Grown-Up Reads

8 Nonfiction Books About Single Parenthood

by Denise Schipani

Some mothers and fathers seek out single parenthood, others arrive by circumstance, including widowhood and divorce. But no matter how you get there, being in a single-parent situation comes with its own set of challenges: to your parenting skills, to your finances, to your career, to your friendships, to your love life. We gathered up some reading material to suit single moms and dads at different points in their journey, to answer different needs and questions, to enlighten, and — perhaps most important — make “single” feel less “alone.”

  • Dream New Dreams: Reimagining My Life After Loss

    by Jai Pausch

    Pausch was in a unique position as a widow. Her late husband, Randy Pausch, had written the wildly bestselling memoir The Last Lecture as he suffered from pancreatic cancer. This fame means she started out what is often a deeply personal journey — a new life as a widow and single parent — having already been in the spotlight. Her husband had called her selfless, a giver, someone who often forgets about her own needs, which is common to spouses as they see a partner through illness and death. But in the aftermath, Pausch had to figure out a way not just to make it on her own, raise her children, work, and run a household. She had to relocate the spark that was herself. Pausch’s memoir details that journey with honesty and integrity.

  • An Excellent Choice: Panic and Joy on My Solo Path to Motherhood

    by Emma Brockes

    In this memoir, British writer Brockes details her journey to becoming pregnant within a bewildering-to-her American healthcare system. While her situation as a lesbian seeking sperm isn’t universal, the life-changing choice of solo parenting will strike a chord with any woman who’s faced pregnancy and birth — not to mention parenting — alone. (It’s also hilarious!)

  • Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year

    by Anne Lamott

    Lamott’s now-classic memoir of lurching into motherhood as a complete and utter newbie with her son, Sam, is one of the best books a seasoned mom can give to any mother-to-be in her life. But the whole rollickingly hilarious and — in trademark Lamott style — both profane and spiritual story is even more poignant a read for moms parenting solo. Lamott is unsparing about the nitty gritty of pregnancy and birth, and is bracingly honest about her failures and foibles. And she manages to teach a few lessons about love, forgiveness, and accidental family along the way.

  • The Kickass Single Mom: Be Financially Independent, Discover Your Sexiest Self, and Raise Fabulous, Happy Children

    by Emma Johnson

    When her marriage ended, Johnson had a toddler and an infant and worked as a freelance journalist. This book, like her long-running blog, Wealthy Single Mommy, speaks directly to single mothers who may doubt their ability to not just survive, but thrive: in their careers, as parents, as romantic partners. Johnson encourages women raising kids on their own to first battle the naysayers in their own heads before taking on the world and building a satisfying, successful life on their own terms – oh, and raising children who are equipped to thrive, too.

  • The Single Dad’s Survival Guide: How to Succeed as a One-Man Parenting Team

    by Michael A. Klumpp

    Klumpp uses his personal experience as a single dad and pastor to pen this honest and practical guide for men facing the unique challenges of solo parenting. Topics include everything from managing your family’s schedule and creating a grocery-staples list that you can rely on to discovering new ways to support your children emotionally. This one’s a must-have for those in search of a faith-based how-to guide — with a touch of true-to-life humor.

  • Rattled! A Memoir

    by Christine Coppa

    In her 20s, in New York City, in a media job she loves, and in a relationship with a cute guy (read: not necessarily Mr. Right), Coppa wedges herself in her apartment’s bathroom, pees on a pregnancy test and … her life changes forever. This is the story not just of raising a child more or less solo, it’s about hacking a new path in uncharted territory when you thought you had your life all worked out. The single life becomes single motherhood, the urban is traded for the suburban, and Coppa and her son, Jack Domenic, go it alone with grace and humor.

  • The Everything Guide to Personal Finance for Single Mothers

    by Susan Reynolds and Robert Bexton, CFA

    Smart money moves are key for mothers raising a child or children alone. It’s not just about surviving the now, such as in the immediate aftermath or divorce or widowhood, but planning for the far-from-now: college, retirement, and more. Like all Everything guides, this is info-packed, informative, and encouraging, with the goal of giving single moms the tools to make smart money choices, get out of debt, plot future successes, and raise money-wise kids.

  • Ma Speaks Up: And a First-Generation Daughter Talks Back

    by Marianne Leone

    Leone’s memoir comes at single motherhood from the other side: that of the child. In Leone’s case, the “Ma” of her title is a semi-literate Italian immigrant who escaped poverty and a potential forced marriage to come to America and, eventually, marry an Italian American man. When she’s suddenly widowed, with three young children, she has to remake her life yet again. Leone tells her tale as the daughter of a woman who held it all together — even if that meant doing totally embarrassing things like becoming the school lunch lady.

What books would you recommend as helpful reads for single parents? Let us know in the comments below!