Emma on July 20, 2015 at 2:17 pm

      Thanks for sharing / venting. Ultimately, 3 things: 1. It is very hard to be a single mom. 2. You probably did have a lot of help. 3. You still felt alone. All true.

  21. Candace on July 20, 2015 at 9:11 pm

    I am a single mom. I am married but seperated from my three beautiful childrens dad. He was abusive towards me and justified his harsh treatment of our kids by saying they need to learn to fear him. He justified his treatment of me by saying he was trying to prepare me for the real world. Now I won’t tolerate that kind of justification from anyone. I work, and was lucky enough to find a job in which i can work from home and can be at home when my kids are sick or get out of school, have full custody and care of the kids, have the support of my family. The dad wants to be involved but due to our history i can’t trust that his obsessive and abusive behaviour won’t continue if given a chance, he still blames others for his misfortune, can’t hold a job for more than 2 years because he gets fed up with the supervisors. I get $3 a month in child support and when i give the dad a chance to show he can help with the kids he finds a reason that he can’t make it, finds that his friends need him more at the moment, or makes the time and helps but i find that he has been negligent. You can look down on me, you can say what you like about what a single mom is or is not but the important thing is that i have full custody to make sure my kids are happy, healthy, and inspired. I am single mentally, emotionally, and physically if not in writing. I am a mother and my kids and i have no reliance on their dad. I call myself a single mother because that is the reality of things.

  22. Anonymous on July 29, 2015 at 2:51 am

    I have a tough time deciphering if I am considered a single parent or not. My personal status (single married etc) has nothing to do with it, it’s all about the child. I have one son. I will not take him to court because I feel like we should be able to be civilized. (If he gives me a reason to change that I will) at the time (still now) he can’t afford to pay me child support. I dnt bother I just say whatever I ask you to get him, please pay for it. Our son is 4. He would pay for the diapers and formulas and clothes when he was younger. Now he in school and I say get his uniform ( tuition is paid for by my family member) he was upset about it. Like I put my son in dance and basketball (because my son like the activity), he dnt want to contribute or support because it’s nothing that he agrees on. And his dad comes to visit every other week and spends the weekend at my place. Refuse to let me go anywhere alone although we are clearly not together. My contribution – he is with me all the time, he is on my insurance, I pay all the bills in my place, barely have food but make sure my son eat, spend nights in the hospital if necessary, sat up many nights with him with his and my homework while finishing my masters, I lose sleep and time off work to go to school conferences events – basically a full time parent. He feel I should not call myself a single parent, all my friends and family do, and so do I. At the end of the day, the bulk of the blame and responsibility (good or bad is on me), not him. Am I wrong for calling me a single parent?

    • Angela on September 18, 2015 at 1:40 pm

      I believe the title you are searching for is called, “mom”. Wear it proudly without regard to how hard you work, how lonely, how poor, how much family or friends helps help, etc. Moms need to stop comparing themselves to each other. All moms are different, different gifts: some moms have aunts, sisters, exes, grandparents helping emotionally, physically or financially, some do not. If you are raising the kid (s) alone for the most part, then you are a single mom.
      Some moms are not so lucky to have any help from others but they can turn it around and find out they are better for it to be alone (for instance, you have poor family relations or there is abuse). Single moms not blessed with help can be blessed in finding successful careers and be the mom and dad far better than parents who have help.

      • Emma on September 19, 2015 at 8:36 am

        Really wonderful comment. LOVE.

  23. Jan on October 18, 2015 at 4:27 am

    I don’t really take financial support into consideration when determining if I find someone to be a single parent. If one parent cuts a check every month but spends approximately 3 hours a year actually raising the child than I don’t think it’s wrong for the parent who takes care of the child to say (s)he is a single parent even if the support received is enough to cover the financial aspect of raising a kid. Granted I’m not a parent but I do have some knowledge on what it takes to raise a kid and have extensive experience writing checks. Given the choice between the two I’d rather cut a check.

