Should solo moms celebrate Father's Day? These parents weigh in on the social media debate

It happens every year on Father’s Day.

Mothers raising children on their own post on social media to celebrate themselves and other single moms, drawing criticism from others who feel they should leave the holiday alone.

“Single moms… Please don’t do THAT,” wrote one X user on June 9. “You know exactly what I’m talking about as well.”

Others are more direct with their critiques.

“Please let the fathers have this day,” wrote another X user.

'We don't have to have this tunnel vision'

Melody Alderman is a single mother to a 17-year-old son who has never met his father.

The 47-year-old is a writer and also works in web management. She lives in Spokane, Washington and has been very vocal online about celebrating herself and other moms on Father’s Day who are making things happen on their own.

“His co-creator is in Ireland,” she said. “We met and fell in love and my son was a happy surprise.”

The decision her son’s father made not to be involved doesn’t stop her from doing something special on both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, she said. Back when her son was younger, things were more difficult for him due to special Father’s Day events.

Alderman said it saddens her that people feel the need to tear each other down rather than recognizing everyone when moms post on Father's Day.

“We don't have to have this tunnel vision of an idea of what Father's Day represents,” she said. “Things evolve. Times change. We’re not in the 50s, when there were two parent households with one income.”

Why this solo mom recognizes mothers on Father’s Day

Alderman considers herself a solo mom. She said single moms are coparenting and there’s a dad in the picture, whereas solo moms have no father or other parent to rely on at all. That's just how she views it, she said.

When her thoughts are shared on larger platforms, the vitriol amps up, she said. Such was the case when her experience was shared on Good Morning America.

“The hate that I saw online was just shocking,” she said. “I had to stop reading the comments.” … 90% of them were like ‘Now, solo moms want to be special. They're going to take over Father's Day and they think that they're more important.’”

Some people think she hates men, but that’s not the case, she said.

“It's difficult raising a child on your own and it just feels like there's this expectation around mothers, that this is just what we do,” she said. “You’re a mother. You're expected to raise your child and be there for your child, whereas men, it seems like they have the option of opting out.”

She thinks both fathers and mothers who are doing it on their own need to be recognized.

Melody Alderman and her son, Ayden Lyric Nicholas.
Melody Alderman and her son, Ayden Lyric Nicholas.

She also recalled a friend who told her she was being treated differently from her husband while they dealt with their crying baby, an incident Alderman said spoke to a difference in expectations between moms and dads.

“When she would walk around with the baby, people were just giving her dirty looks, like ‘Shut that kid up,’ and when her husband would walk around with the baby, everybody was like ‘Oh, such a good dad. Look at him.’”

Society puts more pressure on mothers, she said, so single moms need recognition too. It doesn’t take away from fathers on Father’s Day either, she said.

‘Everyone can be recognized’

Alderman says she wishes “Happy Mother’s Day” to moms who are co-parenting, as well as solo moms or fathers who are doing it alone.

“It encompasses everyone,” she said. “It doesn’t have to encompass one single gender or one single idea of what being a mother is.”

Ayden Lyric Nicholas, son of writer Melody Alderman.
Ayden Lyric Nicholas, son of writer Melody Alderman.

She wants more people to have compassion for one another and know that the things they say behind a keyboard have real impacts on people.

“When you’re sitting behind your computer and you’re leaving some cruel response to a meme or to an article, there are people behind that,” she said. “There are children behind that. There are real human beings behind that screen.”

'Oppression starts to reveal itself' on Father's Day sometimes, dad says

Jeremy Givens is founder of the Arizona-based nonprofit Black American Dad Foundation, which helps dads have fun experiences and memories with their kids. They also help fathers navigate the family court system.

He has a 9-year-old son and a baby on the way, he told USA TODAY.

He’s somewhat familiar with single moms celebrating Father’s Day online and said he has seen an increase in posts like this over the past few years. When he sees the posts, he feels sorry for the women making them because they shouldn't have to raise their children alone.

"You didn’t make the baby alone," he said.

He added that posts celebrating moms on Father's Day are likely a symptom of societal views of fathers.

He started the Black American Dad Foundation to challenge these views because so often, people take what's said publicly about fathers as the ultimate truth. What people don't know is many fathers fight for their children behind the scenes, he said.

“We don’t look at primary source material," he said. "We have a primary source campaign because we're the primary source on that story. I don't mean to be dismissive to any mother’s claims or any child’s claims about how their dad is."

He said that for fathers, their narrative is not controlled by them.

“It's controlled by everybody else who has never been a Black father and doesn't know what it's actually like,” he said.

Some fathers want to be involved and support their children but they’re faced with obstacles such as the family court system not recognizing their concerns about what’s happening in their homes, he said. Some fathers are barred from seeing their children or actively being involved in their education, doctor's visits and more.

And some mothers keep their children from seeing their fathers if they haven’t provided a certain amount of financial backing, he continued.

“I can tell you several stories of dads that have done everything from sending care packages simply because they can't see their kids ... to standing on the front porch just to try to see if they can get a glimpse of their kids,” Givens said.

Society has long been male-dominated, and now people are speaking out against oppressive ideals, Givens said.

“It has created a ripple effect into other roles and demographics that men have traditionally carried, such as fatherhood,” he said. “Whenever things that come around that are celebratory or traditionally associated with fatherhood, the remnant of that pain and that suffering or that oppression starts to reveal itself.”

Last Father’s Day, he had on a t-shirt with “Black American Dad Foundation” written on it. A woman came up to him and asked what the organization was. He told the woman the nonprofit celebrates Black fathers.

“She was like ‘So you celebrate patriarchy?’” he recalled. “I thought that was really interesting, that she shaped it that way … We're celebrating the loving, caring, nurturing, providing, wisdom-instilling people that have chosen to uphold the integrity and the sacred sacredness of that role, which is Dad.”

‘It shouldn’t hurt anyone for someone to be celebrated’

Tara Taylor is founder of Single Mom Strong, a Sacramento County nonprofit that provides mothers with career advancement resources and childcare.

The program is made up of 1,300 single moms in a three-county region. There are also 120 children in the nonprofit’s preschool and childcare program.

She thinks people who celebrate moms on Father’s Day likely do it because they want to give credit where credit is due.

“We organizationally choose to celebrate both fathers who are present and active in their children's lives, as well as the mothers who are doing double duty,” said Taylor, who has a 26-year-old daughter. “The backlash, I think, is unnecessary … It shouldn't hurt anyone for someone to be celebrated. That confuses me.”

As a single mom herself, Taylor said it can be painful solo parenting. Wearing multiple hats takes a lot of work, so celebrating what you’ve been able to accomplish isn’t a bad thing in her opinion.

“No one is trying to take something from someone else,” she said, adding that Father’s Day celebrations for single moms are helpful because they recognize women who are determined, gritty, and know how to persevere.

“Giving them some grace for trying to find something to celebrate on a day that could be difficult, I think, is a much better perspective,” Taylor said.

Saleen Martin is a reporter on USA TODAY's NOW team. She is from Norfolk, Virginia – the 757. Follow her on Twitter at @SaleenMartin or email her at

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Single moms celebrating Father's Day: Parents weigh in on debate