40 answers

What Do You Call a Women with Kids That Is Divorced? Single Mom or Divorced Mom?

i have several mom friends that are now divorced with ex-husbands that participate on various levels. They all get child support and some other help from the dads, some more than others. But all these women constantly refer to them selves as "single moms". i think they are misusing this term. I think they are Divorced moms. To me single mom is someone who never married child's father and hes not in the picture. I have one friend who's husband died and she will tell you she is a widow although she could fall in the single mom category also. What do you think?

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So What Happened?™

i am not calling these women anything, this is a term i hear THEM use when THEY talk about THEMSELVES over and over such as when introducing themselves or in general conversation.
I work with several truly single moms ( never married dad, no help or support ever). These women are amazing. but to put them and a divorcee with support and help in the same category is an insult. They live in 2 totally different worlds.
personally i would rather have been married and get a divorce than to have never been married. I dont see divorce as a failed marriage. If you worked at one job for 10 years then quit or were fired would you say " i failed at being an employee?" probably not. All things come to an end at some point.

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I don't mean to pick on you here (though you certainly seem to be picking on these divorced women you are talking about), but I feel like you want a scarlet letter on their foreheads. (Hope you recognize the literary reference I am using.) They are all single mothers. It is up to THEM to include whether they want to refer to their previous marriage status.

Most women don't want to refer to themselves as divorcee's. Why should they have to? Women who refer to themselves as widow's are revering their dead husbands and that is their decision to do. People are FAR more understanding of widows than they are about divorced women. There are some very judgmental people out there. Are you one of them, T.? (And yes, that's a rhetorical question, not one I expect an answer to.)

You asked what we think, and this is my answer, and hopefully, food for thought for you.

D.

14 moms found this helpful

I'm divorced and have been for 6 years. Most of them were me raising my son alone. I did get child support and we have just started a visitation schedule. There is no one else to pick him up from school etc. I'm a single mom.

Another reason I would call myself a single mom is b/c that sums up my identity. I personally would not want to say divorced every time I was summing up my identity. Divorced mom to me is more negative. I am at peace with my divorce and we get along well and I wish him the best, but I'm not going to make divorced who I am.

7 moms found this helpful

I call a woman with children a mom. It doesn't matter what her relationship status is. If I were divorced, I'd hope people would just call me a mom.

7 moms found this helpful

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I don't mean to pick on you here (though you certainly seem to be picking on these divorced women you are talking about), but I feel like you want a scarlet letter on their foreheads. (Hope you recognize the literary reference I am using.) They are all single mothers. It is up to THEM to include whether they want to refer to their previous marriage status.

Most women don't want to refer to themselves as divorcee's. Why should they have to? Women who refer to themselves as widow's are revering their dead husbands and that is their decision to do. People are FAR more understanding of widows than they are about divorced women. There are some very judgmental people out there. Are you one of them, T.? (And yes, that's a rhetorical question, not one I expect an answer to.)

You asked what we think, and this is my answer, and hopefully, food for thought for you.

D.

14 moms found this helpful

I call her Becky or Susan or Jane or Mary or Kathy or Jennifer or whatever her name is.

9 moms found this helpful

I call a woman with children a mom. It doesn't matter what her relationship status is. If I were divorced, I'd hope people would just call me a mom.

7 moms found this helpful

I'm divorced and have been for 6 years. Most of them were me raising my son alone. I did get child support and we have just started a visitation schedule. There is no one else to pick him up from school etc. I'm a single mom.

Another reason I would call myself a single mom is b/c that sums up my identity. I personally would not want to say divorced every time I was summing up my identity. Divorced mom to me is more negative. I am at peace with my divorce and we get along well and I wish him the best, but I'm not going to make divorced who I am.

7 moms found this helpful

Why are you fixated on the money? Single mom means there is no dad at home. No one to pick up the kids if you get stuck at work. No one to take kid one to soccer so you can go to the other kids game. No one has your back when your boss asks you to work late. The trials of being a single mom is about doing it on your own, not how much money you have in the bank.

I can say I have never heard anyone referred to as a divorced mom. When I was a single mom most people used the term single mom but included divorced after that. Most of the time when I used the term it was when I was asked to do something I simply could not because I wouldn't have someone to watch the kids.

I guess just reading your post it seems you are taking your narrow view and making a mess of assumptions. Regardless of our choices we all ended up the same, single and raising kids. Why the heck does that bug you so much?

