Who tells single moms’ kids nice things about their mom?


In the past few weeks I had really sweet experiences with friends’ paying lovely compliments to me via my kids.

Like last night when my neighbors came for dinner with their new baby, and over stew and winter salad Helena complained how her mom (that would be me) yelled at her in the mornings. “Well,” my friend said. “When I see how bright and funny and well-behaved you and your brother are, I think what a great mom you and Lucas have.” Which shut my kid up real quick-like.

Or a few weeks ago, my oldest friend Amanda visited from St. Louis. While she, the kids and I ate banana apple muffins in the living room on Saturday morning, Amanda told my daughter what a great mom she has, how she has an interesting career and takes them on cool trips and  some other stuff I forget because I was just so touched and grateful for her friendship, but also that there was someone other than me pointing out my finer points to my kids. Marketing experts know that promotion is far more powerful when coming from a credible third party — in this case, someone who is not naggingly demanding respect and gratitude all the live-long day (that would be me).

Which brings up a big question for single moms: For all you do for your kids, who do you have in your life to point out those things to your kid? In a perfect world, each of us might have a spouse or partner who genuinely adores you, and organically displays that adoration through myriad words and gestures. In the absence of such a partner, who puts into perspective for your kids what a great cook, or hard worker, or loving parent you are?

How do your kids learn to appreciate you?

Or do they?

Often, I feel like my kid’s really don’t appreciate me as much as I think they should (what can I say, I have an ego — it needs stroking from those I love most!). But then I realize that they are listening all the time. I hear Helena telling her friends or the parents I’m meeting for the first time at soccer practice: “My mom is a VERY GOOD writer! And she has a radio show and is on TV!” I realize that she listens when my friends come over and we talk business, and she pays attention when I tell her about my day.

And Lucas goes beyond in his over-exaggerated way to be positive, will say: “Mommy, those muffins are looking GOOD!” or “Thank you for making movie night.” Maybe it his naturally sunny disposition, or my nightly drilling of gratitude practices or constant “What do you say …?” (Acceptable answers: a) Please, b) Thank-you). Or maybe I have nagged my kid into a gratitude stupor that extends to his mother.



Share in the comments:  Without a spouse, who in your life helps your kids appreciate you?

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10 thoughts on “Who tells single moms’ kids nice things about their mom?

  1. Emma, what a great article!! So true! Here’s the thing, though. If you are a single mom, your kids aren’t hearing anything from your loving husband, but what if you were still married and the guy was a jerk, who didn’t treat you well or ever pay you a compliment? Wouldn’t that be worse? Yes, because kids learn from the behavior they see. So, single moms who were married to guys who didn’t appreciate them and weren’t great role models in this regard should be celebrating that at least their kids aren’t seeing the opposite!

    1. A very positive attitude. I was alarmed when I saw my 6 year old copy my ex husbands insults, swearing and belittling of me. I’m grateful that my son is learning from his nannies, coaches and teachers how to respect his mother.

  2. I moved closer to my parents several months ago so my eleven year old son could spend more time with his grandparents. My mom shared with me that she often tells my son how hard I work for our family and how funny, intelligent, kind I am and how fortunate he is to have a mom who plays hard tag with him at the park and always gets in the pool with him. My first instinct was to kind of roll my eyes but she got very serious and told me “he needs someone to point this out to him or he will never realize what he has”. Lately he has started thanking me for playing with him at the park and for working hard and telling me he is lucky to have me for a mom. These things coming from his mouth carry me for weeks. I am so thankful for my mom’s wisdom and insight. It makes me realize how important it is to genuinely build up my friends in front of their kids and hopefully give them the same kind of gift my mom has given me.

    1. Paige – thank you for sharing this, so beautiful and wise! I’m grateful for your mom — for you, your son and single moms everywhere :) And way to pay it forward ….

  3. Ugh! This hit home for me, hard. In my current situation I have what can only be described as a minuscule support system. My family is two hours away and my awkwardness and minimal social skills keeps me from having close friends. I honestly can’t think of anyone who is, on a regular basis, telling my kid how amazing I am. I mean, he’s only two but still….this mama needs her ego stroked too!

  4. This is not going to be a popular answer, and i hesitate to add it because compared to some situations, mine may seem pie-in-the-sky. But here goes.
    My ex-husband says good things about me to my kids. His new girlfriend says nice things about me to my kids. My oldest told me the other night that the girlfriend said that she “really respects” me and thinks that i am a great mom. And i say nice things about both of them to my kids. And we all genuinely mean it. Crazy, but true. And we worked through some bad shit to get where we are now, but it is so worth it to get along and be on good terms.

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