    Also, as a side rant, I’d like people to stop referring to men watching their own kids as babysitters. Unless you gave your kid up for adoption and were hired by the adopted parents to watch the child, you can’t babysit your own kid.

  24. Marie on January 8, 2016 at 7:13 pm

    A single mom is just that, a single person providing all care for that child everyday. They must provide for all bills, purchases, shelter, laundry, medical/dentist appointments, school, school activities, meals, transportation, clothing, bedtime, homework or anything else. No one picking up the kids for the weekend, no one taking them to vacation over the summer, there is no check in the mail. You are on your own to figure it out. It doesn’t make you a hero and it doesn’t make you a victim, it makes you a mom, a single mom. You don’t need to inform anyone that you are a single mom anybody that is in your life will soon be able to figure it out.

    • Suzy Scott on May 12, 2016 at 7:06 am

      Totally agree

  25. Suzy Scott on May 12, 2016 at 7:05 am

    How about just calling yourself “Mom”. Why the need to add anything else to the title but only to ask for sympathy.

  26. Elizabeth on May 12, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    Maybe single moms are not asking for sympathy. Maybe we are lonely, exhausted, and isolated, and desperately want to make a connection. Maybe we find it very difficult to do that when we hold beliefs that other moms don’t REALLY understand what it’s like to be completely on your own, and that it is insulting and minimizing when one refers to oneself as a single mom when she is able to drop the kids off at her ex’s every other weekend and receives more child support in a month than another mother earns on her own. Single moms that don’t have that have to either a)pay for child care, yet another expense we cant’s afford or, b)rely on friends for help in which case when a single mom finally gets a break it’s time for her to reciprocate and keep the friends’ kids. I can’t help but feel sad and jealous that my daughter does not have a father in her life – hers is dead. I can’t help but feel sad and jealous that my daughter does not have grandparents that send her presents and have her over in the summertime. Hers are dead. Sucks, huh? But I always comfort myself knowing that my daughter has a kick-ass mom that loves her to the moon, and she is thriving. I am also completely aware that we have it so good – I have a job, we are healthy, and we have much to be thankful for. I have a brother with a family that we get to see twice a year. We get $576/mo. SSI survivor’s benefits, since her dad left us nothing. I make $27,236/year, and I finally have insurance, but by damn we are ok. So perhaps, if you are a single mom who feels isolated and overwhelmed, find a community. Find people who show empathy, rather than sympathy. That’s partly what Emma’s site is for.

  27. Parker on May 17, 2016 at 2:05 pm

    Why not just call yourself a single woman instead of single mom if the dad is there for the kids.

  28. bookworm on May 24, 2016 at 9:40 am

    I’ve never been a single mom technically but I felt like one for many years. When I got married my husband was really immature and quit his job about a month before our first child was born. For about 7 years I was mainly the only one working. He had a few jobs but either quit or was fired from them after 1-4 months. He spent most of the 7 years unemployed playing on the computer all day at home. I worked, managed the bills, did the grocery shopping, did the cleaning, and took care of our son when I was home. He didn’t watch our son during the day when I was at work. Our parents did. Some moms can identify with single moms eve if they aren’t technically single on paper.

    I’m thankful to say that now , after all those years, something clicked in my husbands head and he began to change. In the last three years he has worked and brought in income. He’s not good at cleaning still but he helps out with his children and has tried to spend time with his family. I no longer feel like a single mother.

    • Donna Morrison on October 2, 2016 at 3:26 am

      I’m very glad your situation is changing. I also am amazed that you stood by your man. Good for you. Just hope you have less of a burden on your shoulders.

  29. Amy on June 28, 2016 at 7:42 pm

    I found this article following a disagreement I had with my girlfriend of two years.
    She refers to herself as a single mother, however, has split custody with ex husband (who by the way makes over 100k a year, my point being the kids NEVER go without) they do a great job still coparenting, and then myself.
    When she says that, I have trouble understanding what my place is?
    I work a lot of long hours being in the medical field, and I times am awake over 30 hours before the kids even get out of school. To make things easier for her, I pick them up, or go for groceries, tidy up her house after I’ve already done mine, money goes both ways, and after two years of this, she claims the title of Single Mother. Am I wrong to be completely offended?

