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13 Things Single Parents Won’t Tell You

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13 Things Single Parents Won’t Tell You

There’s no such thing as a “nuclear family” in modern society. The family unit continues to evolve and change with time, as society’s standards, norms, and expectations of what family life can be and what it can symbolise and consist of today. Traditional families, blended families, guardians, same-sex-parental families…”family” has never had such a broad and all-encompassing meaning as it does at the moment.

However, one group of parents still find themselves carrying a lot of societal stigma–single parents. They make up a significant, if relatively small, percentage of the population, and face additional problems, worries, and challenges to the ones that parents with partners find themselves up against. They might find themselves under pressure thanks to a lack of support, they might find aspects of their lives lacking or neglected, or they simply might just find themselves exhausted from the strain.

It’s not that hard to imagine that single parents keep a lot of their frustrations and worries to themselves . Here are just a few that they’re probably not telling their beloved children:

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1. Being ‘just’ a single parent can overwhelm them.

One thing single parents are sure to keep themselves is that sometimes it can be really hard to try and create their own sense of “self”. That isn’t to say that they wander about, unsure about who they are, but they rarely have time to wholly explore their passions and their quirks, what makes them tick underneath the surface. If they become a single parent particularly young, the responsibility can sometimes lead to not being able to identify themselves as a fully-fledged person–just a parent. Fortunately, it doesn’t last and single parents are available to continue defining themselves through their work, their families, and their relationships outside of the parent-child bond.

2. Sometimes the social lives of single parents can be simply catching up on sleep.

Single parents can sometimes find that their “social lives” consist of nothing more than napping, sleeping if they’re lucky, and maybe having a chance to catch up on some TV. Most single parents juggle a home life with work, which leaves much less time to actually relax and take care of themselves. Single parents might seem like they can breeze through everything and juggle it all–after all they manage to raise a child and hold down a job–but it takes its toll, and sadly sometimes that toll is treating sleep like it’s a treat. Single parents love their kids but learn to treasure their sleep like the valuable commodity it is.

3. Single parents will talk about anything to their kids, even if they don’t understand it.

Yes, kids might not be the best conversationalists in the world, but as any single parent will tell you, they make fantastic sounding boards. When you’re frustrated with something, moaning about someone else, and/or just fancy having a good old rant at the world, your young child will provide a happily oblivious person to bounce things off. Talking to yourself might not be entirely conducive, but single parents might just consider this a great survival tactic and way to keep conversations going–even if that someone can’t exactly converse back.

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4. Sometimes single parents use babysitters so they can do nothing.

This isn’t mature, and it isn’t really something expected of being a mature single parent, but sometimes single parents call in the sitters to just sit at home and do absolutely nothing. Not a jot of anything productive. If you’re incredibly lucky enough to have a functioning support system around you–your parents, loved ones, or relatives–who can look after your child for the odd evening, sometimes you might utilise them just so you can sit back and just be for an evening. Indulging in this kind of entirely vital self-care should be encouraged vastly more by society at large as it allows single parents to unwind, relax, and recharge to be the best parents that they can be, even if they happen to be away from their kids at the time.

5. It’s easy to catch up on TV when your kids are really young–they’ll watch anything.

This isn’t something really mentioned in most parenting books, but single parents know that this can be a great way to do two things at once. When children are very young, sometimes it’s tempting and easy to put whatever your favourite show is on in the background. At that age, they won’t retain the memories, so you deciding to catch up on Game of Thrones or Keeping Up With The Kardashians while they play with their toys isn’t too much of a bad thing. Is it a bit of a guilty pleasure? Absolutely. But when the children are young, there’s little shame in letting them happily play while their single parent indulge in their trashy TV pleasures.

6. Single parents hate it when people ask about being single.

Yes, you might be interested in the story (we all seem to love gossip), but aside from it being unbelievably inappropriate and nosy to ask, it hurts some single parents. Being constantly reminded of the lack of a partner in a world focused wholly on the notion of romantic love being the most fulfilling kind of love out there isn’t fantastic for anyone involved. If the parent wants to talk, he or she will. But it has to be their choice. Because, honestly, it’s not really your business until they make it your business.

