An Open Letter To My Single Parent Sistahs: Be An Example To Your Child

November 15, 2012  |  


Dear Single Sistahs,

I am writing this letter to all of you who are singly mothers by choice, by force, by divorce, or by other circumstances. I am writing this letter to all of my Single Parent Sistahs to encourage you to be the best mother and parent you can be to your child or children. I’m writing this letter to encourage you to be your child’s parent, particularly be your child’s mother because as the first woman in your child’s life, you set the tone for how he, she or they will view, treat and react towards women. You set the tone for how your child will view women because you are the first example of a woman he/she will see and know.

For my Single Parent Sistahs who are mothers of daughters, you set the tone for the way your daughter will dress, the way she will speak, the way she will carry herself, the way she will maintain a household, and especially the way she will conduct herself in relationships with men. Not only do you set the tone for the way she will speak, dress, conduct herself, and maintain a household but you set the tone in the way your daughter will view herself as a woman as the first woman in her life. For my Single Parent Sistahs who are mothers of sons, you set the tone for the type of woman your son will bring home to you, the way your son will view women, the way your son will treat a woman, and the way he will conduct himself while in the presence of a woman. Not only do you set the tone for the way your son will view, treat and conduct himself in the midst of a woman, but you set the example of what a woman should be or should not be.

My Single Parent Sistahs, it is so important that we are positive role models for our children. I know many of you may be saying that you didn’t have that example of how to be a positive mother because your mother was not a positive example, but the truth of the matter is, whether or not your mother was the example you thought she should have been she was still an example.

My Single Parent Sistahs, I also encourage you to be a single mother who is not desperately searching for a father to help you raise your child. While I do agree that a man’s presence in the household is extremely valuable to a child’s well being, I don’t agree with the way many unmarried mother forget about the fact that they have a child to raise and have the tendency to focus more on having a man around rather than focusing on raising their child. Focus on being a good mother to your child, then a man of quality will take notice of your sincere actions with your child and admire you for being a good mother and the rest will follow.

Lastly my Single Parent Sistahs, I encourage you to see the beauty that is your child. Learn how to spend quality time with your child and enjoy it. Talk to your child daily (no matter how young or old they are) and not just when they’ve done something good or bad…just talk to them to see how their day went. Set some time aside daily to bond with your child, and see the blessing that they are, and if you don’t think your child/children are blessings from God just ask a woman who wants to have children but can’t. I know at times this journey can get very tiresome, trying and discouraging, but I urge you to hang in there. Not only do I urge you to hang in there for your child, but I also urge you to find balance in being a parent and also being you. This is something I often struggled with as a single mother. I would feel guilty for going out (not all night) while my child would be home with a sitter, but I soon learned that it was okay for me to go out and enjoy myself with friends. Finding that balance and taking time for myself made me love and appreciate being a mother more than ever. Why? Because when I was out, I knew I had a beautiful child to return home to, whether I had a good time or not. I also learned that I need  time for myself to be a better me and to be the best mother I can be to my son. So as I close this letter to all of my Single Parent Sistahs, I wish you and your child/children the best on your journey in life. Remember, kids are a gift from God, and we should cherish every moment we have with them… no matter what.

Sincerely, Your Single Sistah,


Liz Lampkin is the Author of Are You a Reflection of the Man You Pray For? Follow her on Twitter @Liz_Lampkin.

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  • Lydia Paul

    You’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t. But if you really want to look at the effects of “bad” single-parent home then also look at the effects of “bad” two-parent home. It’s sad that we all rather criticize than say something nice. I think there are benefits of a good single-parent home. I honestly think the children are more independent and more determined something that is absorbed and learned from a good single-parent home. I also believe that children from a good two-parent home are more dependable and more affectionate; again something that is absorbed and learned within a two-parent home. But at the end of the day, I don’t think the amount of parents a child has matters to the good values and morals being taught in good parent home.
    Also take into account a lot of single mothers, which y’all are referring to, are bitter and angry and resentful. You can’t raise a child with bitterness, anger, and resentment. Thats just continuing the cycle. Yes it may be their own fault but instead of criticizing, we can encourage single-parents to forgive or find a sense of peace and move on; not just for the child but for their own sanity.
    I am a single-parent and I have no excuse or justification on my childs father. I have no good or bad story to share. This is my life I am her mother, I am a single parent and yes by choice because frankly I had options. We all have option. Keeping your child is not manditory, it is a choice. And I choose to be her mother. I am her mother by choice.

