This HBO Single Mother Documentary Is Sure To Bring Out The Troll Patrol

hbo single mother documentary 4

I don’t know about you, but I’m excited to see the new HBO single mother documentary tomorrow. It’s called “Paycheck to Paycheck: The Life and Times of Katrina Gilbert,” and it follows 30-year-old Gilbert, a mom of three, as she struggles to make ends meet as a single mom.

Obviously, even before the film airs and we know her entire story, the troll patrol is coming down pretty hard on Gilbert, who they presume is some kind of welfare queen:

hbo single mother documentary 1

hbo single mother documentary 2 hbo single mother documentary 3

What these folks don’t understand is that Gilbert separated from her husband of 10 years after he developed a serious addiction to pain pills. His addiction caused him to be a danger to the family and left him unable to provide support. Gilbert works as a Certified Nurse Assistant at a nursing home, and from the looks of it is great at her job. Still, she only makes $9.49 an hour, which translates to a measly $18,000 a year. Every morning she wakes up at the crack of dawn and drops her kids off at a daycare center meant specifically for low-income families. Any misstep could mean disaster for the family, because at 18K a year, there is absolutely no room for error. It’s heartbreaking and unfair.

Regardless of how one becomes a single parent (I was raised by my single dad for years, so this is hardly just a woman issue), no one should who works their ass off this hard should have to live in poverty. People like Gilbert aren’t trying to live off the system and not work.They’re just trying to feed their families the best way they know how.

Obviously  I’m not an expert on labor laws, the minimum wage or…well…anything really. I’m not sure what needs to change in order to make this situation better. But something does need to change, that is certain.

(Photo: YouTube)

Be Sociable, Share!
Be Sociable, Share!
  • EmmaFromÉire

    If it were about a single dad people would be falling over themselves to tell him how strong and brave he is for going it alone. How he must be doing the best for his kids to have left the mother.
    What kills me is even is this woman had been widowed nobody would really give a fuck, because single moms are the lowest common denominator in peoples’ perception of bad households.
    Why are people so quick to praise single dads but pass endless judgement on single mothers?

    • Frances Locke

      THIS. This so much.

    • G.S.

      But Emma, didn’t you hear? All women are PSYCHIC and always know for EXACT sure if a guy is going to die/want a divorce/do a number of things that call for a divorce/etc, before any possible kids become 18! Haha, stupid bitches.

      But seriously, my auntie is actually widowed with a now ten-year-old and a sixteen-month-old. It really friggin’ sucks. Anyone who instantly assumes that “single mothers are all stupid sluts with no foresight or knowledge about birth control and just want a welfare check every month” can go die in a hole.

    • MellyG

      Obviously your auntie should have known she would be a widow, and then marry someone different. Clearly.

      On a non sarcastic note – i’m so sorry about your aunt. That would actually be really tough.

    • EmmaFromÉire

      Why did you spread your slut legs if you KNEW he was gonna kick the bucket in three years??

    • EmmaFromÉire

      I’m sorry to hear about your aunt. That’s hard, I hope she has the people she needs around her :(

    • Angela

      Plus even if she was literally a prostitute would that make standing by and doing nothing while her children’s needs go unmet any more justifiable?

    • blh

      Because men are way more likely to leave their children than moms. So its just more shocking to see a dad raising children alone. Sad but true.

    • JJ

      Don’t you know according to certain people society women are just lazy bitches who tamper with birth control so they can try to have as many babies as possible to trick men into being with them. Oh us sneaky bitches. We collect babies like Pokeman just so we can bring in all that financial assistants money and make it rain in strip clubs. According to anti women people ladies just love having babies so we can buy coach purses, prada glasses and neglect our kids. Singles mothers milk the system for money until they get back on their feet financially, how dare they? But when dad does it he is just providing for his family till he gets more work.

      We live in a a very sexist, twisted world sometimes.

    • ted3553

      At first i read this as have a baby and get a prada purse and I then wondered where I went wrong because I have a baby and no damn prada purse and every time I see Olivia Pope with her gorgeous Prada bag I die a little inside.

      and I love how the comments are about what a crappy decision she made to have kids but I no discussion on the Dad’s participation.

    • Taxes Make Kittens Cry

      Men can’t get preggers. Believe me, I tried!

