by the Thrive leaders
No matter how long one has been in the single parenting gig, some comments always hurt to the core. Most probably mean well when offering single moms these comments, but we are called as a church to do better when we know better. Here are some comments to avoid when speaking with or about a single parent—and some ways to direct the conversation instead.
1. “It is just a season.”
While the Bible does say there is a season for everything, the single mom needs to hear hope. Being told that this is just a season reminds her of the fact that she does not see an end to this season. All she can picture is raising her kids with the same exhausted self and drained bank account, and she does not see it getting any better.
Instead, validate that her present is hard and that you are there for her as she takes the next steps to navigate what is best for her and her family.
2. “You need to find a boyfriend” / “Someone special is out there, and you will find him.”
A boyfriend is not going to help her current situation; in fact, one could complicate her life.
Instead, encourage her to lean on Christ as her husband and the provider for her family. Once she is fully relied upon Him, He will do the rest, according to His plan. And yes, while the right guy might be out there for the “finding,” what is most important is that she fixes her focus on her relationship with Christ.
3. Any comments on her parenting.
I will never forget the lady who berated me in the middle of the Aldi’s shopping aisle for raising rude children. My daughter had accidently stepped in front of her cart and stopped short. When my daughter did not say, “Excuse me,” the lady berated my 5-year old—and me—for being rude. She also called me a horrible parent.
This person saw only the surface level and extended no grace. She did not see this incident as the harmless act it was, nor did she see that I am doing the best that I can. For sure, single parents’ kids mess up—just like any kids. Instead of commenting on how she should be parenting, seek to understand single moms and offer to give her a break. Remember, she is doing the very best that she can.
4. That she is using single parenting as an excuse and needs to get with it.
This one is probably the worst comment one can ever utter, and I have personally heard it from several family members. Being a single parent is not an excuse. It is her situation, and she is managing it to the best of her ability.
Extend her grace. In addition, be understanding if she is late, cancels, or does not return phone calls promptly.
5. “I can relate. My spouse travels a lot.”
Nope. No, you can’t relate. When your spouse travels, you have an “end date” for doing bedtime by yourself. You have time to prepare for your spouse’s departure and return, regardless of how long the trip is. A single parent does not have an end date. Remember that 9 out of 10 single moms are doing this parenting thing completely on their own.
6. “It must be nice to have a break from the kids.”
For the single mom who has a seamless custody arrangement, is a great thing, but unfortunately, this is not the norm. The break is not nice, but instead, a reminder of a family split forever. The time is normally spent cleaning, picking up extra shifts to make the bills, and trying to play catch up. The single mom is never “off” regardless of whose weekend it is with the kids.
7. Any shame comment such as:
• ”Kids really need both parents.”
• “Boys need their dads to be the role model.”
• “I would make their dad pay more support.”
These comments suggest shame and are harmful to a single parent’s wellbeing. The single mom is already working on her feelings surrounding being a single parent and the stigma that is automatically assigned to her and her children.
Instead, speak life and hope into to the single mom. Be her cheerleader and her prayer warrior.
This is part of a continuing series on our Thrive ministry. For more information on how to care for single moms, check out the Thrive ministry page for the complete list of posts! Thank you for your support of this ministry!