  • lol


  • forevertheoptimist

    Biggest lesson: Life has no guarentees. I am a single parent of a four year old little girl by choice. I come from a loving, tight, two parent household (who ironically are going thru a divorce after all these years) 🙁 I have a master’s degree and I am not yet 30. Things b/w my daughter’s father and I are cordial but he lives far away and has only seen her a handful of times. We parted ways after 5 years together right before her birth. She has come to know and love the man I’ve been seeing for the last couple of years. I didn’t take offense to the article but my situation is NOT ideal and being a “good” mom is hard–no matter the situation. As a single parent, I think the fears and doubts we have as a parent are magnified. At the end of the day, no matter where we come from and what our history may be, we all just have to find comfort knowing we’re doing the best we can and just brush off statements that don’t even pertain to us.

    • Gye Nyame

      Is that the best excuse we have? “Life has no guarantees”…there’s no “guarantee” that when you cross the street you won’t get hit by a truck, but we teach our children to wait for the traffic light to say walk before they cross the street. When you finished your master’s degree, there was no “guarantee” you would get a job…but I’m sure that you would never encourage your child not to go to college would you? Let’s stop acting like deciding to give life to another human being is like buying a pair of shoes, its the most important decision a woman can ever make, and it should be made with careful consideration.

      • victoria

        Great comment

      • forevertheoptimist

        I can’t even refute this. That is exactly how it should be. However, as I’m sure you are aware of as well, life unfortunately doesn’t run as perfectly as we would like. Even for people who do plan for their child and the relationship/marriage still doesn’t work out. We do the best we can. But I will still be teaching my daughter the “ideal” way she should do things regardless.

  • Gye Nyame

    BTW we are the only race that goes out of its way to constantly celebrate single mothers, and that’s why our daughters don’t aspire to be someone’s wife BEFORE having their child. Women that take their time, get to know a man, get married, buy a home, and THEN HAVE A CHILD, gets NO LOVE in our culture! There’s no celebration for the woman that does it “right”, so no wonder so many of us are baby mamas…that’s all we celebrate!

    • Nenah

      I don’t see single motherhood being celebrated, but the author included divorced women. You don’t always know the backstory of woman when you see her with her kids. My aunt had 3 kids, got divorced, and found a wonderful man to marry her and take care of her kids. This was back in the day so being a single mother was more of a stigma. The first husband didn’t deal with his kids and we found out about 20 years later when my cousins were grown that my step uncle had been beating the mess out of my auntie. I wish she had had the courage to leave him.

      • lol

        but with over 75 % of all black kids being born oow the ones that got divorced are in the very small minority don’t you think?

      • Gye Nyame

        I’m not talking about divorced single mothers, 70% of our children are born OUT OF WEDLOCK, meaning the mother and father were NEVER married. But I will say this, women need to pay attention to who they marry. Most women that get divorced knew the type of man they were marrying. That’s why I said we need to WAIT until we are in loving, healthy, functional relationships before we have someone’s child.

  • Gye Nyame

    I know I will be hated for this, but oh well. Single mothers tend to get SO defensive when people point out the obvious, which is while a SMALL percentage of you are doing things “right” MANY of you are not. It usually starts with the terrible choice many made when it came to the father of their child, but god forbid anyone points this out and the single mother “mob” goes off! I know many of you think you’re doing a good job, but I teach many children from single parent homes and what many of you are saying and the REALITY of what I see on a day to day basis does not add up. Facts are facts, and the facts are not on your side. It’s like the band that continued to play as the Titanic was sinking. Instead of getting mad at the author, many of you should be explaining to your children that while they are NOT mistakes and you love them dearly, you want them to make BETTER choices when they decide to have a family, which includes a loving, healthy, functional relationship preferably between two married people. Stop living in denial… it is DESTROYING the black race.

    • victoria

      My mother was a single parent and she bombarded us with the importance of making ”BETTER choices when you decide to have a family, which includes a loving, healthy, functional relationship preferably between two married people.” She was offen stressed due to financial reasons and couldnt attend school functions. But at the same time she made certain we performed well in school. She took us on vacations and provided a clean home. But the stress and constant boyfriends, along with her talks about wanting us (her daughters) to ger married made me want to marry then have children. Both my sister and I married wonderful men who are loving, have great jobs, great providers, no baby daddies. And we both waited to have children after marriage. I think our future generations deserve both parents in the home.