Just wondering what your take is on the "single moms" who live with the children's father. They call themselves single moms as well. They have both the money and the physical support. More I am wondering why this bugs you but still.....

6 moms found this helpful

They are single moms. They are single and they are moms. Why is it so important to you that they be "properly" named? Don't set out to hurt people more than they have already been hurt.

Your friend may call herself a widow but my friend lost her beloved husband to a 7 year battle with cancer and refuses to be called a widow. She says that she wants to remember the years that they were given, not be called by a title that makes her seem continually bereft. She is a mom, not single or otherwise.

Please be sensitive to people and don't quibble over titles. Many moms who never married their child's father and still receive child support.

Edit after seeing your So What Happened. It's THEIR perogative on what they want to call themselves. Why are you so concerned about this? Be respectful of your friends if you want to keep them. Since you are not in either situation (unmarried mother or divorced mother) you can't decide for them if the term is offensive or not.

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MY ORIGINAL ANSWER WAS:
To me they are sinlge moms b/c technically they ARE single. It's really up to them how they want to label themselves.

MY ANSWER AFTER YOUR "WHAT HAPPENED"......why don't you just mind your own business and not worry so much about what people "label themselves"? you seem like the kind of person i don't come near with a 50 foot pole why? because you worry too much about what other people say/don't say do/dont do eat or don't eat and all of that =DRAMA. Sorry to be so blunt, but it is what it is.

5 moms found this helpful

Either, but I would prefer "single mom." She is a mom who is unmarried, nothing more nothing else. Using "divorced" focuses on a failure of a marriage, and is more negative. And I am sure she would rather not throw that in her kids' faces all the time too. Single is certainly gentler.

5 moms found this helpful

Single means not married or in a committed relationship. It matters not how they got that way.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/single

5 moms found this helpful

I think that whatever a divorced woman calls herself whether she's a mother or not is entirely up to her and she doesn't deserve to be judged by you. "Single" doesn't mean "never married" it means "not currently married." So if a woman who is a mother has been divorced self-identifies as a single mother, then she's not wrong. She IS a single mother until she marries again.

Your personal preference means nothing.

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To me, the term is interchangeable. But does it really matter?

5 moms found this helpful

They are single moms, they are all single, no matter the reason, divorce, death, never married. Some have it much harder than others, but they are all still single.

There are single moms who are not married, but have active boyfriends whop help raise and pay for the children. They more fall into the married category, but are legally and technically still single.

Married moms are in the same boat, some have husbands who travel or are deployed in the military, so are practically single most of the time. Others have husbands who are lazy and do not help, while others husbands are wonderful. Some married moms feel like single moms.They are both married moms because of the technicality of marriage, the level of their husband's helpfulness does not play into it.

So, while technicalities exist, everyone's situation and support level or ability to handle things is different.

5 moms found this helpful

I think it matters. I think that calling a person divorced attaches a stigma. I would never call someone a divorced mother unless for some reason I had to make a distinction. But it's rare a person should need to make reference to someone's divorce.

Single mom is good enough.

4 moms found this helpful

Were I one of those women, I would not want to be reminded that I am divorced ... there is still a stigma with that and possible hurt so I would probably go with Single. In addition, I am a mother who is not married to the father of her child, but has all the perks of one who is married and technically I am a "single mother" are you going to scrutinize that?

4 moms found this helpful

To me, the term "single mom" means, no contact, support (financially or physically), and no help from the other sides family members. You are not single if your childrens other parent cares for them, helps support them, etc.

3 moms found this helpful

Single means "not married now" or "never married", divorced means "was married but not married now"", widowed means "was married but due to death of spouse not married now". Using any one of these terms does indicate that the person is not married...using divorced or widowed is just more precise!

A single mom (as in your eyes...never been married) could possibly be recieving the same type of support that a divorced mom receives. Having not ever been married does not mean the dad is not supportive in some way.

3 moms found this helpful

Ummm...judging by the treatment I received immediately following my divorce, I would call myself an "invisible mom" lol...it was like I had a scarlet letter tattooed on my forehead. This was not in the town I currently live in, by the way.

I will try to say this as gently as possible: I find it curious that you take so much interest in how these moms refer to themselves. Might I suggest that the gracious thing to do when someone who has suffered through the end of their marriage chooses the adjective "single" over "divorced" is to use the same term when describing their status? Unless of course you are comfortable subjecting your friends, repeatedly, to the reference of their past marriage simply because they are entitled--legally--to spousal or child support.

