Top 5 Things That You Should Never Ask a Single Mom
With the continued growth of single parent homes in this country, you might think that the slightly invasive and somewhat tactless question would start to wane…but unfortunately, that is not the case in my experience.
I understand the curiosity – but, as a single mother myself, I’m going out on a limb here and saying these five questions are on almost any single moms do not ask list.
1. Are you dating anyone?
I am going to let you in on something…if a single mom is dating someone, there is a good chance that she will tell you about it, before you even have a chance to ask, especially if the person is worthy of talking about. Asking a single mom if she is dating someone, especially within the first five minutes of catching up with her, is like asking someone that got into a serious car accident if they started driving on the highway again. Cue the anxiety. Which is not good for or helpful to anyone.
And while we are here, I am just going to point out that there aren’t many single women, mothers or otherwise, that enjoy being asked this question. In fact, I can recall a few stories from friends where they deliberately avoided social gatherings (typically of the family variety) to dodge this exact question.
So…let’s just leave single-dom of any variety, off the list of questions that start off a conversation. K? Thanks.
2. Is it hard to find someone who wants to date a single mom?
Oh brother, this one kills me, its like “Are you dating someone?” on steroids.
I mean, most single moms have trouble finding time to pee without an audience, so chances are she is having a hard time finding a man that wants to date a single mom.
Nothing good can come from going down this conversational road either – nothing at all, my friend. And even though this is something you may be thinking, it isn’t something you should necessarily be saying.
And may I also remind you, there aren’t very many men that say, “Yep! I WANT to date a single mom.” In fact, if single motherhood is on the list of dating qualifications a man is looking for I would actually say this is cause for concern, and all parties should proceed with caution.
Just like few women I know actually want single motherhood (and even when deliberately choosing that path, moms I have spoken to say they felt like they were running out of options or time, or both), there are probably very few men that seek out single mothers to date.
BUT life happens, and the best we can hope for is that we all – women and men - roll with it and enjoy the ride at the same time.
3. Are you going to have/do you want more kids?
Asking any woman in her 20s, 30s or 40s about her fertility is a really dicey proposition. One that can get you an earful without you ever intending to get one. But despite this (something that will always remain a mystery to me) - people just ask, ask away.
I’ve been asked this question by other parent’s at Ellie’s school, who actually know that I am a single parent.
Let’s just say, the conversation went nowhere good – fast.
When I responded with, “I hope to one day, but I don’t plan on having any more children as a single parent.” The mom smiled and said, “Oh yea, my son wasn’t planned, I was barely dating my husband at the time, but I got pregnant and he made an honest woman out of me and did the right thing, I guess.”
Um…there are so many things I wanted to say. So, so, so, many things. Instead I smiled, and poured more wine into my plastic cup.
4. What’s going on with her father?
Whenever someone asks me this question, I always want to respond, “Go ask him what is going on with him…Oh, you don’t know him? Well then maybe this angle of the story is none of your business.”
Also, Ellie is usually within 5 feet of me, and is now of an age where she understands and hears EVERYTHING, so that adds an extra layer of complication. If you don’t know the answer to that question, then you don’t need to.
And mouthing it to me, despite my excellent lip reading skills, is not acceptable either. Nope, even if there is tequila nearby…still not a good idea to broach the topic.
5. Are you receiving child support?
Hey, how much do you make a year? How much credit card debt do you have? Has your 401k hit the six-figure mark?
Would you ever ask anyone any of those questions? Probably not. Personal finances are exactly that – personal.
I understand, you have an interest in non-traditional families. And as a journalist, I love a good boundary-less question as much as the next person, but this question is just tacky.
So zip it.