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7. Being a single parent can be isolating and lonely.

There’s something inescapable about being a single parent–it can be incredibly lonely. Yes, they might have great, understanding friends and a wonderful family, but single parents spend a lot of time on their own, looking after a child incapable of expressing their feelings and appreciation succinctly (at least when the child is still young). Single parents feel alone in their experiences a lot of the time, largely because society prioritises the two-parent family, even in the modern day. Single parents don’t believe that their child has, unwittingly, made them less social–they just need that support. However, there are growing support groups for single parents who share their experiences and take comfort in the fact that they’re not alone.

8. Single parents want and need every bit of help that is given.

People sometimes have a problem admitting they need help, particularly in our culture where self-sufficiency is hailed as the end goal. However, there is never any shame in asking for help, especially as a single parent. It is more than understandable to be grateful for every kind of help you’re able to get your hands on. Someone knows of an after school club which makes the school run back home easier? Thanks for sharing. Networks and groups of single people are fantastic resources for single parents. After all, who else better to help you than another single parent going through the same thing?

9. Being a single parent can ruin your dating life.

Internet dating has been kind of a double-edged sword, particularly for single parents. Yes, it can be an easy way to meet new people and engage with them, but it can prove to be more trouble than it’s worth sometimes, particularly when it comes to being honest about your current lifestyle and living situation. That isn’t to say that you lie to potential suitors about having a child, but brutal honesty can drive away a lot of prospective mates. Hopefully every single parent can find someone they love–if they want someone at all–and who will love their child just as much. And this isn’t even mentioning how difficult it can be to meet new people when your life revolves around taking care of your little love!

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10. Sometimes single parents just do not have the energy to deal with stuff.

Yeah, sometimes single parents just cannot find the energy, willpower, or motivation to do some things. Raising a kid on your own–even with a great support network–is hard work. Single parents can’t always find it in their hearts to give enough of a damn. A single parent might beg for a night off, or for their child to spend some time with a family member–and it’s not because they don’t love their child. It’s because raising your child on your own can be incredibly draining and everyone needs to take time for themselves. Recharging yourself as a single parent is necessary; it doesn’t diminish their love for their child any less.

11. They worry about raising their child right all the time.

Single parents worry a lot about doing a good job–possibly more than a parent existing as part of a unit will do. Single parents have all of the pressure of raising a child, but without the physical and mental benefits of sharing that burden with another person equally invested in helping raise a child in the best possible way. They get looks in the schoolyard and have to answer awkward and intrusive questions from paperwork officials. That isn’t to say children need to be raised in two-parent households–far from it–but it means that single parents often worry about doing a right job when they’ve only got themselves to ask about it and think about it. So, give single parents everywhere a break, okay?

12. Single parents hate getting judged for being a single parent.

This is something that seems obvious and universal, but which is particularly relevant for single parents: your judgmental comments hurt. Single parents already feel like society at large is judging them, so when political and social pundits decide to weigh in and attack single parents for daring to raise a child on their own, it stings. Single parents find their decisions being questioned from all angles and they worry that it’s affecting their child’s lives. It can make single parents feel as though their choices are being invalidated, but single parents deal with it anyway because deep down, they can handle the judgment if it means they can look back on their decisions with pride.

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13. Single parents love getting praised for raising their child right.

Perhaps the greatest thing that someone can do for a single parent is help them out and praise them–and older children expressing their appreciation is even more potent and powerful. Single parents might not seem like they need any of that validation, but they do. Raising a child is hard, tough, and sometimes thankless work, born out of nothing more than selfless love. Is it perfect? No. Parents are flawed human beings like everyone else. They get tired and frustrated, but when their child thanks them or shows that they appreciate what they’ve done and sacrificed, it makes everything worth it.

More by this author

Chris Haigh

Writer, baker, co-host of "Good Evening Podcast" and "North By Nerdwest".

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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