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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.

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Chris Haigh

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

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

Reference

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