- On TikTok, a community of single moms has formed as creators share advice and support.
- Some of the women say it helps them feel less alone, and has become like a “family” to them.
- Online popularity can come with pitfalls, but many single moms say it’s worth it for the positivity.
When Tiania Haneline posted a TikTok of her doing her daughter’s hair as the toddler repeated a series of self-love affirmations in June 2020, she thought it would just be a sweet clip to share with her handful of followers, she told Insider. Yet within a few days, the video had gained several million views, with commenters demanding to see more content featuring the single mom and then-three-year-old Scarlett.
Haneline got to work, posting more videos of her daughter as well as other tidbits from life as a parent of four (she has three kids of her own and took in her teenage son’s friend last year, she told Insider).
Before long, she’d amassed dozens of viral clips and millions of fans, including many fellow moms who often comment about how much they appreciated her sharing her experience of single parenthood. Today, she has 5.7 million followers, as well as a close-knit group of friends made through the app who are also raising children on their own.
Haneline is one of several single mothers who have gained prominence in the past few years for documenting their parenting experiences on TikTok, where the hashtag #singlemom has nearly 10 billion views, and others like #singlemomlife and #singlemomsofTikTok are not far behind with over 785 million and 670 million views respectively.
The content of these videos varies. TikToker Maia Knight, for example, who has over 8 million followers, is known for mundane, no-frills routines featuring her twin one-year-olds, while others like Haneline have running themes in their videos (like the affirmations) and more highly-produced content. But the women are bonded by their status as single moms, and their decisions to share the sweet, chaotic, and complicated realities of their lives with their followers, some told Insider.
Many single moms use TikTok to build a strong sense of community
Ashley Soto, a 31-year-old stay-at-home mom of three from Fort Worth, Texas, with 8.6 million followers, first went viral two years ago with a clip about her close relationship to her 14-year-old daughter. She began posting TikToks out of boredom, she told Insider. Now, though, she said she views the app not just as a creative outlet, but as an invaluable tool to connect with other single parents, especially those like herself who have recently split from their partners.
“With this separation and divorce, sitting alone in my apartment, it felt like I was the only one going through it,” Soto said. “But then you read comments and there are so many people dealing with the same thing or who have been through it and can give you advice and guidance.”
Dani Morin, who is 34 and based in Fontana, California, has a two-year-old son and 566,000 TikTok followers. She said that in addition to forming friendships with other single moms on TikTok, she also frequently provides encouragement and support to followers considering becoming single moms by choice, as she did.
Both in video comments and on group
calls they’ve organized as ways to keep in touch and catch up with each other outside of TikTok, these women come together to discuss everything from safety tips to sex lives, she said.
“Our content helps each other feel like, ‘OK, this is so normal,’ when sometimes we don’t feel normal,” Morin said.
Creators who share specific aspects of parenting can make others feel less alone, they said
Haneline told Insider the TikTok single-mom community is “literally like a little family that I have,” adding that some of her followers are raising biracial children like she is, and ask for advice on topics such as haircare; others provide tips for dealing with tantrums or recipes that Haneline gratefully accepts.
“The support that I have from so many people helps me be a better parent,” she told Insider.
Cassie Botnick, a 30-year-old writer and editor from New Jersey, has racked up 640,000 followers for videos depicting life with her two-year-old daughter, Luna, who has autism. Through the app, she’s befriended several other single moms of autistic children, who regularly rely on each other as a “support system,” she said.
The intimacy of TikTok videos, Botnick believes, allows single parents to connect easily to each other and feel less alone. “You can see somebody’s life and be like, oh wow, her house is just as messy as mine,” she told Insider.
Sharing their lives on TikTok comes with some pitfalls, but creators say it’s worth it
There are downsides to sharing details of single parenthood on TikTok. Kimberly Anne Ermitaño, a 29-year-old from San Francisco, California, largely gets positive reactions for her “Carseat Series” videos featuring the backseat ramblings of her three-year-old, Zoe. Yet with over 500,000 followers, it’s not unusual for some negativity to slip in too.
“We do get a lot of people that just adore Zoe, they love us, they love our content, and then there are people that really hate my parenting style,” she told Insider, adding that she’s even received criticism for wearing a mask while in the car with her daughter.
“Parenting is hard, in general,” Ermitaño said. “It’s not fair to hate on people that are trying their best.”
Haneline said she has also dealt with backlash — so much so that some of her followers act as moderators who alert her when the comments get too hateful. She tries not to respond herself — “I’ve had to get thick skin in these last two years,” she said — but added it’s hard not to sometimes, especially when the criticism feels like a personal attack on her parenting.
“They want me to be raw and show that side of motherhood, but then when I do show that side, I get hated on,” Haneline told Insider. “It’s a never-win situation.”
Still, Haneline believes the value of being part of TikTok’s single-mom community outweighs the downsides. “A lot of kids reach out and are like, ‘I wish that I had a mom like you,'” Haneline told Insider. It’s comments like those, she said, that drive her to continue sharing on TikTok.
“When people reach out to me from all over the world saying, ‘You have no idea how much you’re helping me,’ it makes it feel like, OK, so there is a purpose for me to be on this site,” she said.
For more stories like this, check out coverage from Insider’s Digital Culture team here.