  • Alicia Kiner

    Wow, people are so quick to judge something that hasn’t even aired yet. Hate to be the one to break it to them though, but financial woes when raising children aren’t limited to one parent households. There are all kinds of reasons for having difficulties, and shouldn’t we be reaching out to the people that are working hard? Not trying to push them back or down harder?

  • Justme

    I know this comment will reek of irony, but…

    I hate that the internet (mainly Twitter, Facebook, and *ahem* comment boards) have given every Joe Schmo the false sense of ego that they’re opinion is vitally important and valid to every single discussion or topic.

    • Frances Locke

      I will check that out, it sounds interesting!

    • arrow2010

      So you hate free speech. you would force everyone to be registered under their real names so retribution could be had.

  • K.

    The association of poverty with immorality has to stop.

    What ugly people.

    • CW

      There are people who are poor because of bad life decisions, and people who are poor through no fault of their own (especially given how lousy the economy has been over the past 7 years). I think we as a society need to do much more to improve the social safety net for the latter folks.

    • MellyG

      even being poor by bad choices doesn’t make you a bad person. Hindsight is always 20/20, and sometimes people do stupid things, doesn’t make them a bad person really

    • smishsmash

      Quite frankly, I think the social safety net should also help out the people who are poor due to bad life decisions as well. This isn’t Victorian england where you have to prove you are an exceptionally moral person just to warrant a bowl of oatmeal. Some people make bad decisions, it happens. I certainly made some bad decisions in my life but because I am a middle class college educated white person, we just call that youthful hijinks. The punishment for those bad decisions shouldn’t be dying alone in the gutter while people spit on you for being a loser in a country as rich as America.

    • Frances Locke

      I totally agree with you, and I think the prevalence of corrupt high level politicians that cheat on their spouses and get caught with drugs should prove that even wealthy, successful folks make life-shatteringly bad decisions.

    • K.

      And who gets to decide what a “bad life decision” is? Under what circumstances? If you decide to sell drugs on the corner, is that a bad life decision? What about if you do it because your kids are starving? Or because your mother is dying?

      Those issues aside, I used to teach in the inner-city up in Washington Heights, NY. Here were some of the things I saw:
      - kids who would eat three plates of food on Friday afternoons because it was going to be the last meal they’d eat until Monday
      - kids who acted out in class–to the point of being bodily restrained–so that they could go to Bellevue hospital, get a warm meal, and play video games while waiting for a psych evaluation, because outside of school, they’d sit alone in an apartment without food, books, tv, or anything to do
      - kids who joined gangs because there was no other way to survive
      - mothers who were prostitutes because their husbands/boyfriends had either died or were incarcerated and they weren’t literate and therefore could not hold down regular jobs, or didn’t get paid enough with the jobs they had
      - a great many kids whose teeth were literally rotting out of their heads

      You may not like it that the mothers were prostitutes and the fathers were drug-dealers or gang members, but I promise you, there is no way of separating the “innocent” from the “guilty.” The children of these people are innocent and in order to help them, you have to help their parents. What you are saying is an understandable perspective; it’s also ridiculously naive, selfish, and I would say immoral. Jesus (the Jesus I follow) helped everyone; he never withheld it from those who were lost.

      Second, from a purely economic standpoint, it is MUCH MUCH CHEAPER to help people than to punish them. In every sense of the way, no matter which way you slice it. It is literally cheaper to take a heroin addict off the street, pay for room and board and daily private and group therapy plus healthcare plus mental benefits plus job training and professional development for one entire year, with follow-up for five years than it is to allow that addict to remain an addict on the street, putting a strain on law enforcement, hospitals and health services, local businesses, and the judiciary system. It is cheaper to give people food than it is to let them starve; cheaper to rehabilitate than to allow people to rot in jail; cheaper to provide healthcare than to make people pay for emergencies only.

      And I’d really like to know how you grew up and exactly what kinds of things you’ve triumphed over. Because I can practically guarantee from having read your posts that you’ve never had a difficult decision in your life.

    • Shelly Lloyd


  • MellyG

    I find it alarming that the commenters are men. I’m lucky,i guess, that i have male friends and relatives that don’t live in the dark ages. Obviously it’s better to have a two parent home for a lot of reasons – including TWO incomes. It’s also better to be rich than poor, or so i would assume – never been poor! It’s also better to be healthy than sick…….so i guess people should stop choosing to be poor single moms, they can just choose to be married and rich -why don’t they?!?!?!?

