My biggest fear was becoming a single mom.
I worried that taking on that role would shatter my dream of raising my kids and grandchildren with the love of my life. Despite my best efforts, my fears came to fruition and I’ve been tasked with reimagining what love and family look like. One of my insecurities during the incipient stages of dating as a divorcee with a child was how my “market value” would go down. That insecurity isn’t wildly abnormal for women like me and we can all guess what fuels that.
Think podcast bros raised by single moms dragging today’s single moms through the mud. Think “high value” men in group chats lamenting the audacity of a woman asking them to pay for a ‘sitter. Think episode three hundred and fifty trash of the late Kevin Samuels telling single moms they are close to worthless in the dating market. Think a video floating around in May from OWN’s Put a Ring on It of a man saying he was too high value to settle for a single mom. I think I’ve gotten my point across, but please, let me know if you’d like me to continue.
Is it wrong for men to not want to date single moms? Absolutely not. As a woman raising my son alone, I can admit that dating a solo parent comes with tons of responsibilities and unique challenges; especially if you plan to build a life with them. Saying single moms aren’t your preference because you don’t want to be a stepparent, deal with blended families, have to work around a mom’s schedule, and accept not being a woman’s number one focus is fair. I can respect it. However, saying dating a single mom is lowering your standards implies that single moms are less valuable and that’s simply infallible nonsense. The issue I have is with the tone of the messaging and the underlying toxic belief systems they amplify.
As mentioned, so many of these men were raised by single moms and it seems their sentiments are projections of the struggles they endured in their homes. That could range from having absent fathers, witnessing ongoing conflict between both parents, feeling like they had to choose sides, or not getting enough time with their father. All of these things can be realities of single parent homes and I agree, they suck. If you’ve experienced that, a natural response is to condemn this upbringing or try not to repeat the cycle. However, when that is expressed as toxic rhetoric like, “Dating a single mom is lowering my standards,” which I’ve heard, it becomes both unkind and polarizing. It also feels like misdirected anger. You loathe the single moms but have nothing to say about the responsibilities of the sometimes subpar or deadbeat dads.
For those arguing, “You should have chosen a better baby daddy—it’s not my job to raise someone else’s child,” maybe you’re right. Accountability is needed when we as women choose terrible fathers, but accountability should not mean condemnation and mistakes also don’t make us less worthy of respect.
Men who devalue women because they’re single parents also show a lack of range when it comes to critical thinking because single motherhood can happen to anybody. It isn’t reserved for women who have one-night stands without protection. There are widows, women who were abandoned by their partners, domestic abuse victims who escaped with the kids, women who unsuccessfully fought for a marriage that was irreparable, and those who were brave enough to decide single motherhood would be better than a loveless marriage. No matter how it came about, it’s nothing to be ashamed of.
What I also find intriguing is that there’s a possibility that these same men who look down on single moms will possibly create single moms themselves. Marriages and relationships that involve kids break down every day and in the process, you create the very thing you hate.
That said, I haven’t had problems finding dates or people who want serious relationships as I parent on my own, so there are certainly men out there who are open-minded and capable of seeing the value in women who work hard to provide a good life for their children. As a matter of fact, an eharmony survey found over half of male online daters would be happy to date a woman with kids. So if you’re a single mom reading this and feeling discouraged, block out the negative Nathaniels and go where the love is.
Single mothers deserve respect–we are the parents on duty around the clock (especially if dads are absent or slack), many of us are excellent caretakers, home managers, as well as compassionate, loving, and can also hold down the fort on our own even when we’d rather have help. It’s fine to not want to date a single mom, but it’s not ok to belittle us, especially if you came from us.