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14 Signs That You Have An Unconventional Mom

14 Signs That You Have An Unconventional Mom

Unconventional moms break the traditional roles of motherhood, but that doesn’t mean they don’t make excellent mothers. My own mom dabbled on the side of the unconventional mostly because she was ahead of her time. I didn’t realize this until I got older and became a mother myself, which is probably why I turned out the way I did. I became “that mom” — the one who wears the weird shirts and the cool shoes, the one the kids want to talk to, and the one “who let her daughter dye her hair pink.”

Being unconventional doesn’t mean you break with all tradition. In fact, we grew up with several traditions, especially around holiday time. My mom and I still appreciate and pass along things like etiquette and good manners to our children. We insist on thank-you notes and shaking hands and giving up seats for elderly. My parenting is unconventional in part due to my upbringing, my reaction to the cards I’ve been dealt, and the choices my husband and I have made because both of our children have congenital and chronic illnesses. We want to give our children ample opportunities to make choices, to make mistakes, and to make their lives great — which is the goal of every parent. I know I’m unconventional in my parenting, but I’m okay with being a bit outside the box.

Wondering if your mom is unconventional? Here’s a list of qualities to look for.

1. She doesn’t expect perfection.

This is a big deal. We live in a world where everyone has to win and everything has to be the best. Of course she hopes you’ll succeed and she’ll be your biggest cheerleader, she just won’t push you to win, win, win at any cost. You don’t have to be the best. You just have to be you, and that’s good enough for her.

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2. She lets you experiment.

Life is an adventure. You have to stick your neck out a little. You have to experiment. Sometimes the results are good, sometimes not so good. Like the time you poured dish soap in the jacuzzi to make bubbles and ended up with a foamy disaster. Or the time you thought you’d test your independence that first time your parents went out of town and, well, you know the rest. But experimenting also gave you the courage, skills, and knowledge you still use to this day. You can thank your unconventional mom for that freedom.

3. She looks pretty in party dresses, but can still rock graphic tee’s and Chuck Taylor’s.

Her sense of style may not fit the usual “Mom” mold, and maybe she teeters on the embarrassing side, but like it or not, her unconventional fashion is no statement at all. It’s just her being her, and that in itself is a statement you should be proud of. What’s she’s doing is raising you to like yourself and be proud of yourself (to borrow a phrase from Bridget Jones’s Diary) “just as you are.” I’m proud of my collection of high-tops and retro t-shirts, but love to put on the fancy stuff too.

4. She’ll never be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. Or maybe she will, simply because it’s hot outside and you’re both hungry.

The point I’m trying to make is that she’s no stereotype. If she’s doing anything that fits a mold, it’s probably an accident or because she’s choosing it for another reason — that reason is usually you. She loves you and no matter what she does, against the grain or not, you’re her priority.

5. She’s not afraid to pursue her passion.

Yes, you’re her priority, but she’s not afraid to go for an opportunity in life. She’s just really good at making it all work out. Though your schedule may look like someone dropped ink on a checkerboard, be sure your mom’s got it (or at least, really good at pretending to have it) under control. My mom was a registered nurse who did the night shift to make it work for us. With three kids, our calendar looked like the cat threw up on it.

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6. She lets you dye your hair, get piercings, or dress differently.

Though this isn’t always the case, unconventional moms are usually way more lenient in the “get your freak on” department. This is especially good for teens exploring their inner selves. My mom didn’t love it, but she didn’t ground me for life when I graduated high school with purple hair.

7. She talks to you about the taboo stuff.

That’s right — I mean the stuff other parents don’t want to talk about. Sex, drugs, alcohol, STDs, birth-control, whatever. She’s so willing to talk about it that your friends come to her for advice. It’s almost embarrassing, but it’s also cool at the same time. It’s better to talk to Mom than to Google. Trust me, you get all kinds of weird YouTube videos and then viruses and it’s all downhill from there.

8. She not only listens to you, she hears you.

It’s great that you and your friends can talk to your unconventional mom about the taboo stuff, but what’s better is that she’ll actually listen to you. She doesn’t try to force her opinion down your throat. She doesn’t instantly judge you or try to change your mind. She hears you and then helps you figure out what you need from her.

9. She wants you to fail.

Read carefully: She wants you to fail. She doesn’t want you to be a failure. Failing is okay because you can learn from it. She wants you to use that moment as a tool. She wants you to improve and grow from that situation. Like the time I failed organic chemistry in college. Mom was right — I learned from that experience and even changed my direction in life thanks to that one failure.