  • Angela

    I don’t think that the solution is to raise minimum wage. Minimum wage is fine for a teen working a summer job and it is possible for a young adult with no dependents to support themselves with a low-paying job. I’ve heard of making minimum wage age-based but I think that would make it even harder for young parents. There’s also no one size fits all solution to a livable wage either. A single parent of one child who receives regular support from the other parent would have very different needs than a single parent of five who has no support. Plus it would be a huge burden to already struggling small businesses and it’s likely that it would just make unskilled work even harder to find if employees could pay a younger person less to do the same job.

    I think that the real solution is to widen our social safety nets. My state does offer subsidized daycare, but only in a few centers with extremely long wait lists and very, very few options location-wise. I think that to make this more accessible that it should be available from any licensed provider and that more families should qualify. Our housing assistance programs could be expanded as well as SNAP, medicaid, and CHIPS. I also would like to see low-income families to receive diapers, wipes, and diaper rash cream as well as clothing assistance for children. On top of that I would like to offer more programs to help single parents obtain their educations or vocational training and make mental health services available to all. Plus I’d like to see every parent offered paid maternity leave. If we did a better job of ensuring that families’ basic needs get met then it would take the pressure of many low-earning parents without needing to raise minimum wage.

    • pixie

      Minimum wage is age-based, at least where I live in Canada. A company does not legally have to pay you minimum wage if you are under the age of 18. Pretty well all will, but they legally do not have to.

    • ChickenKira

      It’s age-based in Australia too.

  • Liz

    As someone whose mother is a single parent, I find these kinds of comments deeply offensive. My mum works really hard to bring in a tiny paycheck and only truly gets by because of subsidized housing. There was a time where we were on welfare, and it definitely wasn’t because we wanted to be. There was also a time where we lost our home. We had to stay with family until we could find somewhere to live. No one would welcome us because she didn’t make the kind of money necessary and we had just been evicted which meant many places had a policy they wouldn’t take us. We couldn’t even get welfare because we didn’t have rent to pay and therefore didn’t need the money.

    My parents didn’t split because of anything that happened, they just grew apart. And you know what? Every single one of us, both my parents and myself and my siblings, were all so much happier when they were apart. I am not sure any of us could have stood to have them stay together. My dad went a couple years without paying child support at all, and then even when he started, he barely paid anything at all. But people would blame my mother for doing her best to take care of us.

    Most people would not choose to live below the poverty line. It’s so disgusting and offensive to me that anyone would make those kinds of comments who is doing the best with what they have. I’d like to see those pompous assholes make it by the way some people have to.

  • Angela

    Here’s another somewhat related thing. I’m not denying that there aren’t many single parents who struggle financially or that there aren’t challenges associated with raising kids on your own. But sometimes I feel like the stereotype of the struggling single mom is so prevalent that people tend to assume that every single mom is poor, which obviously is not the case. I don’t think that we should ignore the struggling parents, but it also makes me a bit uncomfortable that ‘single mom’ seems to be synonymous with ‘poverty’ in the eyes of many.

    • Valerie

      I hear you. I’m good friends with a single mom who’s ex gives her barely any child support but she has a fantastic job so it doesn’t even matter. She prob makes three quarters of what me and my husband make combined and we both do pretty ok. She has a gorgeous house and they go on vacations all the time. I know many 2-parent households doing much worse than she is!!

    • arrow2010

      Congrats to here. She’s in the privileged 1%. This is what Occupy Wall Street is all about.

    • Valerie

      Yeah….except no. She took out loans and paid her own way through 2 masters degrees and worked her way up the chain at a prestigious university. She wasn’t handed much of anything on a silver platter and is the furthest thing from a 1%er. But it’s cool that you’re an oracle or whatever and seem to think you know so much from 3 sentences worth of info.

