Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO and the best-selling author of Lean In, made news last week with a Mother’s Day letter she posted on Facebook, in which the widowed mother of two children discussed what she’s learned in her first year as a single parent. “I will never experience and understand all of the challenges most single moms face, but I understand a lot more than I did a year ago,” she said in the letter. She used the letter to call out the particular challenges that women raising children solo face, including poverty and lack of social support.
One woman, however, had issues with the Facebook post. In the New York Post, single parent Anna Davies wrote, “Don’t give me your sympathy.” While agreeing with Sandberg’s sentiment that society isn’t always geared toward family life, Davies went on to say that she resents when single parents are treated like a “special interest group.” “I don’t feel sorry for myself,” she wrote. “By focusing attention on single parents, rather than focusing on the struggles felt by all parents, we minimize the need for real change for all families.”
Davies said that single parents face the same challenges of other parents: “All of us feel overwhelmed; all of us wish there were more hours in a day,” she wrote. “I don’t think being a single mom is any harder than being a mom in general. … And I think we all do each other a disservice when we presume to know what someone else’s life is like.” To her point, she acknowledges Sandberg’s own challenges, saying, “I can’t imagine the hardship of navigating single parenthood through grief.”
At the end of the day, Davies said what matters is whether you and your child have lives where both feel loved and supported. “Being single has made me work harder to create a community for my daughter,” she wrote. Marital status, she said, shouldn’t factor in at all.
Sandberg’s post has gotten more than 74,000 likes and has been widely shared and praised since it was posted.