    • Bruce on July 8, 2016 at 2:00 pm

      No, you are not wrong. Your girlfriend should not call herself a single mother because she has “split custody” co-parenting with the father and you also help out. By calling herself a single mother, she is being dishonest. She’s claiming a title of hardship she does not deserve and insulting you and the father by dismissing your support. The single mother or single parent title is not a precise term, there is some wiggle room, but your girlfriend’s situation does sound to me as if she even comes close to deserving the title and the true hardship it implies.

      • Emma on July 11, 2016 at 1:27 pm

        But why does ‘single mother” automatically connote hardship. I am a single mother (no one would argue with that) and I live better than 99% of the people in this world. That title is simply a fact.

  30. Chris on July 8, 2016 at 4:20 pm

    Neighbor and friend Julie calls herself a single mom to claim sympathy or as an excuse for certain situations.

    Julie married Bob and they had 2 children together. Bob worked full-time to support the family, he does not have a college degree, but did well. His job did not require travel, but lot’s of hours so Julie was the primary caretaker for the children and homemaker. They lived a good life, but Bob had to work a lot. Bob tried to find other work so he could be home more, but the 2008 recession hit and things at work just got harder at work for Bob. Julie had enough and moved out with her two children. Bob pays child support and spousal support and things are amicable between Julie and Bob. The children have now been in school full-time for several years and are in middle school now. Julie still does not work. She has 100% custody and Bob visits on weekends to take the kids out for the day once per week to once per month. He is around for holidays. Bob is not an involved dad by any stretch, but the children do have a dad they know and love. Julie runs low on money. Grandparents on both sides help out. She is a helicopter parent to the extreme and super volunteer at her children’s school. She in an uber parent to her 2 children and manages her small household with others paying the bills. She does not have to balance work and parenting.

    Single mother or single parent is not a precise term, but it does imply hardship beyond a two parent situation. Julie may be a single mom, but she is not a single working mother.

    My wife and I both work full-time and struggle to balance work and family life. Our children go to extended care at school early and come home late. We don’t complain about our situation as if it’s some special hardship, but we are sick of Julie’s “single mom” sob story.

    So, does a mom have the right to claim the single mom title if:
    – mom has 100% custody
    – has an ex-husband who visits and pays child and spousal support
    – gets support from 2 sets of local grandparents
    – does not have to work because other pay the bills

    I think it’s a tough call. She is the single full-time parent, but because she does not have to work, there does not seem to be any special hardship because she does not have to work to support herself or her children. One wonders what she will do when her children go off to college or otherwise grow up and move out.

    What do you think?

    • Ela on August 25, 2016 at 9:46 pm

      If you have help from the other parent at all you are not a “single parent”. Does your child see their other parent? Does the other parent help financially? Does the other parent give emotional support? If the answer to any of those questions is YES then you are not a single parent. You are not a “single mom” or “single dad” you are a “mother” who happens to be single. You are a single woman, but in no way shape or form a “single mother”, you have help parenting.

      • Donna on October 2, 2016 at 3:50 am

        Ela, I receive minimal support from my former husband. For years child support was around $250/month total for each child. I have 2. I have been on my own with my children since my daughter was 6 years old and my son was 11 years old. They are now 24 and 29 years old. I have had the full responsibility of deciding everything as it pertains to them. Both have disabilities and both still live with me. I had to work very hard to provide a decent life for them and it included travel a week a month. There was no one to help. My mother, who has now passed away, gave me emotional support.At the divorce, my former husband declared bankruptcy and I had to follow as I couldn’t pay 100% of the bills. I started again at 50 years old with nothing but furniture. The house and car were gone. I had to dip into RRSPs to help my kids with College and University and pay for their meds and everything else that came up. Because of using some RRSPs last year, I now owe almost $7K in taxes which I just don’t have the money to pay. You can imagine how pissed off I am that D. Trump hasn’t paid any taxes for years. I am now a senior and on old age pension and am struggling to pay bills. My adult children still live with me. I consider myself a single mother yet I don’t want to dismiss the support I receive from my FH.

