Warner Bros. Television

19 Single TV & Movie Moms Who Taught Us You Don't Need A Partner To Parent

Growing up as the child of a single mother,I rarely saw a family like ours on the silver screen. Crazy, independent, mildly dysfunctional — my family had it all, and then some. My mom was (and still is) one of the strongest women I've ever known. I was incredibly lucky to have her raise me, and my upbringing is probably why I love all of the single TV & movie moms who taught you that you don't need a partner so much. Being a single mom isn't easy — parenting all alone isn't necessarily the kind of family people dream about creating. But there are many fictional moms who, for one reason or another, found themselves raising their children on their own. And they did it so well.

Motherhood isn't always glamorous, easy, or about the special relationship you have with your partner. There are a number of single TV and movie moms who taught viewers that not every woman needs a partner to survive, even when they have children. From the perfect parent-child moments to the times of struggle, the following single TV movie moms are here to remind you that you can not only get buy parenting without a partner, but you can do a damn good job at it too.


Lorelai Gilmore of 'Gilmore Girls'

Warner Bros. Television

Fast-talking, quirky, loud-mouthed, quick-witted, Lorelai Gilmore was a smarty-pants whose shenanigans were always getting her in to some kind of trouble. Raising her daughter Rory on her own wasn't always easy, but she did an incredible job, making sacrifices (sometimes including her own pride) to give Rory the best education, so she could make her own way in the world.


Grace of 'Grace Under Fire'

Carsey-Werner Company

In Grace Under Fire, the titular character gets the courage to divorce her no-good husband and start a life for herself as a single mom. Working a blue collar job to support her children and get off of welfare, Grace portrayed the common struggles of day to day life as a newly divorced mom. Things weren't always pretty with Grace and her kids, but she did a damn good job at juggling her job and raising her children on her own.


Dede Tate of 'Little Man Tate'

Dede Tate is a single mom with a gifted child. She wants to give her son a normal childhood, but worries about not being able to provide the kind of life her child (one who writes operas in his spare time) truly needs. Strong and dedicated, after much consideration, Dede allows a child psychologist to help with Fred's education so that he can flourish in his gifts.


Jenna of 'Waitress'

When Jenna finds out she's pregnant, she's less than pleased. (And I know there are some moms out there who weren't initially thrilled when they found out they were with child.) But in time, Jenna comes into her own, choosing to divorce her husband and embracing life as a single mother, because she knows it will be a better life for her child.


Erin Brockovich of 'Erin Brockovich'

Perhaps one of the most epic single moms in movie history, Erin Brockovich does not mess around. Between working hard to get to the bottom of things for her clients and bending over backwards to make sure her three children are raised well, this feisty mom is one you won't soon forget.


Vianne of 'Chocolat'

The promotional material for this film is so deceiving. It shows Juliette Binoche sexually feeding a piece of chocolate to Johnny Depp. But don't be fooled — this movie is really about single mom Vianne moving to a small (conservative) town in France to follow her passion while raising her daughter. Even better? Vianne has no shame in saying she doesn't know who her daughter's father is. It's a seriously feminist flick, and heartwarming to boot.


Rachel Flax, 'Mermaids'

Children with wacky moms, this one's for you. Mermaids handles the idea of romantic entanglement for mother and daughter expertly, leaving you dancing in your seat when mom (played by Cher) and daughters (played by Christina Ricci and Winona Ryder) have a dance party in the kitchen at the end of the flick. Though the women in the movie struggle with each of their situations, they're all stronger for it in the end.


Aunt Hilda & Aunt Zelda of 'Sabrina: The Teenage Witch'

Viacom Productions

So I know that Aunt Hilda and Aunt Zelda aren't technically single mothers, but they might as well be. Taking in teenager Sabrina is no easy feat, but Hilda and Zelda work together despite their differences to help Sabrina not only through the horrors of high school, but through her transition into witch-hood.


Susan Meyer of 'Desperate Housewives'

Cherry Alley Productions

After a divorce, Susan Meyer raises her daughter Julie on her own. Even though sometimes it seems like Julie's more of an adult than her mother, Susan's love and support for Julie never wavers throughout the series. Though Susan does get remarried and has a son with her new husband, she eventually finds herself a single mother of two and a soon-to-be grandmother. Talk about inspirational.


Miranda Hobbes of 'Sex and the City'

When Miranda finds out she's pregnant, her world is rocked. She's used to living the fabulous single life with her girlfriends in Manhattan, being a high powered lawyer, and isn't quite ready to become a mother. But through personal sacrifice and compromise, Miranda does all she can to give her son the best life she can, including working through a tumultuous relationship with the father, Steve.


Miranda Bailey of 'Grey's Anatomy'

ABC Studios

Dr. Bailey's marriage falls apart shortly after the birth of her son when her partner accues her of being "married to the job." Throughout the show, she navigates balancing her life as a single mom, and her crazy job at Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital.


Hilda Suarez of 'Ugly Betty'

With help from her father and sister, Hilda Suarez encourages her son to be true to himself, always. Though he doesn't quite fit in with the rest of the kids in his class, she loves him for exactly who he is, and wants him to succeed in everything he does. With hard work, love, and perseverance, Hilda raises her son to be happy above all else.


Rachel Green of 'Friends'

When Rachel gets pregnant with Ross' baby, you kind of assumed they were going to get back together, didn't you? And then that whole Joey thing. But Rachel decides she doesn't really want a husband, and decides to raise Emma on her own, making you love her for maybe the first time in the entire series.


J.C. Wiatto of 'Baby Boom'

When overachiever J.C. unexpectedly finds herself pregnant without a partner at her side, she steps up to the plate. Though it isn't exactly the life she imagined for herself, she's a prime example of women who are doing it for themselves, by themselves, and doing it well.


Novalee Nation of 'Where The Heart Is'

When pregnant Novalee is left at a gas station by her deadbeat boyfriend, she finds herself homeless with only a few dollars to her name, and a baby on the way. Facing obstacles left and right, Novalee learns that it takes a village to raise not only her daughter, but herself, too, and that family is something you create.


May Miller of 'Tyler Perry's Single Moms Club'

If the title didn't give it away, this movie is all about single mothers. Bringing together a cast of strong women playing strong women, the single moms in this movie find support in one another, rather than romantic relationships. Together, they make their way through trials and tribulations of motherhood. Though any one of the moms depicted in the film could have been on this list, May is my personal favorite, because she's an aspiring writer who struggles with getting back on her feet after a publisher shuts her down. Single moms don't just struggle with their children, they struggle with every day obstacles, just like everybody else.


Mary of 'E.T.'

Steven Spielberg wrote E.T. with his experience as a child of divorce in mind. Hence why Mary is a recently divorced single mom with three children. Though she's struggling, she isn't afraid to make it up as she went along, and she certainly wasn't afraid to be alone.


Miranda Hillard of 'Mrs. Doubtfire'

20th Century Fox

Miranda Hillard, primary breadwinner and amidst a bitter divorce, hires a nanny to help with her children and the house — not because she can't handle the household chores, but because she's a successful woman, and she doesn't have to do the vacuuming. Aside from the fact that she's completely oblivious to the fact that she hired her soon to be ex husband in drag as the nanny, Miranda is a strong, successful single mom who loves her children, and isn't afraid to do things on her own.


Flor Moreno of 'Spanglish'

Single mother Flor is struggling with instilling her own conservative Catholic values in her daughter, while allowing her the freedom to grow up as an independent American woman. Though she has to make tough decisions that don't necessarily make her daughter happy, she simply wants to do right by her daughter, and works her hardest to do so.