The Stigma of Single Motherhood

This post originally appeared as a guest post on the blog “Single Mom, What a Life!” Go check her out!

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Of all the things that have hit me like a truck in this motherhood experience of mine, being judged for being a single parent has been one of the worst. In such a powerful, special time I have often felt like the whole world was against me. Even now, three years into this journey I feel like I can’t complain to anyone about being a single mom – like their judgement is just waiting to erupt at the slightest provocation.

“Well you chose this.”

“Maybe you are just bad at life.”

“You made your bed.”

“Because you are a single parent your child is likely to end up in prison.”

These things, and more, are all actual words that have been said to me over the past few years. I try to remember: I chose to be awesome and strong and have my baby and be here, showing up for him every single day. It’s really no different than what a partnered parent is doing – we all love our kids to the moon and back. I’ve hated that my love has at times been deemed as less than a partnered mom’s love. How bizarre.

For me, this kind of treatment has led to me being really hard on myself. Not only just being hesitant to complain, but feelings of…well perhaps I am a bad mother and perhaps I have done my child a huge disservice to my child. Perhaps I shouldn’t apply for child support because this was all “my choice” and now I’m some strange brand of gold-digger if I do. I could go on and on. See, I’m as hard on myself as others have been on me. Maybe even harder.

Well guess what, all those judges combined with our negative self-talk is just only unproductive. Here are 5 tips for getting over the harsh words from ourselves and others.

  1. Focus on the good friends. Not all friends are good ones. There are some who come reallllllly close but still just aren’t good for us. And then there are those few true gems, those ride-or-die, able to be so silly and so honest – sidekicks for life. I now believe you don’t need a hundred friends behind you. If you have even one true friend in this world – you are doing really well. So go on and spend your time and energy on your real friends – you know who they are. And show those not so good friends your boundaries and say goodbye.
  2. Pat yourself on the back. You never hit the snooze button. You are always on call – every minute of the day and night. You have a job and a side hustle. You even have a side hustle on your side hustle. You do all the careful discipline, the careful praise, the cooking and cleaning, the worrying and decision making. Damn girl! Pat yourself on the back. Daily.
  3. Vent. To one of those good friends. To a therapist or coach. In your journal. On your blog. You’ve got to get it all out. You need it and deserve it. Anyone who shuts you down on this is not your friend.
  4. Be self-aware. Martyring. Jealousy. Forced gratitude. Acting like it’s all perfect. Lying to others. Lying to yourself. You know what you are doing that is self-defeating. So let’s stop doing it.
  5. Go outside. Bad talk – from ourselves and others – is about the most unnatural thing I can think of. Hit the reset button but going into a natural space. A beach or a trail. Or just go sit down and lean against a tree for a bit. This one has never, ever failed me.

Happy trails back to being kinder to ourselves and less judgmental of others. Hope to meet you out there!

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