  • Marie

    I think that behind a lot of the ugliness in the comments is fear. People no longer have a sense of “There but by the grace of God go I” or whatever the modern equivalent is. We could all be one step away from tragedy, but we’re afraid to admit it. So we tell ourselves that we make better choices, so what happens to other people can’t happen to us. My aunt was married to a kind, hardworking man. He was in a car accident and had a concussion and seemed to recover, but slowly turned into a monster who gambled away their life savings and verbally abused and threatened his family until she was forced to leave with nothing. Your choices may have been perfect and your family wonderful but you’re still not immune. But people don’t want to face this reality, so they attack and find fault with people who are in difficulty so they can tell themselves, “I would never do this or that, so those problems will never happen to me.” It’s easier to blame and feel good about yourself than have compassion and face your own vulnerability.

    • ChickenKira

      Exactly. My husband and I are doing okay. We’re by no means rolling in cash, but we don’t have to worry about the roof over our heads or being able to afford food, and we can afford to go out for dinner every now and then, or go and see a movie or buy toys for our daughter. But that can all change, I’m a librarian, libraries are facing funding cuts, with that comes job cuts and there is always a possibility that the income I bring in may disappear one day. In addition to that there is always a chance that one of us could become seriously injured, or hey, one of us may die and the other would either be left caring for another adult and a child, or as a single parent.

      Sure, we got married and had careers before we had a child, that doesn’t make us infallible.

    • NeedsImprovement

      Yeah, i think a lot of people are living one missed paycheck away from devastation and they choose to ignore that fact. I have almost no savings due to moves and needing to purchase a car that wouldn’t die on my three hour weekly trips, and I know that most of my students have been on the streets or could easily be back there at a moment’s notice. Hey, ignorance is bliss for them, I guess – at least until it happens to them.

    • Frances Locke

      You hit the nail on the head.

    • Benwhoski

      One thing people tend to forget is that even if every single person everywhere worked really, really hard, went to college for a degree in an in-demand, lucrative field, and otherwise did what society deems “the right things” every step of the way and was physically able to work, there simply are not enough sustainable, livable wage jobs out there for all of us. Some chunk of the population still has to serve food, clean, work in retail, etc. I don’t understand why anyone thinks it’s okay for those who fill the positions in these services we all want and use to be living in poverty.

  • Williwaw

    I knew a single mom who worked her way through a bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate, raising 3 kids without any help from the father. She had apartment owners refuse to rent to her because she was a single mom of 3. She had managers of subsidized housing harass her, claiming her apartment was “dirty” (a ludicrous claim, because I babysat for her and her place was always immaculate, way cleaner than any place I have ever lived in). She got some of her furniture and other household items from Dumpsters. She and the kids even had to live out of her car for a few months. Her now-grown kids are awesome people and so is she. I feel awful every time I think of all the crap she had to take about being a single parent….and I also think that whether you’re gung-ho and overcoming all kinds of obstacles, as she did, or struggling just to make it through another month, you deserve a lot more compassion and help than most of society gives.

    I think people who diss single parents just don’t care who they’re insulting – they just need another excuse to (a) feel superior, and (b) believe that single parents are to blame for their condition, therefore if you are a “good” person, it won’t happen to you. I wish people could just quit assuming that someone (whether a single parent or not) who has fallen on hard times is “bad” and to blame for it.

  • C.J.

    Before people judge they should try walking in someone else’s shoes. I have nothing but respect for single parents who are doing the best they can and working hard. It doesn’t matter how they became a single parent, what is important is the example they set for their children. I would rather see more resources go to those that are trying than to those that just don’t feel like working.

  • JJ

    Apparently none of the anti women, anti single parents commentators featured in the article have heard the classic saying: “S*** happens”. You know most people, men or women, don’t wake up and go damn I want to be a single parent starting today boo yay! Outside of single adoption or sperm bank pregnancies most people aren’t rushing to raise a child alone but you know what? Life happens and its messy, unfair and hard sometimes. There are lots of great, loving single parents out there who make it work I hate that we automatically have this negative image of a single parent. A child can be raised by two parents in a dual income household and still grow up dysfunction, shocking I know(to the anti single parent brigade) but it happens. And a child could grow up in a single parent income household and grow up be an amazing person. Why do our circumstance growing up have to stereotype and define who we are and what we will do in life?

    And yeah there are single parents who struggle financially and emotionally at times but they still deserve support and help to be able to raise their kids till they are back in a better position. I don’t understand how you could look at a women and her kids struggling to feed and clothes themselves and just be like, f*** them I don’t want them get any financial assistants they need to pull up their boot straps. We all live in society together is it really going to hurt us to help those out who need help? At some point or another in life that could be anyone of us if we fell into dire situations suddenly. Life is unpredictable.