        • Donna on October 2, 2016 at 3:53 am

          Oh, by the way, my former husband (FH) after the divorce left the country and hasn’t been back. He hasn’t seen his son for over 13 years!

          • Wow on May 11, 2018 at 3:03 am

            Donna, Your children are grown so you are not a single mother and Trump’s taxes have nothing to do with you.

  31. Janice on September 11, 2016 at 6:46 am

    Thank you for bring this subject up because I think it bears discussion and I always think about the perception that the children might have in this situation. If you have a parent and the first words out of his/her mouth is I’m ‘single’, as in romantically available, it could come across as the child’s interest’s are second to the parent finding another partner. It could also come across to a child hearing how their mom or dad is a single parent as undue hardship has been brought upon by being a ‘single parent’ which is what the phrase ‘single mom/dad’ can invoke. Let’s not tell the child how hard it is to raise him/her especially when parenthood is an elective.

    I’m with the ‘sixty year-old grandmother of a 5 year old’, single parent means widowed/widower or only parent. If you are the only parent, then try ‘I am the only parent’. If you are a parent with another parent alive and well and contributing in any way, then say I am a parent, happily or unhappily divorced/unmarried. Your single/dating/divorced status can come second to calling yourself a parent first.

    Clearly a great discussion because ‘single parent’ means so many different things to so many people. Thanks!

    • Wow on May 11, 2018 at 3:04 am


  32. Cindy on October 27, 2016 at 12:07 am

    Ok so all this talk of the other parent not being in the picture. What is the person who has the child is calling themselves a single mom or dad, however does not raise the child? The grandma, grandpa, sister, mom, dad ECt.. Had the child 90% of the time. While that parent works, hangs out with friends, or goes on dates. How bout if the family financially supports the child and the mother? Are they considered a single parent, of in fact they are not parenting?

    • Emma on October 28, 2016 at 11:28 am

      Who has time to suss out such minutea?

  33. ASG on November 12, 2016 at 7:57 pm

    So if I am financially independent but doing everything – and I mean everything on my own – I do not have the right to call myself a single mom?!

  34. Stephanie on November 13, 2016 at 5:07 pm

    I’m a divorced single mother of one adult daughter and I’ve done absolutely everything alone from kindergarten to present. I raised her alone even while I was married because the ex-husband was too busy running after other extracurricular activities. I didn’t waddle in despair and kept on moving. Got tired of making chump change and put myself through college twice and got my bachelor’s degree and MBA all before she graduated high school. So yes, many of us definitely wear the single mother hat.

    Emma, I love your blunt, no-nonsense approach and I look forward to sharing my brand new blog once it’s launched soon.

  35. Stephanie on November 13, 2016 at 5:28 pm

    …, My ex and I were legally separated before my daughter started kindergarten and divorced not long afterwards. He never helped me. It took years to get him to pay sporadic child support. He’s now living away in his home state and it’s as if he never even happened.

  36. Anon on February 13, 2017 at 3:08 am

    My mom never called herself a single mom. My father called himself a single father though all the time.

    But is it weird that my mom never called herself a single mother, or does that show strength?

    • Emma on February 13, 2017 at 9:09 am

      Or false pride – or maybe shame? What do you think?

      • Wow on May 11, 2018 at 3:07 am

        False pride?

  37. Lisa Brown on March 4, 2017 at 12:35 pm

    I am always having debates with my partner over this. So we have been togther/dating for 2 and a half years. I run my house and 4 children and he has his house. We see him every weekend when he visits. He doesn’t pay any thing towards unkeep etc… sometimes he may treat the children and offer to pay half a school trip to help me out.
    So when I’m having a tough week I say how much of a struggle it is doing its all alone and sometimes refer myself as a single parent. I work nights. My dad babysits whilst I work. I sleep when the children are at school.
    So am I a single mum. I mean I know I’m not single but I do the parenting alone. Yes my boyfriend may hoover or cook a dinner when he is here to help out…. am I wrong in referring myself as a single mum

    • Emma on March 6, 2017 at 7:29 am

      You are a single mom with a boyfriend!