3 moms found this helpful

I am divorced (7 years now) with two kids. I HATE the word divorce. I never thought it would happen to me and it bothers me to tell people I am. Maybe it bothers these women. Divorce is horrible. I find it funny that you would write it off as no big deal, or that it's easier for them because get support from the dad, or that you don't see divorce as a failed marriage. You are SO wrong about that. It was my BIGGEST failure in life. It hurts even to think about it now -- 7 years later. You equate it to quitting a job. That's insane, and hurtful.

I try not to label myself, and don't find many instances where I have to say what I am (divorced mom) but I usually just say I'm not married.

I really think it's their personal decision what to call themselves. Either way is true really. So what does it matter?

3 moms found this helpful

Well, did the widowed mom get a life insurance policy or collect social security from her child's deceased father? Do they live in a house that is paid for by the dad when he was alive?.... because under your definition she would then be getting "support" from the dad and she would not classify as a single mom.

I would say that we all have different definitions and for the most part I just say that I am my daughter's mom.
I would say a single mom or dad is a parent who, for the most part, does the BULK of the child rearing. If someone splits child rearing and both parents are actively engaged in the child's life then I would probably think of that situation as "co-parents", I guess. but I don't even know that I care enough about someone else's situation to try and label them.... unless they are throwing it in my face for some reason.

I think my marital status and my parental status are actually 2 different things.

I am single.... because I am not married or living with a partner.

I am divorced because I have previously been married.

I am a single mom because although I do get a small (reduced as part of our decree for a myriad of reasons) amount of child support I have FULL SOLE custody of my daughter. I am the ONLY one who makes decisions about her care and about things that affect her. I am the ONLY one who takes care of her if she is sick or makes sure her homework gets done or makes sure she is healthy and happy.

If the couple hundred bucks he tosses at me is considered "support and help" from you and therefore disqualifies me to fit into your designation of a "single mom" label then so be it.

3 moms found this helpful

not sure how you have come up with your reasoning. Single would imply the never married but not the parental involvement. I know plenty of divorced women who raise their kids alone, and plenty of women that never married that have great relationships with the father of their child. And either way these women qualify to receive child support.

3 moms found this helpful

I'm a single, divorced, co-parent and I don't really mind the question because I've wondered about that too. What the heck to I call myself. None of the above seem to fit I think about my role so I may need to create a name for my status.

Added: just read your update and completely agree. I have it so good, with so much support. There is no way I think of myself as the quintessential single mom. Referring to myself as 'divorced' mom seems odd because I don't think of myself in relationship to my ex so that just seems to dredge him up... So, maybe just mom: )

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They are single moms. They might get child support and maybe the kids go visit dad .... but they are single moms. And why does it really matter? So if I'm divorced and my daughter sees her dad but he doesn't pay child support do I not classify as a single mom because of that? I guess I'm confused. Divorced, never married, widowed, child support, no child support, visits dad or not, all equals single mom to me.

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I don't really thing there is a right or wrong answer to this question. A mom could also be divorced and the dad is not in the picture. Would they then still be a divorced mom or a single mom? Then what would you call a single mom that was never married but the dad is in the picture. I think its kind of silly to put a label on what kind of mom a mom is

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It depends on how she wants to identify. My mom was a single mom. She was single (via divorce). When she remarried she was no longer a single mom. DH described himself both as a single dad and a divorced dad or a single dad that was divorced. Depended on the situation. Mostly single dad, though.

I think that if you spend a portion of your life raising children without a spouse or partner, you are a single parent, regardless of how you got there. "Widow" is more descriptive of that friend's situation. My aunt said she was a widow, to avoid having people ask where her ex was. It also expresses that there was a different kind of loss.

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I know Dad's who have joint custody and pay support who do mind that their ex refers to themselves as a single mom as if the Dad does nothing. That's the only reason I wondered the same question.

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I think technically its 2 different things. I am divorced, and I was single for awhile before I remarried, however, during that entire time, I was always a MOM and always will be. To me, my mom is a true "single mom"...she never married my dad nor anyone else. Personally, I would rather be known as "divorced" as opposed to having kids out of wedlock (single), its just not my belief and I feel strongly about that. So with my thinking, I guess I would have to call myself "remarried mom" since that's what I am. Just my thoughts.

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I'd say that if you're not married or in an exclusive relationship, you're single. If you're female and have children, you're a mom. So, regardless of whether you've ever *been* married, if you're currently not married, but have kids, you're a "single mom". Seems pretty straightforward to me.

