Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Things you shouldn't say to a single mother

When it comes to pregnancy and parenting, many people lack a filter.  Unsolicited advice seems to start flying out of everyone’s mouth the second people find out you are carrying a baby or have a child.  Most of the time, the advice is merely annoying and easy to ignore, if it isn’t actually helpful.  Sometimes, those questions asked and advice given can feel like a kick in the teeth.

I’ve been a single mother since the day my daughter was born, and I was a single mother-to-be for the majority of my pregnancy.  I’ve heard my share of unfair, rude, and just plain mean comments and questions.  I’ve spent a lot of time doubting myself because of something I was told by someone I barely know.  No one should have to go through that. 

While some people just don’t care or are trying to be mean, there’s also a good portion of people who are simply uninformed that it isn’t socially acceptable to ask certain things or give advice on certain subjects.  This post is for everyone, from married families to other single moms who can relate, to people who fall into the category of ‘uninformed.’

Things you should NOT say to a single mother.

  “You should stay with him for the good of your child.  In many cases, an unhappy (or worse, abusive) relationship is much more harmful to a child than having divorced or separated parents. 

“Do you know who the father is?”  Um…what?  In what world is it alright to ask anyone this question?  This one just leaves me speechless. 

“Are you going to/why didn’t you marry the baby’s father?”  I get this one a lot.  This is very personal, and it isn’t something I feel comfortable sharing with a stranger I met in Walmart who asks where my husband is. 

“But a child needs his/her father.”  I am baffled by the number of people who think a child can’t grow up to be a normal human being unless they have a ‘normal’ household.  Most people picture the typical American family as being white, middle-class, and involving two married parents.  Not all families look like this!  Some families have two parents, some families have one, some families involve a step parent and some families adopt their children.  But they are all families.  The easiest way to bring a single mother down is to insinuate that she will raise her child wrong if a man isn’t guiding her in the right direction.

“But who will teach him how to pee standing up?”  This one comes from a friend of mine with a son and no father in the picture.  I can’t even comprehend what brought someone to ask her this question.  Standing up to pee is not an important life skill, and I imagine it isn’t that hard to learn.
  Did your parents not teach you it’s incredibly rude to ask someone else about money?  This is no one else’s business.

One thing you SHOULD say to a single mother (or any mother)

“I’m here for you if you ever need to talk.”  There is nothing that could help me more than having someone to spill to when I need to get it all out.  If you want to help a single mother, tell them THIS instead of anything else you have read in this post.  And please, think before you speak.

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