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3 No’s Single Moms Don’t Have to Apologize For

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“I’m really sorry, but I can’t…” I said those words one evening when a sweet couple knocked on my door and asked me to be part of our neighborhood board. I felt bad because I knew they needed new members, but wow, I was not in a place to attend meetings to discuss lawn maintenance and property taxes. Saying no without feeling guilty is tough for single moms, but only because we’re looking at “no” the wrong way.

We often apologize when we say no because we are more focused on who we are letting down than on what we are prioritizing. Instead of “I’m sorry,” what we should be saying is “I’m making the better choice for my family.” Here are 3 things single moms shouldn’t apologize for and the reason your “no” is good for your family.

Saying No to the Kids’ Requests

Every mother says no more times than she can count, but a single mom’s no often comes with an inner berating that says, “If you weren’t on your own, you could buy them this now instead of waiting.” Or “If you didn’t have to work, you could chaperone the field trip and be the fun mom for once.”

Here’s the thing—no kid has ever been ruined because a parent said no. Too many yeses is another story. Your kids might be disappointed that they have to wait for that new pair of shoes, but your discipline and hard work are modeling behavior that will serve them well. Saying no without feeling guilty is possible when you think of what your kids are gaining. Hearing no now and again teaches kids patience, perseverance, and work ethic.

Saying No to That Committee

Who else has said yes to a request to volunteer and then immediately regretted it? My problem is that I forget that saying no doesn’t make me a bad person. Other people can step up to help, and, wait for it—do a better job than me! When I say no, I feel terrible that I’m letting people down who need my help.

But that no is good for your family if it means you are less frazzled and more present for your kids. It’s a win if it means you have time to make a healthy meal and sit at the table for dinner. There’s no need to apologize if it leads to having time to do something that refuels your spirit.

Saying No to the Boss

If your boss asked you to take on extra work that would require overtime or working in the evening with the promise that it would lead to a raise or a promotion, saying no would be crazy, right? After all, everyone knows most single moms need help making ends meet.

If you’re the only paycheck coming into the house, or if child support from your ex-husband is unreliable, then an opportunity to make more money can feel like a blessing you can’t afford to turn down. But if you’re already getting by and the new position would take you away from your kids or pile on too much stress, don’t feel bad for saying no. Money isn’t everything. Your kids don’t see your paycheck—they see you.

Do you have trouble saying no without feeling guilty? How might saying no actually be good for your family?


When could “no” be a good answer?

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