24 things single parents want you to know in 2024

If a superhero is a fictional character with extraordinary or superhuman powers, then single parents are real-life superheroes.

No, they don’t wear masks or have X-ray vision (unless they work in radiology). They probably can’t teleport you across space and time or even scale a building. And they easily blend into a crowd (unlike the Incredible Hulk).

So, what is so heroic about single parents? They have one of the hardest jobs in the world (aka parenting), and they do it alone.

National Single Parents Day was first declared by President Ronald Reagan in 1984. (iStock)

March 21 is National Single Parents Day – a day signed and declared by President Ronald Reagan in 1984. It’s a day to celebrate and recognize those who have the daunting responsibility of raising their kids without the support of a spouse or partner.

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In honor of these superheroes, our team atSolo Parent, a nonprofit organization created by single parents for single parents, gathered a list of 24 things we want non-single parents to know in 2024 (and beyond):

Encourage us (please!)Raising kids alone is really hard and encouragement goes a long way. We like being told we’re doing a good job and need you to recognize and honor what we’ve been doing.

We’re not always sad and strugglingThere are so many stereotypes about single parents, and they’re not all (or always) true. Hollywood often depicts single parents as frazzled, sad, struggling and usually down-on-their-luck. And that may be true, but let’s be real: everyparent experiences this at some point.

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We need your help but won’t always askSingle parents often feel the need to soldier on and single-handedly bear their load. We don’t want to seem needy – and maybe there’s a little pride thrown in there too. But, we could really use a carpool partner or some help painting the kitchen. We probably won’t ask you for help, but that doesn’t mean we don’t need it.

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We feel seen when you offer to helpIt’s OK to not know how to help us, but don’t avoid offering entirely. We’d love for you to reach out. Sometimes it’s better to tell us what you can do or are going to do instead of asking what we need (“I’m going to mow your lawn this afternoon” or “Drop your kid off at my house; you need a break”). It gives us some much-needed mental relief.

Spouse away for the weekend? Please don’t call yourself a single parentWe know it can be playful and fun to try and relate to us in this way, but the truth is, it’s not the same. We don’t have someone coming back home in a few days. Single parenting is a reality for us every day.

It’s OK to show up with mealsShowing up with a meal is always a good idea, especially for single parents who are juggling so many different plates. The relief of not having to plan one more meal is huge, and it shows you’re thinking of us, which means a lot.

Showing up with a meal is always a good idea, especially for single parents who are juggling so many different plates. (iStock)

We need safe people willing to talk about what’s realYou don’t have to tiptoe around us when talking about divorce or death. We welcome the hard conversations and feel more cared for and seen when you’re willing to go there. And sometimes just listening goes a long way.

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Just because we’re single, doesn’t mean we want your spouseLet’s just state this one loud and clear: We want everyone to know… just because we’re single, it doesn’t mean we want your spouse. So please don’t avoid hanging out as a couple. If you’re uncomfortable, say something. The last thing we want to do is jeopardize our relationship with you and your family.

Encourage our kidsKids raised by single parents need encouragement too. Our kids don’t have two parents living together, speaking life into them, so the more intentional adults they have around, the better.

We want to be invited and includedAs single parents, we already feel different enough. Even if we can’t always make it or logistics are tricky, we still want to be invited. We want to feel like we belong. Sometimes people assume we’re too busy – and sometimes we are! But nobody likes to feel excluded.

Sometimes people assume we’re too busy – and sometimes we are! But nobody likes to feel excluded. (iStock)

We’re not as uncomfortable being a third wheel as you may thinkAre you ever planning a gathering and as you make your guest list, you realize it’s going to be all couples – and that one single friend? There’s a perception that since we’re solo, we won’t want to come to an event with other couples, or we’ll feel like a third wheel. Guess what? We want couples friends, too.

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Being single is not always a bad thingSingle parent life is hard but not bad – especially if you’ve been in a toxic relationship. There are worse things than being single – we may even enjoy our single status!

Even though we’re busy, you can still ask us for helpWe want to give back to our communities, and more importantly, we want to show our kids how to show up and give back. If we’re able, we would love to contribute, whether it’s teaming up for some yard work or volunteering in the community. Let us help!

Our kids still need a villageHaving a village of people or a community that helps raise our children is so important. They’re our lifeline. Our boys need healthy men in their lives, and our girls need strong women. However, you can show up and be a village for our kids, just know we welcome it!

Having a village of people or a community that helps raise our children is so important. (iStock)

We don’t hate everyone of the opposite sexWe are not male bashers or women haters. There are lots of negative perceptions around how some single parents feel based on their life experiences. As stated above, please don’t assume.

We’re not all in a rush to get remarried or be in a relationshipSure, some single parents want to get right back into a relationship, and many do. But that’s not true for all of us. Some of us never want to date again, believe it or not. Others of us just don’t know, but we’ll certainly let you know when we’re ready.

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Single parenting is hard regardless of our parenting planBeing a parent is hard. Single parenting is doubly hard. It doesn’t matter whether we have full custody, parent every other weekend, or something in between. Every situation comes with its own unique hardships.

Don’t overlook the single dadJust because a single parent doesn’t have full custodydoesn’t mean they don’t need encouragement. This is especially true for single dads because a majority of people think “single mom” when thinking about single parents. But, for every single mom, there’s a single dad – and if they’re involved in their child’s life, they are important and need encouragement just like anybody else.

Your empathy provides single parents with the comfort, compassion and understanding they need. (iStock)

Free babysitting from trusted sources goes a long wayNo explanation needed.

Emotional support mattersIt’s not always obvious, but at times we just really need someone to talk to. We want a listening ear. We don’t have anyone to vent to or unwind with when we get home from work.

We’re not looking for your sympathy or pityWe have been through a lot and are very strong as a result. We don’t want you to feel sorry for us, but we do want you to be with us. Your empathy provides us with the comfort, compassion, and understanding that we need.

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Flexibility is important because things can change on a dimeIf our kid gets sick at school, we often don’t have anyone to help by going to pick them up. We may need to move meetings, cancel plans, etc. Pro tip: If you have flexibility and can be an alternate pickup person for us, please offer!

There is a community for single parents out there. (iStock)

Praise us in front of our kidsIf you give a single parent a shoutout, please do it in front of their kids. We’ve all been kids before and know it can be hard to really “see” our parents and what they do right. If you praise me for something, it really reinforces my role as a parent to my kids.It could be: Congratulations on buying a house; I know you worked a lot of extra hours to do this!Or maybe: I noticed you helping out the coach at soccer practice. He really needed that support.Or even: Did you know that your mom is an excellent baker? We always enjoy her treats at the office.

There is a community for single parents out there!Thanks to technology, we’re able to quickly connect with others around the globe. Solo Parent helps join together single parents looking for a caring space to form safe and encouraging communities. Through weekly groups, a podcast, free resources, an annual conference and much more, single parents can rest assured: You don’t have to walk through this season alone. Encourage single parents you know to download our free Solo Parent app to access these resources and more!

Hopefully, after reading this list, you feel more equipped to reach out to the single parents in your life. If you’re a single parent, we want you to know that solo parent life is hard, but it can actually be one of the most rewarding and transformative seasons of your life. Remember, you’re doing a great job!

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM ROBERT BEESON

Robert Beeson was a single parent to his three young daughters and raised them by himself for eight years. He is the founder of Solo Parent, a nonprofit based in Franklin, Tennessee, devoted to helping solo parents thrive and the author of “Going Solo: Hope and Healing for the Single Mom or Dad.” He can be reached at [email protected].

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