  • Emily

    augh this trailer brought tears to my eyes! it really sucks that people are going to instantly assume that she is a single mom because she slept around, when two people get married they do not expect to become single parents or to struggle bringing food to the table and maintaining a stable home environment for their children. shame on them. My mother was a single mother and not because she wanted to be one and I saw her struggle to bring food to the table, keep us clothed and even to buy presents for Christmas. At times we could open the fridge and find nothing other than milk. It was hard however I learned to value everything we had and learn to keep a smile when things got tough.
    whether children grow up in a two parent household makes no real difference if both are earning minimum wage. just saying.

  • NeedsImprovement

    I really feel for this woman especially once I heard her back story. My father struggled with addiction, primarily to pain pills as well, from when he was a teenager until he passed away from a heroin overdose almost a year ago. He totally hid it from my sister and I, and my mom made the choice to look the other way and to not try to connect some of the dots she was seeing because she thought it was best for her kids. While I don’t know if that was ultimately the right decision, both my mother and this woman knew when they had had enough, and they were bold enough to step out entirely on their own without any sort of safety net left. Cheers to Katrina for her bravery, and I hope that her fortunes may improve soon.

  • arrow2010

    I still don’t understand why liberals celebrate single-mom households. There is nothing better about a child having only one parents, and especially not having a dad. Sons need fathers.

    • English teacher

      ‘Liberal’ is an adjective. There is no such thing as ‘liberals’.

    • Renee J

      I don’t see anybody celebrating single parent households. Not judging isn’t the same thing as hold it up as preferable.

    • Upsilon

      on the off chance that you are serious and not just stirring the pot, lemme ask you–Do you really think that most single parents intended for their partners to be either deceased or otherwise absent? How nice for you that you’ve never had to deal with this, but for everyone else, life happens. it can be messy and unpleasant sometimes, but we all just have to get along somehow, esp if you are raising children. Try to have some compassion for those who have a tougher road than you do.

    • rrlo

      How is a documentary about a single parent raising 3 children by themselves and living paycheck to paycheck “celebrating” anything? You have one weird definition of celebrating.

    • CW

      She was MARRIED when she had her kids but unfortunately did not have a crystal ball to allow her to foresee that her husband would get addicted to pain pills. She’s now engaged so her kids will presumably have a stepdad in the near future. There are plenty of women out there who have multiple kids by multiple “baby daddies” without ever bothering to marry, but Ms. Gilbert isn’t one of them.

    • JJ

      Quick someone alert the lesbians that there children are now psychologically scarred for life! Tell the gay fathers too who raise daughters without biological mothers! What an offensive thing to imply about anyone who is raised without a parent the same gender as them.

  • ShanLea

    Oh man…forgive me for all the bad language that’s sure to follow while I rant…
    FUCK these stupid trolls!!! Wonder what they would say about my story…In a nutshell, I’ve been widowed for a little over 2 years. I don’t work. Because of the shitty options for child care in my small town, I’ve chosen to spend a couple years living off our social security survivor benefits until my parents retire and become my childcare providers. We don’t get food stamps or welfare, the only thing we qualify for is state-funded healthcare for the kids (not for me, thanks obamacare). I get a lot of shit for “living off the government” but I make no apologies for how I live. We’re not extravagant, but my 12 year old has a cell phone, we have satellite tv, and we go away for a weekend every three months or so (not resort type, more like a Holiday Inn with a good swimming pool)
    If these fucktards have a problem with how I live, they can gladly have my life for a few days…especially as my little one gets older and starts asking why he doesn’t have a daddy. In other words, don’t judge ANY single mom, until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes!!!

  • Personal

    I know 2 women whose husbands died beffore getting to see their (unborn) children. One years ago and one just recently. How horrible to think they might be judged harshly.

    Children should not grow up in poverty in a rich country, no matter what circumstances led to the poverty. I would much rather know that my tax money was going to help fund food stamps than subsidies for wealthy people like Stephen Fincher. Honestly, READ this. I cannot understand how people can support someone like this.

  • Pingback: Single Woman Throws Herself A Sperm-Picking Party()