      • Gye Nyame

        I am glad to hear that you are living a blessed life and didn’t become a statistic. What your mom did was a selfless act instilling you and your sister with those values b/c it takes a certain level of vulnerability to explain to your child that as the parent you didn’t always make the best choices and that you want your child to do better than you did. Even though I was married when I had children I made mistakes as a young adult that I never want my children to make, so I will also have that candid talk with my children someday and hopefully compel them to do better than I did.

  • Nenah

    Great message! I just read it as be a great single mom. So many people look down on single mothers and make them feel like they are less than. If you’re a single mother do it well! I was talking to a friend who is divorced with 3 kids. Her ex was abusive and does not deal with his kids at all. She was complaining talking about she needs a husband. I was like you can’t raise your own kids? She was like children need a 2 parent home. No, they need a healthy home. So I feel this article.

  • Nope

    Nice article. If it doesn’t apply to you, then you shouldn’t be offended. A lot of parents, both fathers and mothers, aren’t doing their job. Men usually get the bulk of the blame for all of these bad @ss kids running around these days, but these Black kids are being primarily raised by women. Little Black boys and little Black girls aren’t learning how to be disrespectful or disrespected by the daddies they don’t even know, no it’s mostly from the parent that are actually exposed to.

    Also just because a child lives with their mother doesn’t make her a great or commendable parent either. She basically just got custody upon the child’s birth.

    • Live_in_LDN

      ‘If it doesn’t apply to you, then you shouldn’t be offended’ – This is code for ‘i’m going to spread a lot of venomous bile on the internet but I do have not enough backbone to defend my judgemental, shallow opinions when they are critiqued head on so i’m going to take the cowards way out and shame anyone who disagrees with my opinion as being part of the problem’

  • JaneDoe

    Setting a good example for yor child is a must whether you are a single parent or not… The title of this letter singles out single parents and thats why there might be backlash.

  • Laine

    I think that, apart of the paragraph about finding a man, this article is an open letter to ALL parents, both single and non- single. Every parent is and should be an example to their child. Thanks for the reminder though, and I know you have good intentions Miss Liz.

  • If you doing what a mother is supposed to be doing, you will not be offended by this article.

    • I’m doing what I am suppose to as a mother and I was still offended. I’m sick of everyone assuming that single parents are out chasing men, partying or throwing pity parties and unable to love their child. Ms. Farrow, had a point when she stated that the single mother’s that are doing right are the one’s reading this article, not the ones that need to take heed to the open letter.

      • Some of them are though. I know some terrible mothers who should have their tubes tied and burnt.

    • I have actually abhorred this statement: (My Single Parent Sistahs, it is so important
      that we are positive role models for our children. I know many of you may be
      saying that you didn’t have that example of how to be a positive mother because
      your mother was not a positive example). What kind of proclamation is
      this to assume your readers didn’t have any positive role models in their life,
      not even from their own mothers? I am disappointed
      in Ms. Lampkin decision to actually form these types of statements. You all the saying if it doesn’t apply let it
      fly…hypothetical speaking if this was an article posted on a different web-site,
      using the same type of wording, most women of color would find this offensive.
      Please think about that. Everyone have a bless day, you to Ms. Lampkin.

  • Dear Liz Lampkin,

    I know many of your readers may be saying, who is this person and what the hell is she talking about? I’ve been a single mom for 19 yrs and you come across in this letter as if single sisters are not doing there job some women may not, but the women that are doing a wonderful job as parents (single parents) trust me are the one that’s reading articles on madamenoire….. please stop acting like black women don’t know how to raise there children…. Sincerely A single Mother not by choice!

    • Mztisa

      Two snaps and a twist!

    • Sheena

      Thank you. I didn’t know whether to feel encouraged or offended.

    • Gye Nyame


    • victoria

      Questions that I would like a single mother to answer…
      Can you list the benefits from being raised in single parent homes?

