Being a mother has always been a major turning point in my life. What I didn’t realise was that there were more turning points that would occur, namely – being a Singaporean mom practicing respectful parenting; being a mom of two, and most recently, being a single mom of two kids, who practices and advocates for respectful parenting.
I can’t speak on behalf of all single moms – however, I would like to share 8 single mom truths that I believe are universal and help clarify some common misperceptions of what being a single mom means.
#1: Being a single mom is not a failure.
Nothing is linked to who you are as a person or your self worth – I repeat, NOTHING.
Whatever happened to you in the past, present or future doesn’t not make you any less of a person. Everybody is a whole person deserving of respect, kindness, love and dignity.
Hence, being a single mom is not a failure nor a reflection of who you are as a person.
Even if there was something you could have done differently, even if you directly caused your marriage to fall apart for whatever reason, you are not a failure, all of us are humans, no one is perfect – everyone is a work in progress.
#2: Families are not whole or broken based on whether they have two parents living together.
Every family is unique – and whether they are a functional and healthy family is completely separate from whether it is a situation of having only one sole caregiver, having two homes or in some cases being separated completely across countries. What’s important to the child is having secure attachment/s to at least one caregiver who is attuned to their needs, and loves them for who they are.
#3: Every single mom’s experience is unique to them.
Every human is unique and have individual needs and preferences.
And the same applies for single moms – we all have circumstances and needs that are unique to us.
So please don’t generalise us and get to know the unique individual – what are our challenges, our resources, our values, our dreams and goals.
#4: Self care and collective care is especially important for single moms.
The wellbeing of the child is closely linked to the wellbeing of the parent/caregiver.
We were always meant to parent as a village; and single parents find themselves in even more tenuous circumstances especially if they do not have an involved partner.
Hence, why collective care – seeking and receiving help from friends, family and the community is so important; so that the well being needs of the mom may be met.
#5: We might not be ashamed to be a single mom but it doesn’t mean we enjoy talking about it.
Although we are probably consumed by our parenting role, please remember that we are more than being a mom, or a single mom. Some moms do have a need to be heard and enjoy processing their thoughts and feelings that way;
Some moms find it more comfortable or even efficient, managing things on their own. If you wish to be there or hold space for a single mom, simply ask her and see how she responds.
#6: It was never an easy choice or circumstance that led to becoming a single mom.
Never say never, maybe there are single moms who chose to be a mother on their own and it was an easy choice for them. However, for the most part – I have heard many different stories of how women became single moms – reasons include, unplanned pregnancies, abusive husbands, sudden loss of spouse, unhealthy marital home environments and more… To be safe, please just be kind to single moms as they have probably struggled with how things came to be and might still be struggling parenting solo.
#7: Single moms have had to grieve the loss of a life they initially envisioned
Whether it was loss of freedom, career, the love of their life, what they hoped the marriage would be or how they envisioned being a mother would be like, there are usually deep unmet expectations.
A single mom can be strong and determined, while grieving and mourning. Both can be true. Again, be kind, which brings me to my last single mom truth:
#8: Single moms need empathy, acceptance, support and love. Just like everyone else.
This truth is self-explanatory. If you’re a single mom, I hope this resonated with you.
If you’re not, I hope it helped develop a bit of deeper understanding towards single moms.
Wishing ALL mothers a Happy Mother’s Day. Please remember to meet your needs so that you can meet the needs of your family.
Footnote: As much as I love being inclusive towards single dads, I labeled this article as ‘mom’ instead of parents because I didn’t want to overstep my boundary to speak on behalf of dads, although I do believe what I’m sharing is rather universal.