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13 Things Single Parents Won’t Tell You

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.

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 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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