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I’ve learned from my friends who are single mothers that they face a lot of criticism and personal questions. When I think back, I’ve been guilty of “feeling bad” for single mothers too or celebrating them like they’re heroes. Let’s avoid more awkward moments in the line at the grocery store when you notice a single mother. Keep your mind on the delicious meal at your next big family gathering, instead of asking your niece with three kids when she’s going to “find a father” for her kids and get married. Here are some things you should never say to a single mother regarding parenting, their child’s father and whether marriage is in her future.

Mother-Father Relationship

There seems to be as assumption that a single mother did something to drive her child’s father away. Strangers and family members ask invasive questions like:

“Why isn’t their father around?”

“Why did you break up?”

“Why didn’t you want to get married?”

I cringed just writing that. Can you imagine what it’s like being asked to explain a painful breakup to someone? If a single mother wants to talk about a past relationship, let her initiate the conversation. Don’t pry. It’s none of your business.

Father-Child Relationship

Yes, it’s important for children to have a close relationship with their father. Just because a couple isn’t married, don’t assume their child is losing out. Plenty of unmarried parents are co-parenting well and sharing custody of their children.

Single mothers of little girls told me they’re often asked, ““Don’t you worry they’ll have Daddy issues when they are older?” Ugh. That question is based on the assumption that little girls who don’t live with their fathers will have issues. Single mothers don’t want to hear your sad forecast for their children’s lives because their parents aren’t married.

“Do you get child support?” is another common question single mothers are asked. It’s uncomfortable to answer especially when it’s asked in front of their children. It insinuates that a “good father” pays child support and a “bad father” doesn’t.  Financial support is important, but it’s not the only piece of a puzzle to raising a child.


Divorce, break ups, death of a spouse and personal decisions are among the reasons mothers are living the single life. No matter the reason, you shouldn’t assume that a single mother’s goal is to get married someday.

“Don’t you want to be married?”

“Why didn’t you choose a man who would marry you?”

Those are just a few of the annoying questions single mothers told me they’re asked. If a single mother hasn’t gotten married, respect her decision and move on.

Pity and Judgment

Chart topping singers like Beyoncé and Katy Perry perform songs with “girl power” lyrics and remind women of how strong they area. But single mothers say they’re often the object of pity from the public or their family members. People say insensitive things like:

“I get what you are going through.”

“You’re so strong!”

“Oh, I feel so bad for you.”

“I’m a single mom this week! My husband is out of town.”  Don’t compare your husband’s business trip or vacation to being a single mother. Chances are he’s coming back. Single mothers are running solo households year-round.

We all know how babies get here. The single mother had sex, adopted or had in vitro fertilization. Strangers have been bold enough to ask single mothers – “Do you know how to use a condom?” Ouch! It takes two to create a child, but single mothers told me they experience an overwhelming amount of judgment for getting pregnant and raising their children by themselves.

Comment below: Why do you think people ask single mothers such personal questions? How can we be more sensitive and less judgmental of single mothers?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joyce Brewer is an Emmy award-winning TV journalist who’s the creator/host of MommyTalkShow.com. The work at home wife and mom is also the author of Use What You Know: A Business Idea Guide for Moms. Joyce loves Starbucks café mochas, creating YouTube videos and catching a nap whenever she can.

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