Single Parent’s Perspective: Back-handed Compliments

My mother is one of my fiercest referees when it comes to parenting. Last night, after discussing how I am navigating a contentious co-parenting relationship with the ex, she delivered a seriously back-handed compliment (of which, I’m sure she is oblivious):

“You’re doing the best you can with what you have.”

I’m sure she saw it as a show of support. I was thinking, “The best I can? That smells of ‘I could be doing better.'”

Some other examples of back-handed admiration or I’m-glad-not-to-be-in-your-position-isms:

“As long as the child’s father is involved…”

“Look on the bright side. At least you get every other weekend off!”

“I don’t know how you do it without help.”

“You’re only one person…”

“Well, living for your child is the only thing that matters.”

“You’re doing such a great job!” or “You’re so good with him!” (from my ex-mother-in-law).

“She has a strong support system.” (my defensive mother said to her friend).

“Wow, you’re totally a supermom. How do you find time to shit?” (a man I was talking to online after he found out I was a parent, career woman and student).

Does anyone have other examples of the dreaded back-handed compliment?

Backhanded Compliment(image source:


4 thoughts on “Single Parent’s Perspective: Back-handed Compliments

  1. married2arod says:

    I have an Asian mother, so they have no filter. One of my favs is: (in regards to weight gain) “oh you filled out, you must be happy.” ….because only skinny people are miserable? Because starving yourself is associated with being depressed? Hmmm maybe it’s just me lol.
    I found your link on OM’s blog

    Liked by 1 person

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