  38. Johanna on June 25, 2017 at 11:09 pm

    I don’t see what the big deal is. To me, anyone that has kids and is living alone with them, as in not married and has no live in significant other, is a single mom or dad. I don’t think child support or custody agreements matter. Who even cares, there’s no other term to use really. I consider myself a single mom and it’s not for street cred or anything else. It’s because I take care of my kids 85% of the time, and I don’t have a partner living with me. So I’m a single mom, what I say goes in my house. I’m in charge, there is no partnership. Am I my kids only parent? No I am not, and I do not feel that term implies that.

    • Terry on August 3, 2018 at 3:32 pm


  39. DivorcedFather on August 28, 2017 at 12:31 pm

    IMO, a “single mother” is either a widow, a woman whose kids’ father disappeared w/o a trace nowhere to be found, a woman who had to escape with her kids from the kids’ father because he is a danger to her and/or the kids, or a woman who became a parent on her own (whether via IVF or adoption). Once any of the above remarry (or marry) they are no longer “single mothers” (it goes w/o saying)

    If the kids’ father is involved in the kids’ lives, you are a divorced mother (if you were married to the kids’ father) or a co-parenting mother (can’t think of a better term) if you were never married to him.

    On paper, my ex-wife is the primary custodial parent, but in reality my kids are with me almost (about 40 percent) as much as with their mother. It was me who attended everyone of my son’s soccer games. It is me who spends countless hours helping my kids with their math homework (many times when they were ready to give up in frustration). It was me who ran after my kids more hours than I can count on their bikes in the heat until they knew how to ride. I am more likely to take my kids to the doctor or be in touch with their teacher/s. In all the years my kids are in school, I think I have missed one parent/teacher meeting. And, I still pay full child support (about half my income) plus half the kids tuition, half the medical expenses, half of summer camp, half of after school activities, despite taking the kids way more than our agreement stipulates.

    My ex (despite calling herself as such or, even worse, claims to be “parenting solo”) is no more a “single mother” than I am a “single father”. We are both “divorced parents”.

    “Single mother” implies, to me at least, that there is no father in the picture., so when my ex calls herself that she is not only insulting me, but insulting all the mothers out there truly doing it on their own (like the widow in my community whose husband suddenly passed away last year) with no financial help and no “me time”.

  40. Heather on September 9, 2017 at 9:02 am

    Great post. I’m just recently divorced and can absolutely relate. I’ve been thinking of myself as “divorced parent” until the other day when I had to fill out one of those annoying home survey things for my kids school (where you answer questions about income, number of people in the household, free lunch, etc). One of the questions was whether it was a single parent household. I had never thought about it too much before; am I a single mom? But after thinking about it and reading articles like yours, I’m going to say yes. Though my ex does pay child support, he was not allowed 50/50 custody I have primary, I provide the health insurance, I make more money only because he left his job to go on LTD conveniently while we were getting divorced, he takes his visitation weekends (every other) maybe 70% of the time, etc. So, though he is not 100% absent, I think I’m gonna embrace the title.

  41. Sally on September 21, 2017 at 8:11 am

    My partner has two little girls he has been getting it in the ear because he isnt seeing this oldest girl every single day he takes her out at 4 after school then drops her off at 9 that night this has been the same way for years he and his ex had a one night stand before we met and she became pregnant he told her it wasn’t the right time but she had the baby he doesn’t see the new child and isn’t on the birth certificate she is now on social media saying how she is a single parent and how she’s proud of her self but in reality my partner has his daughter more than her

    • Glenn M. on May 21, 2018 at 11:43 am

      Please use periods and commas and punctuate. It is very annoying trying to decipher your comment.