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10. She doesn’t believe in doing things “by the book.”

That’s because she wants to frustrate the hell out of you. Because doing it the normal way is boring. Because you need to figure it out for yourself. Yada yada. Whatever her reasoning is, you’ll appreciate it in the long run. Especially when you get to college and get thrown into group projects and have to use your own brain to think outside the box. All that experience fending for yourself will come in handy.

11. She doesn’t gossip.

She won’t sit around the coffee shop talking about other moms or kids.

12. She doesn’t need money.

We’ve been rich, we’ve been poor. Mom found ways to make life cool either way.

13. She loves you differently from your siblings.

Say what you will, but it’s true. Unconventional moms have different relationships with each child and aren’t afraid to admit it. It’s not that they love one more than the other, it’s that they’re comfortable loving each child in his or her own unique way. Just because my brother gets a day with my mom doesn’t mean I have to get a day with her. Her gift to me might be something else.

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14. She loves you unconditionally.

No matter what you say or do, unconventional moms love their children… to Venus and back. (You didn’t expect me to go all traditional now, did you?)

Featured photo credit: anton petukhov via flickr.com

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Missy Mitchell

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Last Updated on March 14, 2019

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

Recruiters might hold thousands of interviews in their careers and a lot of them are reporting the same thing—that most candidates play it safe with the questions they ask, or have no questions to ask in a job interview at all.

For job applicants, this approach is crazy! This is a job that you’re going to dedicate a lot of hours to and that might have a huge impact on your future career. Don’t throw away the chance to figure out if the position is perfect for you.

Here are 7 killer questions to ask in a job interview that will both impress your counterpart and give you some really useful insights into whether this job will be a dream … or a nightmare.

1. What are some challenges I might come up against this role?

A lesser candidate might ask, “what does a typical day look like in this role?” While this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask in an interview, focusing on potential challenges takes you much further because it indicates that you already are visualizing yourself in the role.

It’s impressive because it shows that you are not afraid of challenges, and you are prepared to strategize a game plan upfront to make sure you succeed if you get the job.

It can also open up a conversation about how you’ve solved problems in the past which can be a reassuring exercise for both you and the hiring manager.

How it helps you:

If you ask the interviewer to describe a typical day, you may get a vibrant picture of all the lovely things you’ll get to do in this job and all the lovely people you’ll get to do them with.

Asking about potential roadblocks means you hear the other side of the story—dysfunctional teams, internal politics, difficult clients, bootstrap budgets and so on. This can help you decide if you’re up for the challenge or whether, for the sake of your sanity, you should respectfully decline the job offer.

2. What are the qualities of really successful people in this role?

Employers don’t want to hire someone who goes through the motions; they want to hire someone who will excel.

Asking this question shows that you care about success, too. How could they not hire you with a dragon-slayer attitude like that?

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How it helps you:

Interviewers hire people who are great people to work with, but the definition of “great people” differs from person to person.

Does this company hire and promote people with a specific attitude, approach, worth ethic or communication style? Are the most successful people in this role strong extroverts who love to talk and socialize when you are studious and reserved? Does the company reward those who work insane hours when you’re happiest in a more relaxed environment?

If so, then this may not be the right match for you.

Whatever the answer is, you can decide whether you have what it takes for the manager to be happy with your performance in this role. And if the interviewer has no idea what success looks like for this position, this is a sign to proceed with extreme caution.

3. From the research I did on your company, I noticed the culture really supports XYZ. Can you tell me more about that element of the culture and how it impacts this job role?

Of course, you could just ask “what is the culture like here? ” but then you would miss a great opportunity to show that you’ve done your research!

Interviewers give BIG bonus point to those who read up and pay attention, and you’ve just pointed out that (a) you’re diligent in your research (b) you care about the company culture and (c) you’re committed to finding a great cultural fit.

How it helps you:

This question is so useful because it lets you pick an element of the culture that you really care about and that will have the most impact on whether you are happy with the organization.

For example, if training and development is important to you, then you need to know what’s on offer so you don’t end up in a dead-end job with no learning opportunities.

Companies often talk a good talk, and their press releases may be full of shiny CSR initiatives and all the headline-grabbing diversity programs they’re putting in place. This is your opportunity to look under the hood and see if the company lives its values on the ground.

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A company that says it is committed to doing the right thing by customers should not judge success by the number of up-sells an employee makes, for instance. Look for consistency, so you aren’t in for a culture shock after you start.

4. What is the promotion path for this role, and how would my performance on that path be measured?

To be clear, you are not asking when you will get promoted. Don’t go there—it’s presumptuous, and it indicates that you think you are better than the role you have applied for.

