Things never to say to single parents

As someone who has had extensive experience with single parenting, and who also knows lots of other single parents, there are certain comments from usually well-meaning folk that make us laugh, cry or hurl (depending on mood and personality type).

I’m so sorry to hear that!

You mean well, I get that. But my life is not necessarily as bad as it sounds. Surprisingly, there are the occasional perks to single parenthood.

Did you try to make it work with your ex?

I tried really hard, honest! The first time he left a wet towel on the floor, I forgave him. The second time, well, I called the divorce lawyers immediately.

Do they have the same mother/father?

It’s strange how single parents are more likely to be asked this than coupled parents. This could be due to what I call the ‘degeneracy assumption’ – e.g. single mothers are associated with multiple sexual partners, drunken one-night stands, accidental conception, etc.

Kids brought up by single mothers turn out like…

STOP! We feel guilty enough about the future delinquents/sex deviants/mentally unstable weirdos we are bringing to the world. Don’t add to the guilt by telling us they’re also going to be… engineering students.

You should stay together for the sake of your children.

Believe it or not, staying with my ex-husband would have almost definitely resulted in engineering students.

I’m a single parent this weekend!

Unless Dave has left for 10 years, taking all his money and emotional support with him, then no.

Your ex is so nice to take on the kids some of the time.

This comment tends to be directed mostly at single mothers about a male ex partner who shares custody of the children.

No, it’s not ‘nice’ of him. He’s their parent too.

It must be nice to get a break from the kids

There’s an implication that parents who share parenting with an ex have it easier because they get occasional time off their kids. However, co-parenting is not all sunshine and roses and can sometimes be more difficult than solo parenting – e.g. arguments over where the kids go to school, how to discipline them, where they spend their holidays and the aching loneliness when they are not at home with you.

Don’t the kids need a mother/father figure in their lives?

This comment is offensive, not only to single parents but also to same-sex coupled parents and other non-traditional family types.

Also, a mother/father figure does not necessarily have to be someone who has a parental role. Children have thrived with grandparents, aunties, uncles, sports coaches and the like.

You should’ve chosen a better partner.

Subtext: You brought this on yourself you silly silly girl.

I can’t believe he left you

Um, actually, I left him. But thanks for the ego-deflating assumption.

Do you have trouble finding dates?

Subtext 1: What person in their right mind would date this egg-stained, frazzled mess of a human with the squawking ‘attachments’?

Subtext 2: Since you don’t have a husband who’s obligated to sleep with you despite your ruined lady parts, you’ll need to reel in a freshie. Who’ll probably still dump you.

Remember my cousin Algernon who collects pen lids and lives in his mother’s basement? He’s in town this weekend. Want me to set you up on a blind date?

Ooh, another freshie! But don’t tell him about my stretched bits yet. Let it be a surprise!