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Mum’s the Word: The Secret to Overcoming Single Mom Stereotypes

Friday, September 18, 2015


Even presidential candidate, Jeb Bush, had sentiments to share regarding single mothers and their offspring. Photo Credit: The Scarlet Letter IMDB Page (Image Cropped)

In the last four years of single parenting, I’ve heard plenty of negative ideas and stereotypes about single moms. 

From oh-so-clever memes, to casual, thoughtless comments from co-workers, I’ve heard that single mothers are desperate, irresponsible, and essentially damaged goods. 

Even presidential candidate, Jeb Bush, had sentiments to share regarding single mothers and their offspring. Imploring that society return to the practice of shaming single mothers, Bush stated single motherhood “limits the possibilities of young people being able to live lives of purpose and meaning.”

Many might look at memes or hear political rants and feel hurt or discouraged.  

Some of us single mothers might bend over backwards trying to prove that our children are just as happy and taken care of as children from traditional family homes.

In fact, I used to be that somewhat paranoid single mother, and I’d do everything that I possibly could to hide any weakness that I had. 

After doing that for a few years, though, I give up. 

While I don’t agree with the memes or quotes above, I also don’t agree with the contrary viewpoint that single mothers are somehow stronger or fiercer than traditional mothers. 

Not every single mother is Erin Brockovich. Then again, not every single mother is Casey Anthony either.

In fact, single mothers are just like married mothers. 

We aren’t totally pathetic, and we aren’t war heroes either.

There are children of single mothers who end up making terrible choices, and there are children of married mothers who make terrible choices. Is it just me, or is the common denominator children?

While I’ll be the first to state that I’m a hardworking, responsible, fairly down-to-earth woman…there may have been a couple days last week where I cried softly to myself while eating mint chocolate ice cream and drinking wine for dinner. 

I’m a human being, and life’s difficulties sometimes turn me into an SNL parody about the mothers of Orange County. The more I accept my humanity, though, the more I stop caring about whether or not Bush’s predictions about my daughter’s life are true. 

In the end, the secret to overcoming stereotypes is not to think that you are an invincible woman of the Amazon. The secret is to simply realize that your mission in life is not to change the opinions around you. 

Your mission is to simply keep your kid(s) alive and not get too many ice-cream stains on your favorite shirt. After all, we live in a world where even Jennifer Lawrence and Matt Damon receive criticism. 

So let’s just be the best we can be and let the silly memes and politicians prosper.  


Related Slideshow: Mum’s the Word: Four Ways to be a Joyful Single Parent

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1. Have Perspective.

View yourself through the eyes of people who love you instead of through people who don’t even know you.  Most of the time when we feel bad about ourselves it’s only because of what someone else said or did to us. It’s hardly ever because we genuinely think that we suck.  It’s difficult, but try not to focus on the people, statistics, or even the media that tries and dictates how we should feel. 

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2. Cherish.

Take advantage of the one on one time you get to have with your daughter or son. Yes, you might end up in a Ms. Bates and Norman Bates situation…but let’s be optimistic here. More than likely, you will experience a strong bond that may have not existed had your home life been different. Cherish that.

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3. Connect.

Even if you don’t have a significant other, appreciate the connections that you do have. I don’t have a spouse, but I do have a great best friend who is willing to travel with me on family vacation just so I don’t have to travel alone with a four-year-old. I also have a great group of siblings who are willing to come over when I need them to and hug me through the tough times.

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4. Dream Big!

Do the same things you would have done if you hadn’t have become a single parent. Your goals may take longer to achieve, but you are still able to pursue them as long as you have the right attitude. 


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