I've never heard of anyone being described as a "divorced mom" - didn't even realize that was a term. Would they still be a "divorced mom" 30 years after their divorce? At what point does the "divorced" go away as a label? If they get married again, do they become a "re-married mom"? Seems a bit complicated.

I don't think the term "single mom" necessarily indicates any level of hardship they're going through. It's simply a label for what they technically are. Some single moms have it made financially with great child support and alimony and some single moms struggle to make ends meet and raise their kids - they're all still "single moms". It's the same with the term "working mom". I know a "working mom" who works because if she didn't the family would really struggle. I also know "working moms" who work because they want to, love their careers and feel fulfilled even though their husbands are bringing home six figures and they've got another 7 figures in the bank. They're lives are obviously very different, but they're all still "working moms". It's just a label - it has no "level of hardship" attached to it.

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They are single parents.
This includes divorced, widowed and Mom's who had kid(s) and never married.
If you are married, you are still single whether you are dating or not.
(There are plenty of married Moms who get no help from Hubby with the kids but they are not single parents.)
Some would say the divorced and widowed Moms had kids who were not illegitimate but people don't pay much attention to that anymore.

1 mom found this helpful

I like Riley's response.

Are unwed mothers really "insulted" to be "lumped in" with divorced mothers? Why would they be? To use your (strange) analogy, is it insulting for someone who has never had a job to be "lumped in" with someone who once had one but lost it or left? Aren't they all considered "unemployed"?

I am just a mom. I do not use my marital status as a modifier to my status as a parent.

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I agree with you. She is a divorced mom.

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I consider myself a divorced mom because I was previously married to my daughter's father. I think a woman can be a single mom and still have the father around. I don't consider myself damaged goods and I have done an amazing job parenting together with my ex-husband.

1 mom found this helpful

I see what you mean but I think either way is fine. When I think about the mom I know best who is now divorced, I may describe her as a single mom even though she has help from her ex. I think it's bc she's alone a lot... And bottom line, she's single now.

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I call myself a mom. just like married moms do.

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I agree with you (and so does Dr. Laura, back in her day). But I also believe that it's just the way of the world to use the term "single mom" universally to describe a mom without a husband. Contrariwise, I've also never heard somebody refer to themselves as a "married mom". Funny. Use your words when you want to, but don't make a big deal about what they do.

I'm sorry you've received responses that give you answers to questions you didn't ask. Welcome to Mamapedia!

1 mom found this helpful

They can call themselves whatever they want. The term "single mom" isn't about being a "sole parent." Single moms who have never been married might be in a supportive relationship, or have an equal parenting relationship with the dad who they never married/not in relationship with or may be executives making $150K a year and opted to have a kid without being married. They term "single mom" isnt' meant to garner sympathy for your poor financial situation. I don't think the word "divorcee" has been used for several decades! I do not agree that widows are "single moms." I have a friend who was widowed and she is angry if someone refers to her as a single mom - something that she did not choose to be, in her words. She is a widow. You don't get to choose who is and who is not a single mom. There are plenty of divorced women who have no ex in the picture, who did not ask to be single and who are struggling. The term "single mom" was not invented to describe women who are struggling financially without a man.
They can call themselves what they like. This is not misleading, unlike my husband's aunt, who started referring to herself as a widow when her ex-husband died!

Conventionally, they are considered single parents and I think a lot of people would rather be referred to as single rather than divorced (but there is stigma either way...you got a divorce so you failed, you got pregnant out of wedlock so you are trashy, etc.). To me a single parent is a parent who is raising a child without any involvement from the other parent whether that be by choice or circumstance. I don't think in terms of are they personally single but are they singularly raising the child. So your widowed friend, to me, would be a single parent. My divorced SIL who has shared custody with her childrens' father is not a single parent...she is co-parenting. My cousin's former fiance who is raising their child without any involvement from him was a single parent but has since married (and her husband is helping her to raise her son) so now I would not consider her as such. In my opinion, it is just a generically descriptive label that some people use.

I think it can go either way, i think most people use single mom, single dad, as to divorced mom/dad, because it doesnt sound liked they failed. Basically they are a single parent household so yes they are a single parent. I dont believe in the titles a mom is mom no matter what her relationship status it.

I would say single mom. If your not married (or dating anyone) then your single.

I would call someone in that position a potential friend.

How about just a mom? Who cares how they got there?

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