  42. Jeanie on November 15, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    I feel that this is just ANOTHER example of victim language.

  43. Some Kind Of Mom | Stacey Janelle on January 26, 2018 at 3:44 pm

    […] I once made a comment of how being a single mom is hard. I was questioned, “Do you receive child support?” “I do. It pays for Des’ preschool most months.” “Don’t you live with your parents?” “I do. They’re a huge help. I couldn’t do this without them right now.” “Well you’re not really a single mom. You’re just a mom who happens to be single.” (As it turns out, there’s a number of stipulations that must be met to refer to oneself as a single mom.) […]

  44. Mitch on February 5, 2018 at 12:24 pm

    The following are “single mothers”:

    1) A woman, whose ex husband (or boyfriend) is TRULY a deadbeat father and not involved with the kids in any size shape or form, who has not remarried

    2) A widow who has not remarried

    3) A woman who was forced to flee with her kids and abusive husband who is TRULY a danger to her and her kids

    4) A woman who had kids on her own (whether via IVF or adoption)

    Otherwise, such a mother a NOT a “single mother”, but a “divorced mother”. It’s not rocket science.

  45. Ally on August 8, 2018 at 5:49 am

    My sons biological father abandoned us while I was pregnant. My son is 4 and his “father” has never been seen or heard from. He basically disappeared. I don’t get child support because they can’t even find him to perform a paternity test. I have no family help. I’m sole provider for myself and my son. I don’t get breaks. I feel like shared custody and time with another parent doesn’t really qualify you as a single mom because, well… you aren’t alone in raising your child. That’s called being a co-parent.

  46. Eri on August 17, 2018 at 6:02 pm

    Ok, so I hear ya’ll telling me I’m not a single mother. I am divorced after 17 years and have my kids half of the time and I get a little child support that is taken out of his paycheck. My ex is an awful nasty person. I wish I would have fought for more custody. We can not discuss issues with the kids because he is argumentative. No, it’s not just me, even my kids know it. I do things for my kids all the time when he has them because he says he can’t. Our agreement says he is supposed to pay 80% of all of their extra expenses, he pays maybe 10% and that I usually fight for. I am a full-time student and a substitute teacher, so I make zilch. I will graduate this year and teach and he will still make more than twice what I make, but he won’t pay for the kids’ haircuts or braces or sport’s uniforms and fees. In fact, I got my son braces believing he would be paying at least 60%. When it came time he never had the money and 5 months in I’m still waiting as I make the payments every month. So great, I’m not a single mom than what the hell am I? I’m sorry but I feel like my life would be easier if I had my kids all of the time. Dealing with a difficult ex can be a nightmare.

  47. monica on October 11, 2018 at 8:30 am

    Any mom who is divorced is a “divorced mom”. Sorry if you don’t want divorce to define you, but you chose to get married, now you have to live with the consequence! I am one of those who had kids on my own – on purpose – a Single Mom by Choice. My kids have been with me 100% of their lives and I have supported the financially 100%. Of course I have friends and relatives who have provided emotional support, but this is so very different that friends whose kids leave at regular intervals to spend time with their dads, and/or those who get financial support from an ex. Also, most divorced dads also love and care about their kids so there is someone else to care about their day to day and life achievements as well, which is something Single Moms really miss out on.

  48. Corey on January 17, 2019 at 11:27 pm

    My ex who left me for another man when i worked helped around the house and payed all the bills calles herself a single mother. She is no longer with that man and pulls the woe is me bs. I pay her 900 month and am re married with 3 other kids with a non working spouse paying all the bills..i drive a 1988 model car and eat canned soup every single day. She drives a new car and get nails done and eats out. I take our son to all his dr appointments still. She pulled that shit to get people to feel sorry for her.my thoughts is grow up bitches and quit feeling entitled. Own up to the responsibility of how you feel and quit putting it all on us men.you are responsible for your happiness. I worked a lot because she didn’t want to help.so she says we dont spend time together and she goes..you got arms and a leg.help me and i can be home more.screw all of yall

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