      With the many problems that arise from being raised in single parent homes, why do people get offended when other say, ”Hey, this isnt working. Our kids need/ deserve more.”
      Kids from single mother homes – more likely to:

      exhibit behavioral problems
      Be overweight/obese
      drop out of school
      live in poverty
      become a teenage mother
      join a gang
      participate in criminal activity
      have a prison record
      use drugs
      suffer sexual abuse

      • Nenah

        She says “not by choice”. You don’t know the situation so you really should not be so quick to judge.
        And while you’re so quick to blame her, what about the father? Do you blame men for having kids out of wedlock? Spread it around, don’t just blame the mother.
        I beleive in marriage but I wouldn’t hang on to a marriage if it wasn’t working just because I didn’t want to be judge by people like you.

        • victoria

          with only 30% of our kids born into wedlock, I dont think divorce is a major factor for single parenthood. But like always when I pose that question no one answers. They just deflect it on the father. When the child of a single mother does well in life the mother takes credit. When the child does bad, it’s the absent father’s fault. So Nenah can you answer my questions?

        • Gye Nyame

          Women have TOTAL CONTROL over WHO the father of their children are! I am so SICK of women lamenting over the deadbeat dad THEY CHOSE! Unless a woman is forced to have sex against her will and carry a baby to term, I wish women would shut up with that mess. Birth control is out there for a reason…have sex with whom ever you want but be responsible and protect yourself and don’t bring a child into the world under just any circumstance. Our KIDS DESERVE BETTER!

      • Before you pass anymore judgment allow me to share my story on how I become a single parent not by choice: I’ve became pregnant by the love of my life, I was very excited and apprehensive. I moved out my parents home ignored my parent(s) stress parents, not one but both my parents, and moved in with my husband to be. My preparation was to go to college in the day; while my love worked at night. We were infantile and very much in love; however, nothing would prepare me how things quickly unfolded in the course of 24hrs.

        You know the old saying if you want to make God laugh tell him your plans. In the 9th month of my pregnancy an unanticipated event occurred. The love of my life was taken away from me. Nothing in this world would have prepared me for such a bewildered, exasperating time.

        Nevertheless, I was, and still is a tough cookie, that occurrence set the tone for the rest of my life. My love was killed on September 9th; my son was born 21 days later. How I made it I still don’t know? Only strength, courage mixed with lots of crying and praying pulled me threw. I still cry only it’s no longer for me, but for my child. I always clarify to him I can educate you on everything you need to know, but I cannot teach you how to become a man. Thank the heavens he has sufficient brilliant male role models in his life. Let me boast about my son for just a minute if I can ladies, my son and I have a superb relationship we go everywhere together, we constantly have even at 19 yrs old. Even when I worked a full-time job, a part-time job and went to school full-time.

        We still spent time together; our core ethics are team work! Nothing gets done in the home, or external of the home without team work! He’s only 19; however, he has been employed since the age of 16. He is very well respected by his peers, co-workers and even his clientele. DO YOU KNOW HOW GOOD IT FEELS WHEN YOU HAVE STRANGERS APPROACH YOU AND INFORM YOU HOW RESPECTFUL, HELPFUL AND WONDERFUL, YOUR CHILD IS? IT FEELS GREAT! IT MAKES MY HEART DANCE! FYI-before you judge and say, most children or robbing, stealing, gangbangers, etc. Please give pleasure to understanding most single parent household children are not gangbanging killers! God bless all the single parents my Brothers & Sisters that are making a way out of no way and giving their all to children which by the way are committed to the task of being a single parent, even the ones that aren’t trust me with god’s plan they will find their way, I know I did.

        • victoria

          Keema, I am sorry for your loss. Most importantly,I am sorry that your son will never know his father. But with all do respect, your story is quite isolated. And your story still doesnt take away from the issues that children from single parent homes are more likely to face.

          Can you honestly say that children in our community (assuming you are black) are better off, or in any case, in fair condition as those from hard working, stable 2 parent homes?

          And I have to mention, I do not subscribe to the ”Dont judge me!” rant that seems to be the phrase of the day lately. It not about judging, it’s about telling people to look at our community and make changes. For me, I found it asinine that many women are so willing to defend single motherhood as if it’s not negatively affecting our children. Also, please dont input the word MOST when referring to my comment. I did not state,”most single mothers are…” or ”most kids from single mother homes are…” I stated many. And what I stated was the truth.

          Keema, are you denying that too many of our kids are suffering because of the overwhelming number of fatherless homes in the black community? Is this not true?

          Again, Im sorry for you loss, but that doesnt negate the problems that surround single parent homes.

          Oh, and as of yet, no one has stated how kids benefit from single parent home.