A career-minded candidate, on the other hand, usually has a plan that she’s working towards. This question shows you have a great drive toward growth and advancement and an intention to stick with the company beyond your current state.

How it helps you:

One word: hierarchy.

All organizations have levels of work and authority—executives, upper managers, line managers, the workforce, and so on. Understanding the hierarchical structure gives you power, because you can decide if you can work within it and are capable of climbing through its ranks, or whether it will be endlessly frustrating to you.

In a traditional pyramid hierarchy, for example, the people at the bottom tend to have very little autonomy to make decisions. This gets better as you rise up through the pyramid, but even middle managers have little power to create policy; they are more concerned with enforcing the rules the top leaders make.

If having a high degree of autonomy and accountability is important to you, you may do better in a flat hierarchy where work teams can design their own way of achieving the corporate goals.

5. What’s the most important thing the successful candidate could accomplish in their first 3 months/6 months/year?

Of all the questions to ask in a job interview, this one is impressive because it shows that you identify with and want to be a successful performer, and not just an average one.

Here, you’re drilling down into what the company needs, and needs quite urgently, proving that you’re all about adding value to the organization and not just about what’s in it for you.

How it helps you:

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Most job descriptions come with 8, 10 or 12 different job responsibilities and a lot of them with be boilerplate or responsibilities that someone in HR thinks are associated with this role. This question gives you a better sense of which responsibilities are the most important—and they may not be what initially attracted you to the role.

If you like the idea of training juniors, for example, but success is judged purely on your sales figures, then is this really the job you thought you were applying for?

This question will also give you an idea of what kind of learning curve you’re expected to have and whether you’ll get any ramp-up time before getting down to business. If you’re the type of person who likes to jump right in and get things done, for instance, you may not be thrilled to hear that you’re going to spend the first three months shadowing a peer.

6. What do you like about working here?

This simple question is all about building rapport with the interviewer. People like to talk about themselves, and the interviewer will be flattered that you’re interested in her opinions.

Hopefully, you’ll find some great connection points that the two of you share. What similar things drive you head into the office each day? How will you fit into the culture?

How it helps you:

You can learn a lot from this question. Someone who genuinely enjoys his job will be able to list several things they like, and their answers will sound passionate and sincere. If not….well, you might consider that a red flag.

Since you potentially can learn a lot about the company culture from this question, it’s a good idea to figure out upfront what’s important to you. Maybe you’re looking for a hands-off boss who values independent thought and creativity? Maybe you work better in environments that move at a rapid, exciting pace?

Whatever’s important to you, listen carefully and see if you can find any common ground.

7. Based on this interview, do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications for the role?

What a great closing question to ask in a job interview! It shows that you’re not afraid of feedback—in fact, you are inviting it. Not being able to take criticism is a red flag for employers, who need to know that you’ll act on any “coaching moments” with a good heart.

As a bonus, asking this question shows that you are really interested in the position and wish to clear up anything that may be holding the company back from hiring you.

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How it helps you:

What a devious beast this question is! On the surface, it looks straightforward, but it’s actually giving you four key pieces of information.

First, is the manager capable of giving you feedback when put on the spot like this? Some managers are scared of giving feedback, or don’t think it’s important enough to bother outside of a formal performance appraisal. Do you want to work for a boss like that? How will you improve if no one is telling you what you did wrong?

Second, can the manager give feedback in a constructive way without being too pillowy or too confrontational? It’s unfair to expect the interviewer to have figured out your preferred way of receiving feedback in the space of an interview, but if she come back with a machine-gun fire of shortcomings or one of those corporate feedback “sandwiches” (the doozy slipped between two slices of compliment), then you need to ask yourself, can you work with someone who gives feedback like that?

Third, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about before you leave the interview. This gives you the chance to make a final, tailored sales pitch so you can convince the interviewer that she should not be worried about those things.

Fourth, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about period. If turnover is keeping him up at night, then your frequent job hopping might get a lot of additional scrutiny. If he’s facing some issues with conflict or communication, then he might raise concerns regarding your performance in this area.

Listen carefully: the concerns that are being raised about you might actually be a proxy for problems in the wider organization.

Making Your Interview Work for You

Interviews are a two-way street. While it is important to differentiate yourself from every other candidate, understand that convincing the interviewer you’re the right person for the role goes hand-in-hand with figuring out if the job is the right fit for you.

Would you feel happy in a work environment where the people, priorities, culture and management style were completely at odds with the way you work? Didn’t think so!

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Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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